Hello From The Other Side

She’s done it again.

Adele has us mesmerized. With her soulful vocals and can’t-get-them-out-of-your-head melodies, she has captured our hearts, our minds, and everything about us, including our wallets. Take a look at these brief record-breaking sales numbers for 25, provided by Billboard:

  • 3.38 – There were 3.38 million copies of 25 sold in the U.S. during the first week of its release. Since music sales tracking began in 1991, no album has sold that many units in 1 week.
  • 41% – During the week of 25’s release, there were 8.2 million total albums sold in the U.S. Adele’s 25 accounted for 41% of that figure.
  • 335 – The number of copies of 25 sold per minute during its debut week.
  • 2x’s – Adele’s 25 sits atop the Top Album Sales Chart and its sales are more than double the rest of the entire chart combined.

Adele doesn’t play around, and apparently neither do we when it comes to her music. We gotta have it. We stay up until it shows up on iTunes for purchase and we go to sleep with the sound of Love in the Dark as our nighttime lullaby. We get angry when it’s not on Spotify. And if we don’t have the money on hand and funds are running low, we’ll empty our Minions piggy bank, take our change to one of those machines at the grocery store that gives cash for coin, use the cash to buy an iTunes gift card, apply the card to our account, and there…homeostasis restored.

We can breathe again. We can listen again. Our hearts can beat again. It’s because her music affects us. It reaches us. It latches onto us. And as her last album, 21, was the highest selling album of both 2011 & 2012, it seems her music doesn’t let us go.

And if the past week is any indication of the future, her grip isn’t letting up anytime soon.

The Feelings of Us All

There is no mystery surrounding Adele’s success. She is incredibly, massively, wickedly talented. We would pay to hear her sing the phonebook with that voice. Am I right? But the talent doesn’t stop at vocal cords. It goes down deeper and plays resounding symphonies using another instrument: our heart strings. Her words and emotion capture us because the stories she tells are the stories we’re living. We sing Someone Like You with tears rolling down our face on the way to Target, holding a hair brush as a microphone because we believe that the words of that song are about the very instance happening in our lives. How did she know this was happening to me? We’ve streamed Hello 35.5 million times because it makes us believe we’re not alone. We’ve watched that very same song 547,789,000 times on YouTube because there are 547,789,000 people wandering around wondering the same thing:

Why hasn’t she called back? Does he not want to talk to me? Can you hear me over here? I am dying without you and I just want you to respond! I want you to forgive me!

This is what great music does. This is what great stories do. They throw you into the middle, thinking that what you’re hearing, what you’re watching, is you.

This is how I feel. This is what I wish I could say. I just want to say I am sorry and hope that we can move on from this. Better, healed, and forgiven.

We listen because we believe what we’re listening to is the anthem of our own soul. It’s vulnerable. It’s exposed. It’s raw. And it’s exactly how we feel. How did she know? But past the unfulfilled romance and the unanswered phone calls, the good news is that the outcome to our story, the most important narrative we are all involved in, ends very differently than the one we’ve streamed 35.5 million times to relive.

 

Hello From The Other Side

Adele has part of the story right. Forgiveness is needed. Something has happened. There’s a divide. We’ve done something wrong. More importantly, Someone has been wronged. This is the narrative of the Bible. This is the narrative of the world. This is the conflict, the tension. Due to our sin, our choosing everything else, namely ourselves, above God, removing Him from His rightful throne and making ourselves cozy in His seat, we’ve wronged Him. Our sense of false deity has pushed us out of relationship with him and broken our bond of communion that was once free and healthy and right.

We broke it off.

We have severed our fellowship with the Creator of the universe with the knife of our own self-centeredness.

We see the bleak picture of this broken bond with our God depicted in the writing of Isaiah 59.

“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” [Is. 59:1-2]

This is the one relationship that has to be in tact for us to have life, hope, rest, peace, blessing, and love. To experience these outside of the bond with God the Father is to not experience them to the fullest. The relationships we have with those we live next to, those we love and share life with, are but mere shadows of what we find in God. And so here in Isaiah, we get the biblical truth that is the reality behind the shadow we find in Adele’s Hello. Isaiah continues,

“Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness but we walk in gloom.” [v. 9]

“[we] hope for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us.” [v.11]

We’re crying out. We need rescue. We need salvation. We need God to turn to us. Hello, it’s us! Can you hear us? We’re calling a thousand times to say sorry. We are in darkness, yearning for light. We are in silence, longing for a voice to break through.

This is where the greatest story is different than the story found in the record-breaking ballad. In our story, God has answered. God has responded. God has confirmed that forgiveness is available. God has come to us, closed to gap of separation, spoke into the silence, and assured us that salvation is not far from us. We are not in darkness. We are not in gloom. The desperation of the unknown we feel over the relationship that just ended and the phone call we are dying to receive does not belong in our thoughts concerning God. There is no silence on the other end.

“The LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him…”And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,’ declares the LORD.” [vv.15-16, 20]

In Christ, God has granted us the glorious news that forgiveness, salvation for humanity, is available. Christ has broken the silence through his death and resurrection. Christ tells the disciples in the end of Luke’s Gospel:

“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

The proclamation of forgiveness through Christ shatters the doubt and insecurity of our hearts-in-waiting. In Christ, God has responded. He has answered definitively to say He is there and He has made a way back to Him. He has made a way back home. He has turned his ear. He has spoken.

He has called out from the other side.

In Christ, God has made a way back home. He has spoken. He has called out from the other side.

Jonathan C. Edwards (@NotThePuritan)

Jonathan (M.Div, Th.M) is the Director of Curriculum for Docent Research Group. He is the author of "Left: The Struggle to Make Sense of Life When a Parent Leaves," available now!

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