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November 10, 2010
Music serves a very personal function in my life. While some scoff at the fact that I rarely venture beyond my ten-twenty artists, it is typically because I share such an intimate relationship with them and do not take that lightly.
Though I occasionally set my library on shuffle, the most frequently played songs are almost exclusively from Iron & Wine, Sufjan Stevens, The Kooks, Snow Patrol—and a few others of that vein.
I like my music folksy, mellow—and frequently British.
I’m also typically skeptical when musical groups suddenly become very popular, so when my roommate and I first heard Mumford & Sons on TV one morning, I wasn’t sure what to think.
But I liked their sound, so we got the album.
However, I didn’t listen to it very closely until their lyrics lit up my news feed as several of my friends started using them for status updates on Facebook.
At the risk of sounding like a music review, I did a little research on the band. Mumford & Sons consists of four men (including one named Country Winston; that may be one of the most delightful names I have ever heard) from London.
“Sigh No More” is their official debut album, although they’ve been together for a few years. They love performing live and are working their way through the US right now.
Though I was initially drawn to their music, I was subsequently captivated by the stories that they tell through their songs. In particular, “Roll Away the Stone” quickly became one of my favorites because of a few simple lines: “It seems that all my bridges have been burned / But you say ‘That’s exactly how this grace thing works’ / It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart / But the welcome I receive with every start”
Something about that verse struck something deep within me. And I have deleted at leave five attempts at the next sentence; trying with everything I am not to say what I’ve heard in every sermon about grace all my life.
But the most eloquent conclusion I’ve found thus far is that grace cannot exist without a burned bridge or two.
If my Savior came to find that which was lost, I imagine that He started by looking for all the fires. And yet, that seems so hard to wrap our minds around.
In a church that emphasizes the righteousness of the Christian individual (perhaps rightly so)—often by works (perhaps wrongly so)—is there any room for the sin we do not fully escape?
Where do we fit all the mistakes and human failings that shape much of who we are into our conception of the believer striving for perfection?
Because despite my many faults and not so pleasant past experiences, it has often been through those struggles that God showed me His face, perhaps the most powerfully. In the midst of my darkness, He becomes all the more radiant.
And it is that Presence at every ‘start’ of my ever lengthening journey that sustains every step—because each burned bridge gives me one more reason to keep moving forward.
We know that this is where Romans 6 comes in, before someone accuses me of giving the campus free reign to sin; I’ll spare you the theology and simply leave you with these thoughts.
Christ called us to a life of righteousness, but He did not waste His time on the spotless.
He makes it abundantly clear that we are truly made righteous by the nature of our faith—and this faith is often characterized by the ones who feel they have nowhere left to go but up.
“But where sin increased, grace increased all the more...” I praise God that we can serve the One who makes even our failings into something beautiful.
And that is what makes the journey worth taking every day, so that we can become better—through His grace—ever growing into the image of the Creator together.
In short, Mumford & Sons captures this story quite beautifully through their music. That is one humble opinion of this music-illiterate bookworm.