Just can’t get enough: Why music moves you

I couldn’t tame it.

It began with a light touch, pulsing slowly until it was throbbing, running red and blue and yellow, like stars falling in a meteor shower in the darkness, and then it quieted, only to burst forth in bloom once more and overtake me like the rushing waters of a river. It swirled about me in eddies, glowing and ever-changing, warming me and cooling me from the inside, all at once, and then stilling me where I had not been still before.

Whatever I had just been doing, wherever I was, I wasn’t there anymore. I couldn’t tell you where I was, either. Just, beyond.

It was transcendent.

This was listening to music.

Maybe you’ve experienced music like this, too; the kind of experience where the music completely overtakes you from the inside out and pulls you so far outside yourself that you’re left with nothing but wonder of what just happened. Or maybe you hear lyrics that speak to exactly what you’re feeling or going through, as if they were written just for you. Or you didn’t know you were feeling something until you heard a song that told you about it.

Whatever your experience has been, we all know music is one of the most powerful forms of beauty. Beauty is one of the most moving ways God speaks to us—because it’s transcendent, pulling us out of ourselves and into an encounter with Him. What else can we do when we see something so inarguably beautiful like a sunset? We can’t argue with Him there. All we can do is let ourselves be caught in its wave and eventually find ourselves overcome by sheer gratitude at its immense power. Beauty is powerfully overwhelming, and it is new every day, and it can be found just about anywhere, if you really look.

Beauty touches the heart and moves it. And music is one of the most powerful ways we experience this. Victor Hugo once said,

“Music expresses that which cannot be said, and on which it is impossible to be silent.”

Music speaks whether or not it has words. It speaks of the heart; and the heart is the deepest part of man—namely, the soul.

Our souls are constantly running and searching for that which we ourselves cannot fill; our experiences of beauty tell us this. If we hear a song that we love and that speaks so deeply to us, we listen to it on repeat. We can’t get enough of it. If we see something beautiful, we want more of it; we wish the moment of beholding it would last forever. Our experiences of beauty in the people we love are like this too; we’re so overwhelmed with love for them or we’re so elated at the experience we’re having with them that we wish the moment would last longer.

The way music moves us is a reminder that our tastes of beauty on this earth will never be enough—but how good for us that is.

God is the lover of our souls. And lovers love to tease. He reminds us so playfully that this, yes, this—this song, this sunset—is meant just for us in this moment. But He is better. He would fill us more than this created thing. And we would be filled forever. Not in this life, but in our eternal life with Him. And our fickle hearts need constant reminders that we must never stop running after Him. Beauty is the experience of: Ah! What glory! But how sad that this will end! That is how it is supposed to be. Beauty makes us run home to our Lover; just as He never stops running to us.

Whether it’s music or some other experience of true beauty (art, films, poetry, whatever!), God is after our hearts in it. He is after our hearts in every note, every reflection of light on leaves, every fragrant smell of a flower, every drop of rain that hits our windowpane. He uses everything to call us to Himself, even man-made things like music. He loves using our own man-made things to speak to us—He can speak more on our level, in our own words, in our own ways of understanding. He’s that kind of God; One that stoops to our level just to be a little nearer to us.

So when you listen to music, listen with ears that hear more than just a melody and words; listen for a Lover who is speaking to you through everything coursing through creation, and let your heart be moved by the One who made it.

And, just for fun, here are a few songs I recommend that have moved me deeply and still do, no matter how many times I listen:

This song spoke to me about the way God knows me so intimately and how, as I discover Him, I realize that my heart says back, “I loved you many years before you came.”

This song is about Good Friday, and the line that sticks with me the most is, “Oh how you wish to be with me.”

This song is about the younger son in the Prodigal Son story, and it revealed how similar my own heart is—and how the Father’s heart responds to mine.

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