Music and its influence (a path to personal worship)

In an article posted in February 2019, Nina Avramova wrote, “Music is present in every part of our lives. Our spiritual rituals are framed with songs, children learn the alphabet through song and the malls and cafes we visit during our leisure time are rarely silent…But just how much can this ever-present thing impact us — and the way we act and feel? Research suggests music can influence us a lot. It can impact illnessdepressionspendingproductivity and our perception of the world.” (a link to the full story is at the end of this blog).

For me, music has always been a very important part of my daily life. I frequently enjoy having music playing in the background. I would like to be an audiophile, but I already have too many expensive hobbies…

Some of the most aggravating disagreements that I remember having with my parents centered around music. While the volume of the music was often the subject of our conversations, most of the time we disagreed about style and genre. Early in my teen years I was exposed to Petra and WhiteHeart and fell in love with the lyrics about Jesus that were wrapped up in rock and roll. I am not sure that my parents and I ever fully came to terms with the kind of music that I wanted to listen to, but I cannot deny that Bryan Duncan, Steve Taylor, Bride, Deliverance, Steven Curtis Chapman, Stryper and Michael W. Smith all played a part in my theology and worldview.

Several years ago, I entered my name in a drawing for some random CD’s and was introduced to Flatfoot 56, Nailpoint, Golden Resurrection, and Theocracy. In particular, I fell in love with the music of Theocracy. The driving rock rhythms and powerful lyrics (not to mention Matt’s vocals) combined to make this one of my new favorites bands (it doesn’t hurt that they have a bit of an 80’s hair band flavor).

I have mentioned one of Theocracy’s songs in several sermons and I’ve posted a link to a YouTube version of one of their songs on Facebook. I’m including that link at the end of this blog again today. I will tell you (warn you) that some of you might not like the style of music, but here are the lyrics to “Mirror of Souls” that is from their 2008 album of the same name. I wish that someone would put together a mini-movie/music video for this song…it would be powerful!

Here is a link to the YouTube video,, and below are the lyrics to a 22 minute long rock opera that is a depiction of a spiritual journey…a journey that most of us might be able to identify with. Click the link, then read along as the journey unfolds.

Listen to the tale I tell
A haunting dream I know so well
When walking home alone one night
My path revealed by candlelight
Ahead I see an open door
With no idea what’s in store
I glance inside the door to see
A hall of mirrors beckons me
I take a breath and step inside
A tale of love and shattered pride
The door slams shut, I start to run
And it seems my journey has begun…

I run and turn from side to side
With fear and panic in my eyes
The vastness overwhelming me
Mirrors far as the eye can see
I see myself in every one
I see the things that I have done
A thousand forms of flattery
The fear soon turns to haughtiness in me

Different mirrors, different shapes
My different strengths accentuate
Each mirror has a name and face
And all reflect me in some way
I look at them to see myself
To judge my life by someone else
The metaphors within replete:
The mirrors are the people that I meet

Look at the man you see – in the mirrors
The things you can be – in the mirrors
The glory of me revealed in the mirror’s eye
The mirror never lies
The fire in my eyes – in the mirrors
The vanity rise – in the mirrors
The power of pride comes alive in the mirrors

Gazing in the mirrors I behold
All the greatest chapters of my story ever told
In the mirrors
The world is turned to gold

At the end of the Hall of Mirrors
I behold a golden door
I imagine all the beauty
The other side must hold in store
So I quickly reach out my hand
To enter the next room in this promised land
I pull the giant door open wide
To continue my journey, I step inside
But it slams shut behind me, and I’m back outside
The pouring rain welcomes me
Into the arms of the coldest, blackest night

The light of the mirrors has faded away
Into distant memory
As the rain keeps coming down
My candle extinguished
I struggle to walk a path I cannot see
And the rain keeps coming down

The darkness grows with every step
I could cut it with a knife
As the rain keeps coming down
I can’t see a thing and I’ve never felt
So alone in all my life
But the rain keeps coming down…

Caught in the fury of the storm
(The darkness suffocates)
Body and soul weary and worn
(Another twist of fate)
Never been so afraid before
(The ending of this tale?)
Never should have opened the door
(From euphoria to hell)

I question my fate, my end
To die in this storm
Maybe this was the plan
Back from the day I was born
But in the hall of mirrors I had felt so high
I cannot walk another mile in this flood
So resigned to my fate, I just collapse in the mud
If I cannot go on, I’ll just lay down and die

Suddenly a light I see, shining in the distance
I make my way toward it with my fading hope reborn
As I draw near, the light is clear
Though the rain beats its resistance
But I press on and pray this is a shelter from the storm
Advancing now toward the light
I’m quickly moving forward
This hope has given me new strength
I thought I’d never know
But I take a step, and fall right back
For the ground is gone beneath me
And I behold, illuminated in the light’s warm glow
A dark chasm, a great abyss
A vast expanse of nothingness
A pit that has no bottom as far as the eye can see
It spans the whole horizon, and there is no way across
My lonely heart is shattered and all hope I had is lost

