I can’t tell you how long its been since an album has really reached me. I love music. I love profound words even more. But when great music and profound lyrics mingle at a certain time and place, the heart cannot help but beat in time with both the rythm and the words.
You know what I’m talking about. Think of album or a song that has really reached you. It more than likely was a combination of these three things: music, lyrics, and occasion.
For me Petra’s “Beyond Belief” probably would have been just another album if it hadn’t been for Anggi Finley (now Wakefield) giving me that tape in the early days of my salvation. The music was good, the message was real. But it was the time more than anything that made the album come alive.
Now a new Album has reached me in the same way as Beyond Belief. Switchfoot’s Beautiful Letdown is both great music and a great message. But more than anything it has come at the right time and in the right place.
You may not know this but I work as a Custody Officer in Clark County’s Jail. It’s not your normal place to work. In any given day I see drunks, drug addicts, prostitutes, child molesters, murderers and thieves. It’s easy to classify these people as something other then oneself, beyond hope. The people I work with do it all the time.
I’ve recently changed shifts. Now I work in the pods. And I’m sitting here listening to this album surrounded by 185 inmates. I’m engulfed like an island, feeling the crashing waves of there broken lives beating against my isolation. They can’t hear the music pulsing inside my tower. They can barley see me through the glass. But I can see them.
Just in front of me, not more than 50 feet, is a man whose failed attempt at suicide killed a Clark County Sheriff’s Officer last year. I see a dentist who after two years of separation from his wife, returned to brutally stab her to death in her home. Behind me there is a woman who is locked up and pregnant with her third child. Hooked on heroine, she’s taking methadone in effort to save her babies life. To me these people have become more than just names in the newspaper. I see them as more than the crimes they commit. And as I listen to Beautiful Letdown, I feel their cries for redemption.
In the words of Jon Foreman, the voice of Switchfoot,
THE BEAUTIFUL LETDOWN is about real life: the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s an honest attempt to reflect on the great and terrible aspects of being human, the tension of existence. A lot of people run away from this tension because the problems in our world are too hard to face. But the tension of being human is where we live and think and breathe. In fact, the very lowest moments in our lives are when we stand toe to toe with the truth about ourselves and our world. The way I see it, hope means nothing at all if hope doesn’t reach to the core of our need. THE BEAUTIFUL LETDOWN is where meaning and hope invade our greatest and worst moments. THE BEAUTIFUL LETDOWN is where we live, who we are, and where the future begins.
As I sit in my tower I see the tension expressed in stark detail. The beauty of God’s redemption is that it was meant for them. The beauty is that it is meant for me.
Originally posted February 16, 2006