In 1965 the British band ‘Herman’s Hermits’ had a hit song entitled ‘Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter’, which was on an album I bought in the late 1960′s when I was about 10 or 12 years old. (I know, that dates me doesn’t it? I turned 55 last month, gulp, yikes!)
Even now, I have Herman’s Hermits ‘Greatest Hits’ on my iPhone as part of my ‘Easy Listening’ playlist.
We interrupt this email for an editorial, lol
I’ve said this before, and I know it doesn’t sound spiritual, but I often find it easier to pray in the Spirit and talk to the Father with some of the more mellow songs of the 1960′s and 70′s that I grew up with playing in the background, than I do with many modern Christian rock that either scream at me or have lyrics that tell me I’m lower than a snake’s belly. (But there’s a lot of great Christian worship too and I listen to a lot of that!)
But some Christian songs (even some ‘worship’ songs) are like they used to say of some country songs if you play them backwards – you get your truck back, you get your dog back, you get your girlfriend back, you get your job back…
Back to Big Picture, lol
You need to know that I’ve known ‘Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter by heart since at least 1970, and all that time I thought the opening line went like this (in my best imitation of singer Peter Noone’s heavy Manchester accent): “Mrs. Brown you’ve got a lovely daughter, girls who shop as her are something rare…”
The song is 2 minutes 24 seconds long, and for at least 43 years I’ve been happily singing along ‘Mrs Brown you’ve got a lovely daughter, girls who shop as her are something rare…’, never knowing why this teenage English boy is admiring some girl’s shopping habits – until last month.
That’s when I was listening to the Herman’s Hermits in the background while talking to the Father about the big picture and praying in the Spirit, when it happened.
Suddenly I see
I was receiving revelation about examples in the gospels where Jesus would shift attention away from the person or moment at hand to look at the big picture view for perspective, then zero in again on the issue – He clearly did that to place whatever crisis or failure of the person in the context of the big picture so they wouldn’t lose heart.
And while I was thinking on that, this song started and the Father suddenly said, “It’s like this” as He somehow turned my attention away from Him and onto the background music that now seemed much louder and suddenly very clear: ‘Mrs. Brown, you’ve got a lovely daughter, girls as sharp as her are something rare…”
OH…Girls as SHARP AS HER are something rare, not girls who shop as her are something rare!
Carry over effect
Since I was 10 or 12 years old I’d been wondering about the shopping habits of some girl from Manchester, when all along he was singing about her being ‘sharp’ – which communicates intelligence, wit, attractiveness – NOT that she was a good shopper.
The Father used this as a teaching tool and made His point clear: The 2:24 second song is like our lives, and often in the opening lines of our lives we learn something wrong, yet because we learned it early we carry it with us all our lives. This causes us to make decisions and form opinions based on that wrong belief, which makes everything built on that belief a bit off and incorrect in nearly every area.
That wrong understanding in the opening line of the song tainted the whole song for me for 45+/- years! How often do we think something of ourselves or God that we lay down as a foundation, upon which we build this whole self-image or God-image, only years later we understand the ‘lyrics’ correctly!
Those famous Swiss cows
When Barb and her best friend Kathy were about 6 years old and had probably watched the movie ‘Heidi’, about a little Swiss girl, Kathy told her she wondered how cows in Switzerland could stand on those steep Swiss mountain sides. Without missing a beat Barb told her that Swiss cows have shorter legs on one side of their body than the other, which allows them to remain level while standing on steep mountains.
12 years later and now 18 years old, Barb and Kathy were roommates in a dorm at Indiana University, and they were talking about the theory of evolution and Kathy says, ‘You know, like those Swiss cows growing short legs on one side to adapt to their environment.’.
Barb was amazed and started laughing and told her Swiss cows don’t have short legs on one side – it was just a joke. But Kathy was in disbelief and shock that it wasn’t true for she had believed that since Barb told her, and they spent the next hour looking up information on Swiss cows and their legs just to prove Barb was just joking 12 years earlier.
Big, small, big, small, big
Luke 22:14-23 is about the Last Supper and the big picture work of the cross. But in verse 24, the very next verse, the disciples did as human nature does, make an important big picture event all about them and what they think about it, which is ‘small picture’. Who will be the greatest among them?
Jesus helps them get their eyes off ‘self’ and the small picture, to look at the big picture in verses 29-30. He tells them He gives them part of the kingdom the Father gave Him, and they will judge/administrate over the 12 tribes of Israel in the future kingdom - so stop jostling for position in the here and now.
Jesus never changes – He is still urging us to get eyes off self and onto the big picture. But…
Then Jesus turns to Peter to sandwich that mighty and amazing future of them judging the 12 tribes of Israel in the kingdom to come, with a revelation that Peter is first going to be sifted like wheat. “Satan has desired to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that when you have turned again, you will strengthen your brethren.” (v31-32).
About a 1/2 step off
Peter, bless his heart and completely wrongly timed, tries to go big picture on Jesus: “I am ready to go with you both to prison and even to death!” But Jesus focuses again on the small picture: “I tell you Peter, you’ll deny me 3 times before the rooster crows.”
Looking at the big picture is not a denial of the facts nor neglecting the job at hand and issues that must be dealt with. Keeping the big picture in the back of our minds while dealing with the intense crisis of the ‘small picture’ keeps things in right perspective and gives us the strength and hope to continue on.
That’s why Jesus felt comfortable sharing the small picture of Peter’s denial of the Lord in context that he would one day sit on a throne administrating Israel in the future kingdom. He always places our problems in context of the big picture, while urging us to deal with whatever issue is at hand honestly and uprightly.
And then Jesus moves from Peter’s small picture denial to the big picture again as He tells them essentially that He is leaving them so from this point forward they need to go out fully supplied. Then they go to the big picture events of the Garden of Gethsemane.
Back to those lyrics and cows
In the first century the teaching was that Messiah was coming to defeat the Romans and restore Israel to world prominence once again as in the days of David and Solomon. It is upon that foundational misunderstanding that many of Jesus’ disciples followed Him. One of the original 12 was ‘Simon the Zealot’.
The Zealot party was a political movement that wanted to incite the people to rise up and force the Romans out. It is believed by many that was the core reason Judas betrayed Jesus, trying to get Him to prove to everyone He was Messiah and put Him in a position to confront the Romans and then have to do miraculous things to defeat them.
Even in Acts 1:6 ‘when they all came together’ right before the Ascension, as a group they asked: “Lord, is it now you are going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” They were STILL wondering if He was going to kick the Romans out at that time!
All they had seen and heard and done in the last 3 1/2 years with Jesus, now resurrected from the dead, did not undo they foundational ‘wrong lyrics’ of their life song they thought they knew so well. They still believed Swiss cows had legs on one side shorter than the other so to speak, even though they had been 3 1/2+ years with Jesus.
Are we any different?
No matter how long we walk with the Lord in this life we are still relearning the lyrics, relearning that many ‘facts’ aren’t facts at all, but error and traditions of men. Paul said in I Corinthians 14:10 there are many voices in the world, and none without significance. The trouble is that we come to the Lord and His voice which we are following, with other voices still bouncing off the walls of our minds, emotions, and life experience.
Being a disciple means rearranging those other voices, those ‘small picture’ foundations upon which we’ve built a flawed life, and putting them in correct context and seen from the proper perspective of our future and our citizenship which is even now, in heaven. (Philippians 3:20)
Suddenly, the song makes sense. Suddenly you realize those cows are like every other cow out there. And suddenly you see the Father and the Lord Jesus for the goodness that is them, and the love story begins…
New subject next week – deal with the small picture from the vantage point of the big picture!