In 1969, the Rolling Stones released an album titled, Let It Bleed. In the album is an iconic song, Gimme Shelter. It is a song expressing the angst of my generation. Cultural change was taking place with rapidity. Our prejudices were being exposed and confronted. The Viet Nam War was in the news each night. We were a nervous and unsure generation. Our cultural institutions no longer provided a sense of security. When the Stones sang Gimme Shelter, in some ways, they were singing for a culture crying out for a place of shelter in the stormy sea of cultural upheaval.
I remember being touched by God in a significant way during that time in the blossoming Jesus Movement of the late ’60s and early ’70s. Many of us stepped away from the naked fear being expressed in our culture into the shelter of a relationship with Jesus Christ. It was a simple time when structures, programs and unquestioned forms of religious tradition left us feeling alone and uncertain. We made these departures because in a time of rapid social change and shared social vulnerability, they failed to provide us with a place of spiritual and emotional shelter.
The lyrics of the Rolling Stones song, Gimme Shelter, speaks of a person encountering the storms of life and if they don’t get some shelter they will feel like “I’m gonna fade away.” The song also sings about the effects of war, rape, and murder as “just a shot away” expressing the vulnerability of imminent death or harm in the conflicts of life.
Today is beginning to look a lot like the ’60s and ’70s. The wise among us will listen to the songwriters, the poets, and the playwrights. These people are expressing the angst of culture. Do not dismiss their creations even if what you hear and see may be offensive to your beliefs or worldview. Step over your offense and listen. What these cultural interpreters produce will help us understand the emotion of our mission. While they may not provide the path to shelter they will help us understand the language needed that will reveal the path to that shelter.
In that place of shelter surrounded by the love of God, people will not fade away. They will discover their true identity. In that place of shelter, the cruel shots fired by an insensitive culture will not find a target. Our world is waiting to discover their place of shelter. We have been entrusted with a message that will lead them to that discovery. Craft your words with wisdom and discernment.