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Doubting Thomas

Thursday, November 29th, 2007 at 23:48 ET

I have this tiny little playlist in iTunes and on my iPod. I listen to it more than even I realize. This is the newest song, although I purchased it over a year ago.

One of the most interesting things to me, both as a musician and as a listener, is how the meaning of a song necessarily changes over time. For my first post about song lyrics though, that’s not the beginning of the story, is it? * * * I actually remember the exact day and time (relatively) that I began really hearing music. Maybe I should say “pop music” but I think it was probably the more broad sense of the word — even as a singer I think I hadn’t previously delved much past the surface. I was sixteen. The album was Rites of Passage and my life literally hasn’t been the same since, but that’s another story. Since then I just can’t seem to get enough of sweet or sad songs that have lyrics I can understand (and usually sing along to.) My friends may poke fun, but this music is food for my soul.

So the other day I was in my car listening to my “Great Songs” playlist and this particular song come on. I immediately recognized and remembered it — it was on that playlist, so obviously at one point I had decided it was better than average. I even remembered trying, some day months ago, to decipher the message but not succeeding. I’ve owned the song for over a year and I’d never heard it until this week. And then it came rushing into my ears and my mind and my soul and I heard this wonderful prayer…. One of the most interesting things to me is how the meaning of a song necessarily changes over time. Songs, like all poetry, only have meaning in the context of your thoughts and your own life story. My place in the world seems to be changing, at least in my own head, and now I have one more song in my library that can help me to explore on the outside what I’m feeling on the inside.

I’ll admit I had to look-up St. Thomas (and I’d done it before.) I didn’t even know, without some help from Wikipedia, that “doubting Thomas” was a colloquialism or that it referred to a Disciple. Yet I know I’d heard the story of the Apostle who had to see and touch the resurrection before he believed in it. Perhaps the most compelling part of the story in John 20:24-29 is when, after giving Thomas the chance to see him and believe, Jesus says to Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Thomas was an Apostle and a Saint. He had chances to see proof of the living Messiah that arguably only eleven other Men will ever have, and yet he still needed proof. It’s proof that you and I will never have. I think the important part is not that one way of coming to believe is more authentic, but that we all must somehow realize our own belief. Jesus’ promise to us, and our promise to Him, is not blind devotion or indiscriminate conviction, but one of just a little faith. This will be one of my prayers:

What will be left when I’ve drawn my last breath
Besides the folks I’ve met and the folks who know me?
Will I discover a soul saving love
Or just the dirt above and below me?

I’m a doubting Thomas.
I took a promise
But I do not feel safe,
Oh me of little faith.

Sometimes I pray for a slap in the face
Then I beg to be spared ’cause I’m a coward.
If there’s a master of death I’ll bet he’s holding his breath
As I show the blind and tell the deaf about his power.

I’m a doubting Thomas.
I can’t keep my promises
‘Cause i don’t know what’s safe,
Oh me of little faith.

Can I be used to help others find truth
When I’m scared I’ll find proof that it’s a lie?
Can I be lead down a trail dropping bread crumbs
That prove I’m not ready to die?

Please give me time to decipher the signs,
Please forgive me for time that I’ve wasted.

I’m a doubting Thomas.
I’ll take your promise
Though I know nothin’s safe,
Oh me of little faith.

“Doubting Thomas”
Nickel Creek
Why Should the Fire Die?
(c) 2005 Sugar Hill Records

Filed under: Spirituality and Faith

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