Closing Time – Broken Mortals Playlist

Published by Chet Kennedy on

When Semisonic wrote Closing Time in 1998 I’m sure they never intended for it to be played in a church. I’m fairly certain that they had no idea it would be the last song played at most of our youth nights.

Great youth nights almost always require clean up. Tearing down gigantic games, vacuuming floors, sometimes fixing drywall. Clean up is exhausting enough but when the church is crawling with teenagers it is almost impossible. So, about 5 minutes before the end of the youth night I would raise the lights, turn off the music and pronounce with a loud voice. “You do not have to go home, but you cannot stay here.”

Then I would play Closing Time on the sound system and kids got the hint, go home or I’ll be cleaning up with the leaders.

I mention this song in chapter 4 of Broken Mortals. Joshua and the children of Israel stand at the edge of the Jordan River and are not sure how they will proceed.

The first version of this chapter, which was only ever seen by my sister Marilou, was littered with lyrics from this exceptionally poignant song. Unfortunately, I had to severely mutilate this chapter when I realized I could not use the lyrics. The whole idea in chapter 4 is that Joshua and the Israellites cannot simply choose to stay where they are.

They can’t stay here, which is the refrain of the song. 

When Dan Wilson wrote this song it actually had a double meaning around the birth of his daughter Coco. I have always loved this idea, that life is about moving forward. We cannot continue to simply exist in the space we are currently comfortable in because life is about growth and new challenges.  Being STUCK is a huge concept in personal coaching and that idea resonates with me. So, chapter 4 was meant to be about the wrestle that Joshua faces when realizing that he has to cross the Jordan river but he has no idea how to go forward, he can’t simply go back into the desert and he can’t stay here.

I’m very familiar with being STUCK.

At the time of the writing I was struggling with trusting God for a number of things in my life. From handling my finances, to job situations, all the way to being the best father for my kids in spite of a very difficult home situation. I had to learn to trust that God cared more about my kids than even I did. I had to learn that he has got them in his hands. My hardest job as a father would actually be to lay them before my God and trust him with them.

This is still a daily struggle for me.

It was during the writing of this chapter that I was first contacted by Camp Chamisall. When they first called me I said a definite no. I knew I could do the job, I knew the role was fully completely within my skillset and still would be challenging. I knew that all my years of youth ministry, family ministry and camp speaking had prepared me for the role but I didn’t want to rock my own boat. I was perfectly fine staying put where I was, I was growing comfortable and didn’t feel like climbing any more hills or crossing any more raging rivers.

So, I put the chapter away.

I kept coming back to the chapter and trying to make it say something different. The more I struggled the more I saw my unwillingness to trust God with my next challenge was hindering my growth.

It wasn’t until I entertained the possibility of taking on this new role at Chamisall that the chapter began to flow again. Chapter 4 alone was almost eight months of struggle from start to finish. Which was exactly the same amount of time it took me to finally say yes to the camp position. I was still terrified of the change the role would bring but I knew that if I didn’t step into the river I would never move forward with my life.

If you find in your own life that you are growing tired of being too comfortable, if you are starting to wonder what’s next it might be time to see what God has in store for your next adventure.

You can’t stay here.

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