How is this possible? It can’t be!

I’m tired of listening to “Free Bird.”

Now, you gotta know something about that song and me. I have loved the live version of “Free Bird” ever since I first heard it on “One From the Road,” on vinyl. (Yeah, that long ago.) Skynyrd’s anthem is for me the apotheosis of both the guitar solo and the paean to freedom. I used to sit in my apartment living room with my acoustic, the record on the player, desperately trying to keep up with the rhythm guitarist. Forget about ever learning any of the lead parts! But it was enough.

I even love “Free Bird” so much that I featured it as the opening tune a few weeks ago in my alternative worship experience “The Bridge” here at MSU; (the theme was “what is freedom?”). Not just a snippet; the whole thing. One worshipper came early just to hear it!

But the other day, I had the CD in the changer in my car, the verses over, the solo begun, and…I turned it off! I simply wanted silence.

I was sated with “Free Bird.” Weary with an overabundance of it. That’s what “sated” means. Too much of a good thing, like the tons of salad dressing every restaurant seems to heap on salads.

This year as always the stores and the ads and our voracious families will expect us to buy, buy, buy, and give, give, give meaningless gifts that only make us weary the day after Christmas with overabundance. We’re supposed to fill every corner in our homes with stuff and more stuff, “tear down our barns and build bigger ones” like the fool in the gospel story, and then wearily pay our credit card debt the whole year until we start the whole stupid cycle over again.

I for one have loved things my whole life. I’ve got more clothes than I can possibly wear. More books than I can read. More CDs…well, you get the idea. But still I feel tired and world-weary and long for…what?

I need to be satisfied, not sated. And so do we all in this culture of overabundance, over-shopping, overeating, overdoing, over-indulgence in every possible pastime until we are sick at heart, not to mention in body.

But nothing can possibly satisfy except the experience of the Mystery at the heart of creation. As Jesus put it, only righteousness can satisfy (Matthew 5:6). Or as Augustine has it, in his famous prayer: “You have made us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.”

Not even the soaring guitars of “Free Bird” can measure up to the ecstasy of fulfillment in the glorious freedom of the children of the sovereign God.

© 2006 by Tom Cheatham