“Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley has been playing on repeat in my head for the past few days, but with each repetition I find myself loving the song even more.
It has a relaxing tune.
The words are simple, yet beautiful.
You’ve probably heard this song, even if you don’t recognize the name. It’s been covered by a million different artists, it was in the second installment of The Conjuring for some reason, and it’s now in your search history.
The funny thing about having something lodged in your brain like this, whether you wanted it there or not (with each passing moment I become more grateful, personally), is that you suddenly become prone to thinking more deeply about the subject matter. That was really unfortunate when the song was Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, and Justin Bieber’s cover of “Despacito”, but I digress. When I do find myself pondering the lyrics of Elvis’s gentle tune, it is difficult not to connect the song to my Christian faith. After some reflection and listening to the song on repeat through my phone instead of my brain, I have concluded that Elvis, wittingly or not, managed to write a love letter of exceptional quality to God, Himself.
How could that be? “Can’t Help Falling in Love” was a massive hit in the pop genre in its time, and it was obviously written for a significant other of Elvis’s. There’s a reason we don’t jam out to this on our Christian radio stations, surely. I have to contend, however, that this ballad about blind trust, sacrifice, and love has everything to do with the most basic of roots of our faith, and it teaches valuable lessons about how we should approach God in our everyday lives. And don’t call me Shirley.
First thing’s first: The first verse (say that five times fast). This is as long as phrases get in this song:
Wise men say only fools rush in,
but I can’t help falling in love with youElvis Presley: Can’t Help Falling in Love
From this, we can tell two things. The first is obvious: Elvis is deeply in love. That also happens to be the overall message of the song. But the second idea is a bit deeper: Elvis, moved by the love that he feels so strongly, is committing to “rushing in” to this relationship. Not only that, but he simultaneously acknowledges and dismisses the “wise men” who would advise against such a swift commitment.
This second point is of more significance to us Christians. When we take a moment to reflect on the many things that God has in store for us; when we take into account everything He has already done for us; and when we find ourselves deeply, passionately in love with God because of this; all we want to do is to “rush in” to God and pour out everything we have to Him. Kind of like Elvis with his significant other.
However, there will always be skeptics. It is puzzling to me that those who doubt the existence of any deity are the ones viewed in our society as “wise men” (and women) for their doubt. When confronted by these “wise men” in our lives – those who warn against committing ourselves to God (who has committed Himself to us since even before our conceptions) – it is crucial that we still “rush in” to God and His waiting embrace.
Next we have the chorus:
Like the river flows –
surely to the sea –
darling, so it goes
Some things are meant to beElvis Presley: Can’t Help Falling in Love
Here, Elvis tells of a fate-sealed bond between himself and his significant other. It is inevitable that he and she will end up together, and it is this inevitability that justifies his total commitment to her from the get-go. When we talk about things being “meant to be”, are we talking about destiny? Fate? Or are we talking about God’s will?
I prefer the third option. If we take a deeper look through the lens of it being a love letter to the Lord, we can see that Elvis is insisting that it is God’s plan that he ends up with God. This is nothing short of the truth. We can’t claim to know much about God’s plan, other than one thing: God intends for us all to join Him in Heaven.
Our eternal relationship with God is “meant to be” because it is God’s own will. However, this is also an easy thing to forget sometimes. When we undergo the struggles that life poses, our faith can be strained. The commitment that once fulfilled us on its own is drained of its luster. So, we have to do whatever it is that reminds us of what’s in store for us. When you reach that point, remember this:
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Romans 5:6-8
No matter how unworthy of being part of God’s plan we might feel at times, no matter how down on ourselves and God we are, and no matter how unmotivated we are, we have to remember Christ’s ultimate sacrifice and what it was for. Christ died to ensure our places in the Kingdom of Heaven and now because of his sacrifice we are able to live in God’s presence.
Now for the second verse:
Take my hand
Take my whole life, too
For I can’t help falling in love with youElvis Presley: Can’t Help Falling in Love
This is arguably the most powerful line in the song, whether it’s taken as a promise to a significant other or as a statement of conviction to the Lord. At first, you might’ve been asking yourself, “After we ‘rush in’ then what do we do? Do we just vibe there, or is there more to be done?” This line answers that question pretty well, I think.
“Take my hand.” He guides us, welcomes us. “Take my whole life, too.” We then submit ourselves to His command. Once we allow God to guide us toward Him, we have to submit ourselves totally to that plan of His. Do whatever it is to which He calls us. That’s what Noah did with that giant Ark. That was to what Moses was called in Egypt. That was what happened with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. That way, as is meant to be, we will be welcomed to God’s kingdom forever.
So you heard it here, folks! One of Elvis Presley’s songs might just belong in Psalms! “Can’t Help Falling in Love” reminds us of the integrality of God’s plan in our lives, especially when our commitment to God feels too difficult to maintain. We’ve all been there. But when we take a step back for a second to appreciate everything God has done for us and will continue to do for us; when we consider the myriad others of faithful and unfaithful who were called to do something extraordinary, something greater than themselves, in order to further God’s plan; and when we examine our own consciences only to learn that with no other god’s eyes would we be important or good followers; we can better understand our relationship with Him.
When we follow God’s plan by resigning our own interests to experience the deepest love we can feel, which we are all called to do – currently faithful and unfaithful – we are promised eternal life.
And maybe… just maybe… after we’ve finally entered those gates…
We’ll be able to jam out to this with Elvis himself.