imageOver the years music has become a gateway for me to truly live this invitational life out. As a kid, certain songs signified special moments. Like when my dad would take me to a basketball game, he’d always put in a tape of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” or Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” or Tears for Fears “Shout” and we’d sing along loud and totally off-key. It didn’t matter because they did the trick. My heart was soaring as we shared those memories together. Those songs became anthems for me.

In college I heard this song called “Obsession” by Delirious and somehow it put to words the honesty, desire, and vulnerability that I wanted to have for God.  For two years straight I actually played that song when I’d wake up. Throughout the day, a line would come to mind and manage to refocus me on what truly mattered. 

John Lennon sang my wife down the aisle the day of our wedding. Sigur Ros played as we prayed and said I do. When my son was born, my wife and I had a playlist accompanying us as we welcomed him into the world. Sleeping At Last’s Umbrellas will forever bring me back to that holy moment I held him for the first time. 

Music has a way of moving our hearts, minds, and souls doesn’t it?

Over the next few weeks, I’d love to introduce you to some artists and friends of mine who embody these values and whose songs have encouraged me along the way. 

Exclusively for those who preorder “This Invitational Life” from now until August 1st, we’ve put together a beautiful mp3 playlist of songs written by incredible musician friends near and far. Just take a screen shot or picture of your purchase receipt from Amazon, Barnes&Noble or anywhere else and email it to thisinvitationallife@gmail.com. You’ll also be included in our weekly drawings for some pretty great invitational opportunities such as Cubs tickets and dining gift certificates.

The first song is called, “With All My Heart” by my good friend Marty Mikles. I met him seven years ago at a Salvation Army event and from the first time I saw him lead, I knew there was something different about him. He is an absolute gift to me.  This song has been on repeat since the day he sent it to me.  When I asked him why he wrote it he said, 

“I wish that it weren’t true, that to best know the strength of the hand of God you must first know your own weaknesses very well. But it is true.  I have come to know my weaknesses in deep, painful ways.  In the past, they had left me hollow, bruised and broken.  In light of my shortcomings, however, I will, like Paul, boast in my weaknesses, because God’s strength is made PERFECT in them.  I am not sure that I would know what I know about God’s goodness if it weren’t for the distance that He had to reach to draw me back.  Even more puzzling is the recurring and consistent pursuit and invitation with which God beckons,  “Do you love me with everything you’ve got?”  A dear friend shed some light on this recently: “It’s a question that, if we are honest, many times we must answer, ‘Not yet.’”  Dare I say, even though I have to answer with a “not yet,” God STILL repeatedly invites me to keep trying.  He is relentless, and in His pursuit of me I find the enormity of His goodness.  I may often get it wrong.  But I WILL keep trying so long as he extends the invitation.  “I will love You, Lord…”

In writing this song, I imagined a setting where broken people could sing these words together, maybe even wrestle with these words together.  Even more than that, I often think about how daring it would be to invite others into this examination, this place where we’re asking each other if it’s true of us: Do we love God with all that we are?  And how beautiful is it that in the middle of this conversation, no matter how we answer, we can still recognize God’s goodness to us!  His invitation to us is always open.  He never rescinds his offer.  How could we possibly keep this to ourselves…?”

I hope you enjoy.