Mumford and Son’s latest album, Babel found peculiar success in today’s music industry. It’s not overproduced or synthesized, acoustic instruments carry the songs, it’s folksy, and full of religious lyrics. Rolling Stone Magazine reports, “Babel is full of all manner of religious shoptalk, with Biblical metaphors swirling like detritus in a Christopher Nolan film.” There are many great tracks on the album, but the song guiding my thoughts at present is “Whispers in the Dark.” Verse one sings:
You hold your truth so purely
Swerve not through the minds of men
The lie is dead
This cup of yours tastes so holy
but a brush with the devil can clear your mind
and strengthen your spine
Fingers tap into what you were once
and I’m worried that I blew my only chance . . .
Spare my sins for the ark
I was too slow to depart
I’m a cad, but I’m not a fraud
I set out to serve the Lord
It’s an honest lyric about forgiveness and the struggle with living a new life. Have you ever felt like you lost your only opportunity to do good? Did you ever think the Ark left you behind? When Jesus appeared to Thomas after the Resurrection (John 20:24-29), Jesus revealed that he still had crucifixion wounds. The wounds had been healed, but they were still there. Brokenness is not a destination; rather it is a path. As the favorite Psalm says, “Yea, tho I walk through the valley of death.” Did you catch that? We walk through the valley. We may tarry or dawdle longer than we would like, but we are always on the move with Christ who walks with us. As Mumford says, “I’m a cad, but I’m not a fraud. I set out to serve the Lord.” We walk through the valley because we are sent out for a purpose, to love God and love one another. Without this transformative mission, this valley of death feels like driving with a GPS without satellite coverage. It’s exhausting, unproductive, and in the worst of cases—deadly.
The Good News is that salvation is offered through brokenness–the brokenness and resurrection of Christ. The reason there is a valley of death rather than a wall is that Jesus has tread this way before. Let us leave our brokenness at the altar and leave as whole (holy?) people, put back together by living out the Resurrection and sharing radical love and hospitality. Yes, the cracks in the pottery will be still be there, but it will, by the grace of God, be able to once again hold living water.