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Monday, January 13, 2020

Favorite Songs - The Enemy Within by Rush (in memory of Neil Peart)



(Are there some songs that never get old for you? You can listen to them over and over again, even after you've just listened to them, and you still enjoy them? When they also make you think about interesting and important stuff, you get the kinds of songs I'm talking about in this series of blog posts.)

Neil Peart died after a long battle with brain cancer this past week, so I wanted to celebrate his talent and accomplishments (and even more so the truth contained in many of his lyrics) by posting about a few of my favorite Rush songs.

The first is "The Enemy Within" from the album Grace Under Pressure. It's interesting that the album takes its name from the words of this song's chorus but changes them slightly to add the word "grace." That reflects the intentions of my post very well...

The "enemy within" described in the song (lyrics below) is fear, of course (the song's subtitle is "Part 1 of Fear"), but it can apply to anything that would hold us back from pursuing "the promise of adventure" or "implausible dreams" in our lives. The "experience to extremes" concluding the chorus, at first glance, might seem contrary to my Christian beliefs, but when understood in context it's not talking about drugs or sex or whatever other form of hedonism. Rather it's talking about doing good and great things that we might dream about. Understood this way, the song actually reflects one of my favorite passages in Scripture, the end of Ecclesiastes, where the wise man says, "Cast your bread upon the waters" (Eccl. 11:1). "He who observes the wind will not sow," he adds in verse 4, "and he who regards the clouds will not reap." And then in verse 6 he concludes, "In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good." He goes on to talk about the onset of old age and our declining opportunity to realize our dreams and ambitions.

In other words, "While you have the chance, go for it!" Pursue your dreams, as long as they are not contrary to God's Word (which would end up being bad for us anyway). Ecclesiastes 11:9 says, "Rejoice, young man, in your youth,...walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these God will bring you into judgment."

Though I don't think Neil Peart was thinking of drugs and sex and other forms of immorality when he encouraged "experience to extremes" in this song, I do know that (even more unfortunate than his death) he did not recognize the authority of God and the Bible in his life. At least during the part of it that he was speaking publicly, that is--I always have hope, when I hear of someone's death, that God may have granted them saving grace in their last days or hours, like Jesus did for the thief on the cross and apparently does for many, many others (see the parable in Matthew 20:1-16).

Neil Peart certainly knew a lot of the truth contained in the Bible, and that truth comes through in so many of his lyrics. I've always prayed that it would eventually lead him to the Source of all truth and that when facing the ultimate pressure of mortality pressing upon him, he would realize his need for the grace of Christ and the forgiveness of sins through the cross. (This interview reveals that grace is exactly what he didn't understand about Christianity--he thought salvation was a result of meritorious works.) 

And my prayer is the same for all of us. If we will accept that grace and forgiveness and commit our lives to the One who gives us all good things, we can boldly pursue the dreams and ambitions that are within His plan for us (and not be hindered by fear or any other enemies).

The Enemy Within

Things crawl in the darkness
That imagination spins
Needles at your nerve ends
Crawl like spiders on your skin
Pounding in your temples
And a surge of adrenaline
Every muscle tense to fence the enemy within
I'm not giving in to security under pressure
I'm not missing out on the promise of adventure
I'm not giving up on implausible dreams
Experience to extremes
Experience to extremes
Suspicious-looking stranger
Flashes you a dangerous grin
Shadows across your window
Was it only trees in the wind?
Every breath a static charge
A tongue that tastes like tin
Steely-eyed outside to hide the enemy within
I'm not giving in to security under pressure
I'm not missing out on the promise of adventure
I'm not giving up on implausible dreams
Experience to extremes
Experience to extremes
To you, is it movement or is it action?
Is it contact or just reaction?
And you, revolution or just resistance?
Is it living, or just existence?
Yeah, you, it takes a little more persistence
To get up and go the distance
I'm not giving in
I'm not missing out
I'm not giving up on implausible dreams
Experience to extremes
I'm not giving in to security under pressure
I'm not missing out on the promise of adventure
I'm not giving up on implausible dreams
Experience to extremes
Experience to extremes

Here's a live version of the song if you're interested:


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