Flipping over the last page of an autobiography I just finished, "Sinner's Creed," by Scott Stapp, (with David Ritz) lead singer of the band Creed, the lyrics to Stapp's songs, or rather his poetry put to music, tell his story on their own. It seems I had some insight to that, or rather my son did, as he urged me to tune my ear to a new band called "Creed" who seemed to sing of God and "spiritual things." Tim and I always enjoyed music in the car, and most of what he liked, I liked, and visa-versa. We listened to bands like Matchbox Twenty, No Doubt, Goo Goo Dolls, Collecive Soul, and Third Eye Blind. He liked some of my old school bands too like, The Beatles, Zepplin, and Fleetwood Mac.
"Listen to these words mom, Tim said. He's a Christian, I can hear it in his lyrics."
I questioned his interpretation, until I gave a listen. Tim knew I paid attention to the lyrics. When he received a Green Day CD, I took it back to the store, after hearing some very disturbing lyrics. He never fought me on that decision, which made me happy. Anxious for me to listen to the words, the Creed song Higher began to play on the FM station. Driving Tim to his job at the golf course, I remember specifically, cruising through the low-hanging layer of fog, the cow pastures on either side of me, dawn just breaking, and Stapp's powerful voice asking the question, "can you take me higher?" The next few lines confirmed to me that this song was not about a "drug induced" euphoria because he sang about going to a place "where blind men see, where the streets are gold" a place he longed to be, where love replaced hate. It was subtle; Jesus' name didn't come up, but I could feel something, hear something...
Before the days of Air-1 (Christian alternative music, family friendly stations), I'm not sure I would have tuned in to "Christian music" on a daily basis at that time in my life. The car was not exactly the place those days where spiritual instruction took place. We were usually hurrying to get to soccer practice, pick up dinner, get to work, or some sort of medical emergency. Sunday, yes, we did make it to church, but my sons, not so much. Tim, despite his lack of "organized church" after his teens, never doubted in God's love and longed for answers to questions not so easily understood. Life was hard for him. He gravitated to the lyrics, "It's like he's born again, but he's mad or confused or something..." We'd continue to listen after purchasing the CD's and Tim would read the lyrics.
Forward 15 years. Yes, Tim, you understood more than you knew.
Seeing this book on the "recommended reading" table at the bookstore two weeks ago, I grabbed it and finished it up in just a few days. "Creed" was not a Christian band. Stapp had a hard time with that label put on him. (his band members as well). Scott Stapp, a gifted individual in many genres, grew up knowing Christ as his Savior, but missed the grace part. His life became a series of dissapointments in trying to please people and please God and hypocrisy and abuse tortured his soul. It is a story of survival and many, many "restarts" in his walk with God. I found myself rooting for him, only to be saddened by his failures. Very slowly, he entered into the rythym of grace. With the help, love of his wife and her family and never truly giving up, he began to let go of the things he could not control, live sober, taking back his soul, but giving it over to the cleansing grace of the Lord who never left him. Scott Stapp's story is a powerful testimony of a brilliant singer/song writer, where grace was held at bay by those closest to him, his grandfather only giving him a glimpse. When he finally allows it to pierce his heart, grace begins to absorb the hurt.
With all his giftedness, Stapp became very sucessful in the world, surrounded by all the desires that come with being a rock and roll star. His heart though, belonged to God and God persued him and in reading this book, I feel Stapp's songs were prayers persuing the loving God he knew he truly needed to embrace.
He writes, "These songs were hardly alter calls. Rather than promoting my religious past, I was questioning it. I wasn't selling my Christianity; I was struggling with it. By no stretch of the imagination were they anti-Christian, but at the same time they couldn't be considered Christian creeds. My firm conviction was that fans who responded to the lyrics also shared my struggles."
How different a tune, how different a second stanza, with his questions answered, if Scott wrote his lyrics knowing that Christ is all about grace. God's unconditional love and patience for this gifted human clay of a man allows him now to tell his story and be real, be authentic, and relate to individuals who have been hurt by hypocrisy and the cover of "religion," destroying trust issues as well as addiction and depression.
I am still a fan.
Tim liked his lyrics and loved the music, his powerful "made for rock" voice. He understood that like himself, Scott Stapp struggled to understand pain and purpose. They sang in harmony. Tim also found amazing grace, now walking the Golden Streets. Lives weren't lived perfect--full of "rock and roll" and then some, but grace always abounds and grace hold me still, with one foot tapping to the beat...
"Inside Us All"