I’m startled to feel a hand on my shoulder
I turn to see a shadowed figure standing in the rain
But somehow I’m not afraid of him
Even when he speaks my name
And somehow I can tell that he means me no harm
Just by the peace that I see in his eyes
And even though I’ve never even seen him before
It’s like he’s known me all my life
“Why are you crying?” the stranger asks
As I wipe away the tears
I point toward the great abyss
The source of all my fears

“I must get across and get to that light
For it represents my only hope tonight
But when I saw the chasm, all that hope was lost
I’ve spent so long in the dark and the rain
That the sight of the light made my heart sing again
But the gulf’s so wide, and there’s no way across”

The stranger smiled, and took my hand
He said, “But you are wrong, my friend
You cannot cross the gulf yourself, that’s true”
He led me down toward the edge
And pointed just over the ledge
And said, “Behold, I built a bridge for you”

I cross the bridge toward the light
The stranger saved my life tonight
I turn to try to thank him, but he’s gone
A long way to the other side
I’ll make my way without my guide
No time to waste, for I must carry on

The bright light shines forth from behind
A door beyond description
Blood and scratches mark the door from ages of abuse
I’m confused no more, for above the door
Is a weathered, old inscription
“All who would see reality, enter the Hall of Truth”
And so I do

As I step inside
I can see another mirror
A mirror so bright
That my eyes must turn away
A mirror so high
I start to question all the others
And as I stand there in the Hall of Truth
My heart can only say:
“Show me the truth, I don’t know what to believe
For the mirrors all showed something different to me
And my pride has given way to misery
I’ve spent so long in the dark and the rain
That the sight of the light made my heart sing again
And the stranger built a bridge across for me”

“BEHOLD THYSELF” a voice rings out
In paralyzing thunder
It echoes all throughout the hall
And sends me to my knees
When the voice calls my name
I’m overcome with fear and wonder

As I slowly start to rise
And face the great mirror in front of me
When I open my eyes, I have to close them again
But still the image is burned into my mind…
A face with eyes as black as night
A terrifying sight
The flesh rotting away in sickness and decay
It’s mangled by disease
I’m unable to breathe
Tell me what manner of creature this could be
‘Cause it’s not me

I run away as fast as my feet will carry me
Back to the door leading out into the night
Even the storm that almost claimed my life
Was better than this
And so I throw open the door and see a man
(The figure of a man)
The stranger from the storm returns again
(To save me once again?)
I see understanding in his eyes
(He’s seen this all before)
Maybe he can tell me what I saw behind that door

“Tell me what I saw in the mirror
Before I ran away
Tell me what I saw in the mirror
That face of sickness and decay
Tell me what I saw in the mirror
That left me terrorized
Who was that I saw in the mirror
With the lifeless, blackened eyes?
Was it a demon
From the fiery waves?
Was it the undead
From beyond the grave?
Oh the face that I beheld in the mirror
Left me paralyzed
Won’t you tell me what I saw
In the mirror on this night?”

“The light from the mirror you saw from afar
The Mirror of Souls shows all men as they are
You entered the hall and you asked for the truth
The man that you saw in the mirror was you””No! Don’t show me the truth
‘Cause I don’t want to believe
What the Mirror of Souls
Has revealed unto me
And the face I saw reflected cannot be me
Dying and lost in the arms of decay
I do not recognize the face I’ve seen today
And if you say that’s my face I must disagree”

The meaning of these things I saw:
The mirror is the holy eyes of God
The truth unveiled before me
With these words of the stranger:
“The mirrors you saw in the hall long ago
Were mirrors of lies, not reflecting the soul
When you look unto others to see what they see
You see an illusion, deception, false reality”

I have seen my soul in the mirror
And it has broken me
I have seen myself so much clearer
Than I had ever seen
“Can’t you take away all this sickness
From my soul and set me free?
You can save me… I believe”
And then he said, “Arise, my child
Your faith has made you reconciled
Now gaze into the Mirror once again”
We walked together through the door
And I looked in the glass once more
But the only one reflected back was him
Somehow the only one in the mirror saw was him

Gazing in the Mirror of my Soul
Staring at the man who took my place
And made me whole
In the Mirror
The Mirror of my Soul

If you like this song, you might check out some of their other songs. Some of my favorites: The Master Storyteller, Absolution Day, I Am.

Music is a great way to worship! While we might not be able to gather together and worship as a united body, we can find songs that will enable and equip us to worship each and every day! You might not be able to worship listening to songs like “Mirror Of Souls,” but there is music that you can find that will carry you into worship no matter your physical location.

Within my Spotify playlists I have everything from Southern Gospel and traditional hymns to the parodies of Weird Al Yancovic and Ray Stevens the screaming guitars and driving drums of progressive metal.

What style of music you prefer doesn’t really matter. What does matter is whether or not the music we listen to points us toward God and draws us to him or draws us away from him. I would encourage you to find music daily that opens the doors to worship!

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