(Published earlier at Worldmag.com)
OK, I admit it. I like country music. I also like rock, Motown, jazz, pop, folk, gospel, and classical music. But I once tried to distance myself from country in an ill-fated attempt to be sophisticated. To quote an old family idiom, that effort was like putting earrings on a hog. I am a small town boy and my roots are in the hills of Kentucky. So I no longer deny that I have a few banjos and some fine squirrel recipes in my genetic pool.
In addition to my chromosomal predisposition toward Nashville, I am developing a deep appreciation for the honesty of country music. It is one of the few safe places to discuss God and country and marriage and old-fashioned values without fear of politically correct busybodies getting their undergarments twisted. We all laugh at a few outrageously titled country tunes, but there are many songs that reflect exactly who I am: a proud father, a husband who married way up, a patriotic American, and an unabashed follower of Jesus. Not exactly attributes that would make me an A-lister at elite inside-the-Beltway parties.
On the walk yesterday a song from country duo Montgomery Gentry popped up on the iPod. I had used their song “Some People Change” in an earlier iPod devotional post on my blog. As dog friend Hannah and I walked, I was amazed at how many of their songs lead me to spiritual thoughts and meditation. So here is today’s Montgomery Gentry devotional.
The title track from their CD Back When I Knew It All resonates with me. The lyrics describe the passage for many of us:
Back when the world was flat and Mama and Daddy didn’t have a clue / That was back . . . back when a pitcher of beer and a couple shots made me bulletproof / Back when God was a name I used in vain to get a point across when I got ticked off / Lord I’m learning so much more . . . than back when I knew it all.
I realize now how little I really knew about being a man and about walking with Jesus when I started out. I had bad theology and bad motives, so it should come as no big surprise that I was a bad Christian in how I lived out my faith. I was judgmental because I knew exactly what those “sinners” should be doing. I didn’t know their circumstances or challenges but that did not matter. I didn’t care enough to pray for them or come alongside them to help. I just knew they were wrong and I was better than them. At least I felt that way back when I knew it all. Here is another part of the song:
I’ve learned that love is a woman that will settle you down / a Sunday sermon can turn life around / Man I can’t believe all the answers I’ve found / since . . . back when I knew it all.
Paul wrote these words to the church at Colossae:
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness (Colossians 2:6-7 NLT).
I am grateful for how much God has taught me even after I “knew it all.” The first step was realizing how untrue that feeling was. Now I am amazed at how much I don’t know. The second step was seeking the source of real truth. The journey I am on right now is to really trust that truth and not just know it. I am overflowing with thankfulness that God was patient during the time that I thought I knew it all.
I am learning slowly that trusting truth really does transform you. Especially after you “know” it all.