Hey, Jude

(Photo: Unsplash)

Before she was even two years old, our granddaughter would entertain us with the words to this song:

“Hey Jude, don’t make it bad.
Take a sad song and make it better.”

You’re welcome! 😉

While it is absolutely adorable coming from a two-year-old’s mouth, it is truly a sad song because the writer was a father who was sending a message to his son after leaving him and his mother for another woman.

The words seem to be intended to encourage the pursuit of a love worth fighting for, but they must have fallen flat in a young boy’s heart that was devastated by the demise of his family. [wikipedia]

I have another sad story to tell. Though it is much more personal. It is a story that may or may not speak to you, but I need to tell it. This is not a heartwarming tale of my past but it is a part of me that I am sharing with the hope that it will benefit someone else. I have three siblings, and because of the age differences and timing, I’m sure that their perspective will differ from my own. As a result these events affected each of us differently and the consequences that resulted may not be the same for them.

“My people, hear my instruction;
listen to what I say.
I will declare wise sayings;
I will speak mysteries from the past—
things we have heard and known
and that our fathers have passed down to us.
We must not hide them from their children,
but must tell a future generation
the praises of the Lord,
His might, and the wonderful works
He has performed.” Psalm 78:1-4

Music was always an important part of my family. My father was very gifted and played any instrument he could get his hands on. My mother sang in the choir and with others in trios and quartets. We had a giant stereo that practically filled one wall of the dining room. Albums were collected and treasured, and Dad even had a reel-to-reel tape recorder to preserve our musical memories.

Though I listened to pop on the radio (including the Beatles #1 song Hey Jude), and my parents often listened to country, it was gospel music that was the most prevalent in the background of our home. I still remember many of those songs, We would have sing-a-longs with friends and family, and our family songbook is among my most treasured possessions from the past because most of the pages were handwritten by my parents.

Then the music stopped.

Not completely, but our home was never the same. So much of our life was wrapped around the community of our church. Friends and family attended with us, and social activities and fellowship with those who shared a common faith were an integral part of our life. After the death of his brother, my father walked away from all that he had believed in. The instruments were put away and he rarely played the albums. We no longer attended church and the family that I knew changed.

Our family was altered… not because we didn’t attend church, but because of the silence. God’s name was no longer praised. We didn’t talk about Him and we certainly didn’t discuss what was happening. What felt like “normal” was changed forever. Surrendering to fear and doubt, there was a literal “walking away” from God’s truth.

The child-like faith that I had (I was a pre-teen) was confused by the contradiction I had witnessed. Trusting God was not supposed to be based on circumstances. The very definition of faith implies that we trust God even when we don’t see or understand what He is doing. Thankfully, I had already trusted Christ as my Savior, but I no longer had the opportunity to grow and learn and be a part of worshiping with other believers.

Church mattered.

It mattered to a little girl who needed to hear God’s truth. It mattered because disobedience always matters. (It was God’s idea to gather His children together to form a body of believers.) It mattered because the prerequisite to joy is gratitude, and praising God through music is a powerful weapon against the enemy. Learning those songs of the faith was more powerful than I even realized at the time. While I hardly remember a sermon preached, I know I learned valuable truths. I do, however, remember many of those songs from my childhood… and God often uses them to remind me of His truth.

How do you make a Christian weak? You take away their joy. I dare to say there were very few moments of joy for my father after that.

Jude lost a brother too.

This was the brother that he had doubted. (John 7)

Until He died. And then came back to life. After Jude saw Jesus crucified, placed in a tomb and then resurrected, Jude was absolutely convinced that his brother truly was the Son of God. He wrote this one small letter, eager to let other believers know how important it was for them to fight for truth. I challenge you to read this short book. It’s only one chapter, but it’s powerful.

I am about to finish my journey through the Bible, and Jude has been one that brought me to a standstill. It reads as if it is a letter to our generation. So many in our culture have devalued the church and have given their faith over to the god of this world. His message was one of urgency–“This is a battle worth fighting for!”

I don’t know where you are today, but I felt compelled to tell my story because I believe that we are standing on a precipice. If you have walked away from your faith in God, please consider the consequences. They may seem minor to you right now, but consider how your choices affect more than you–they will carry a huge impact on the next generation. While the enemy is spouting lies, [“Did God really say…?”], and the world is shouting for you to look them for answers to life’s most important questions, God is calling you back. Back to the Bible. Back to a battle for The Truth.

A true and faithful Christian does not make holy living an accidental thing. It is his greatest concern! As the business of the soldier is to fight, so the business of the Christian is to be like Christ.

~Jonathan Edwards

I know. It’s hard to return when you’ve walked away. I’ve been there. Please understand me. Church isn’t the answer, Jesus is. God loves us so much that He came into this world to show us who He is and how we are to live. His church is made up of imperfect people, so you will never find a perfect church. He didn’t call us to gather together because we were perfect, but because when imperfect people come together to worship a perfect Savior, it changes and challenges us. It strengthens us and it breeds joy.

This is a battle worth fighting for–won’t you be counted as a soldier ready to fight for God’s truth? Soldiers don’t have to fight alone because we have each other and we have the God of angel armies standing ready to lead the way.

Nearing the end of my Blogging Through The Bible series, I’ve chosen to memorize Jude 1:24-25 and would love to hear if you are challenged to memorize it as well! Be encouraged, friend. This is a sad story, but God’s story is very different. He offers you love and joy and peace. He takes a sad song and makes it better! (You might wanna go back and play that video again!)

If you’d like to follow the Scripture Memory Challenge, you can start here: Genesis

If you’d like to know more about having a personal relationship with God, you can find the steps here: FAITH