Lately I've been grabbing some old CD's and keeping them in the car to listen to when there isn't anything good on the radio. You know how all the stations you like seem to have commercials going at the same time?
I know I could use my ipod, but I still feel like something so small that carries over 1200 of my best loved songs on it shouldn't leave the house unless I know it's going to be on my person the entire time. Anyway, I realized I miss listening to an entire CD, 12 tracks in a row, compiled by one artist with an actual theme in mind.
Don't get me wrong, I love being able to download one song I like without having to buy 10 other songs I don't like that happen to be on the same album. But when you take only one piece of a greater whole you miss out on some stuff.
This month I've listened several times to U2's first album Boy. It was a great debut released in 1980 and it captured all the promise of this young band out of Ireland. Some of the songs on that album are still among their most popular, including the first track "I Will Follow." There was a coming of age theme on the album that is lost on anyone who grabs a single track, throws it on a playlist of various other songs and moves on to the next selection in the itunes store.
I love that some of the songs are richer for having followed or preceded another song that touches me and how hearing them all in sequential order brings back memories from when I first listened to the album. When I hear one of those songs randomly, it's still a great song and it might even play really well on it's own. But there's a context in which the song lives and from that place it truly sings.
I was thinking about all this during my devotional time the other day. It's good to grab a single verse out of the Bible sometimes and focus on just that verse. It's good to read one verse mixed in with other verses on the same topic from time to time too. But there's something special about reading the verse in context of the whole chapter and even the whole book. It's more meaningful knowing the verses it precedes and follows.
I discovered that while there's nothing necessarily wrong with approaching the Bible like the itunes store, randomly looking for 30 second snippets of things I'd like to hear at the moment, that I often find it more beneficial to get the whole message.
Because then it truly sings.