Music has always been important to me. Its influence has reached into many areas of my life. From my earliest childhood, music always had an effect on me and could move me to various moods, depending on the kind of music I heard. As I’d listen to either a classical piece or a musical comedy, my emotions would be stirred. I couldn’t explain the feelings of elation or longing that I experienced; I only knew that I was deeply moved.
Years before I became a believer in Jesus, I was drawn to music that spoke of God and his Son. That may seem odd for someone like me, raised in a Jewish home, with years of religious training that included a bat mitzvah (confirmation) and a good understanding of Judaism; but something was missing. My religious training had taught me more about my Jewish heritage and culture than about God and the meaning of life.
Perhaps for that reason I always had a curiosity about Jesus. I’d hear Christmas music sung by huge choirs and marvel at the words. Throughout my school years—junior high, high school and college—I always participated in the choral concerts. We’d perform special music at Christmas and Easter, and I’d wonder about the message of those religious” pieces we sang. Who was Jesus? Why had more books and music been written about him than about any other single subject? Why had he made such an impact on humanity?
As a music major in college, I would listen for long periods of time to the awesome Gregorian chants, captivated by the men’s voices echoing within the church sanctuaries where they sang. Then there were the sensitive Palestrina motets and the gripping Bach cantatas. Bach, a very spiritual Christian, painted vivid pictures with his music. The vocal and instrumental arrangements expressed to me images of the cross, heaven, and Jesus’ death and resurrection. As I’d listen, I’d marvel at all of this, and long to understand why I reacted to it so strongly.
In the years that followed, I pursued my interest in secular musical theater and concentrated on philosophies quite far from God as I searched for truth. Nevertheless, throughout that time the Holy Spirit kept alive the small spark of truth that he had kindled in me through Christian music.
When at last I came to know the Lord, it was because of two Christians with whom I was working in the field of secular music. They “reintroduced” me to my own Jewish Bible, showing me prophecies about the Messiah made thousands of years ago by the Old Testament prophets: Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Daniel and others. I believed what I read and knew that the prophecies referred to Jesus.
But even more important to me than fulfilled prophecy was the very reason Jesus came—to tell us of God’s plan for redemption: that because we all sin, we are separated from God; yet by accepting his Son, our Messiah, we can bridge that gap and have our sins forgiven as we put our faith in him. I accepted Jesus into my life.
When I finally made that commitment, how glorious to my ears was the wonderful music about him. I found rich new meanings in both words and sound! Songs that I had been hearing all of my life suddenly came alive. I knew that God was real and that I could know him in a personal way. I understood at last what life is really all about—to know God through his Son Jesus, and to live for him and glorify him.
And then I was given an opportunity to join the Jews for Jesus mobile evangelistic team, the Liberated Wailing Wall. I was able to serve God by singing about Jesus, so that others could hear the gospel and be touched by the words and music. This was especially meaningful to me because I knew from personal experience that music is a tremendous way for God to reach deep down into people’s souls and convict them of his truth.
Editor’s Note: Karen Elise Brown served with the Liberated Wailing Wall from June, 1982, through late December, 1983. She is currently residing in Southern California and seeking God’s continued will for her life.