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Now We Are Six(ty)

June 26, 2017

Tim in 1977

Deuteronomy 34:7
And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.

Today I begin my sixtieth year. Halfway to Moses. I have now spent two-thirds of my life as a Christian, in intent if not always in actual practice. Ol' Blue Eyes may have meant it when he sang, "Regrets, I've had a few, but then again, too few to mention," but that could not be less true for me. God has been far better to me than I have been in return.

I came to Christ in the year 1977, shortly before my twentieth birthday. It was during that season that I wrote my first Christian song. This photo is me at age 19 performing it at a Pentecost retreat in Washington State. You can click here to hear a recording I made of this song a few months later. Here are the lyrics:

Hey God (Kay's Song)

I've done my days in confusion's haze,
trying to touch the sky.
When the clouds blocked my vision, I came to the decision
that the heavens were all a lie.
Dreams were shattered, and nothing really mattered,
so I lived from day to day.
When Jesus died and left us, he surely only blessed us
with a winter holiday.

Hey, God! Please shed a little light down on me.
I've got a world of troubles, and I need some loving and some sweet harmony.
Hey, God! They tell me you're the one who can chase all my blues away.
I'm just a cliche-rhyming, rambling boy, trying to find the faith.

I was one of those kind who spent all my time
looking at the things gone wrong.
Though my parents tried to teach me, I knew they couldn't reach me.
In this world, I didn't belong.
Till one day I met some people who didn't need no steeple
to point them in a better way.
In the words of the Bible, they told me I was liable
to see a brighter day.

(Hey, God...)

What're you gonna do tomorrow?
What're you gonna do yesterday? **

You can spend your days in confusion's haze,
crying about all your pain.
But when you get free of life's miseries,
you'll hear the laughter in the falling rain.
Turn to your Creator and sooner or later,
ain't nothing gonna get you down.
It's a simple choice, to cry or rejoice,
and there's a lot of love going around.

Hey, God. You shed a little light down on me.
I lost a world of troubles, and I found some loving and some sweet harmony.
Hey, God. I tell you you're the one who can chase all my blues away.
I'm just a cliche-rhyming, rambling boy, who finally found the faith.

Hey, God. You shed a little light down on me.
I sure thank you, God.

 

(** This line was my "clever" way of saying that life doesn't always make sense. But it isn't so clever if you have to explain it, right?)

I called it "Kay's Song" for the girl who led me to Christ. But there was more to it than that. Christian sentiment was brand new to me and the truth is, I was a little bit embarrassed by it. I could hardly believe I'd written a song like this, and so I told myself that I was singing about someone else's experience. But of course, the person I was singing about was me. I was born and raised an atheist, and I can easily remember the loneliness and despair I felt in my soul. I'd done the experimenting with drugs that was a mandatory part of hippiedom in the 1970's, but the doors of perception had remained bolted shut. Now they were opening at the turn of a most-unexpected key, Jesus the Christ.

(I'd only written one song before, an eleven-stanzaed ode to the student protesters of the 1960's. I can still remember the chorus: "We are the children of America, and we don't like what we see. We reject your authority. This ain't how it has to be." Yeah, I know... Bernie would be proud. My father certainly wasn't!)

The words and melody to "Hey God" came to me one afternoon while I was at my job. Amazingly, they stuck around long enough for me to go home and figure out the guitar chords. I can't remember why I decided to add the harmonica since I'd never played one before (can you tell? Ha ha).

Forty years later, I am still kind of amazed by it. Not that the song is so wonderful. It's not, and my singing and guitar playing won't win any prizes either. But I know that God used this song to show me that he was real, and that he wanted to help me. I won't claim that God "gave me" this song. I've read some of his lyrics in the book of Psalms, and this is not that. This is me doing what I'm singing about – rhyming some cliches. (And yes, eventually I realized I'd stolen a line from Neil Sedaka of all people. Deduct 25 cool points for that. That is probably why I've kept this song hidden away for almost forty years.)

I don't think I had ever stood in front of a group and played guitar and sang publicly before that Pentecost weekend. I can't believe I found the nerve, but I was riding on the crest of newfound freedom. Over the next few years, I wrote more songs and for a while I enjoyed performing them, sometimes with a small band. These days I'd rather go to the dentist than sing for people (and go ahead and say it, most of them would rather go to the dentist than hear me sing). My style never evolved past the whiney singer-songwriters of the early 1970s. No one will ever accuse me of writing a song that made people want to get up and dance.

 


When I was a kid, I loved this poem by a.a. milne from the Winnie the Pooh book, "Now We Are Six."

tims blog

When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be six
now and forever.

Well, now I am sixty. Six times ten. In many ways, I am still that kid who thinks he is as clever as clever. But more than that, I am someone who is thankful in the depths of his being for the life he's been blessed to live. God really did shed a little light down on me, and he washed away the anguish that resided in my soul. He filled that void with his words of truth and with family and friends like you, people who are very precious to me. "I lost a world of troubles and I found some loving and some sweet harmony." I know it sounds corny, but it is true.

Happy birthday to me. Life isn't always a piece of cake, but today I'll have mine with ice cream and candles.

 


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