“My God, I Love Thee:” Why Are We Praising God?

I told myself I was going to spare you the perfunctory “these are all the reasons I haven’t blogged in a while” paragraph. I’ll keep it short: I’ve been not very busy–just been watering blueberries and writing letters, mainly. Watching stuff grow. It’s been a great time:)

Today at my church we sang a praise song that had as a bridge the following line:

I’ll praise You, not that I have to, not that I ought to, but that I may.

We must have sung this 8-9 times, and I still didn’t know how I felt about it by the song’s end. What does that mean? I am having a hard time figuring out what exactly the distinction is that the authors are trying to make.

My sister says what the intent must have been is something more like this: We praise God not only because we ought to, and we praise Him not because He forces us to, but because He lets us praise Him.

Okay, yes. That seems like a distinction I can get behind. But seriously? I have a hard time believing that any children in the congregation are going to make that connection from the way the bridge of the song was worded. In the distinction the authors made between reasons for praising God, it sure sounds like the emphasis is on the person offering praise.

It’s also just really unclear phrasing: I’m pretty sure the intention is not to say that we ought not praise God, but I would definitely understand someone younger or new to the faith hearing that as the song’s meaning.

Finally, when do we actually praise God in these songs? A big problem in some of the standard worship songs these days is that we do a lot of build-up with phrases like “we pour out our praise,” but never actually get to the praise part.

Is it a wonderful thing that God has drawn us to a place where we may praise Him? Yes.

Is it marvelous that God alone is worthy of worship? Yes, absolutely. Let’s rejoice that we get to worship our Creator.

But is there a way to then sing together of God’s character and attributes and actually ascribe Him that praise we say we’ve come to offer? Please?

Inner me: Jo, Jo, Jo. You are being too picky and critical and unhelpfully divisive. Don’t rag on your fellow brothers and sisters who are serving the Lord by writing today’s worship and praise anthems. They are doing the best they can and appealing to how people worship nowadays, rather than sticking to old language no one understands.

Well, dang it–they can do better. We need to be better, not just for our own sakes, but for the sake of being as clear as we can about why we worship God, and how we worship God, and for goodness’ sake, would it hurt us to look in a hymnal sometime?

As Christians, we don’t have to be afraid of old-fashioned phrases or difficult concepts–and goodness, wouldn’t it be better to tackle them head-on and early, so that our kids aren’t uninformed about their faith and blind-sided later on?

I get that it’s important to make the language we use as accessible as we can, but I also think that our worship is a key time to remind ourselves of what we know of God from Scripture. It’s a time to take the focus completely off ourselves, and confess together what we believe about our Savior.

It’s a time to instruct our children in the fundamentals of theology, so that hopefully later in the life they don’t think that theology and studying the Bible is only for pastors and teachers. Song in worship can serve all these purposes, and it seems insufficient to settle for an emotional, feel-good moment that may be due more to the repetition of words than to our true understanding of their meaning.

I’m going to end this post with a hymn from 1849 by Francis Xavier, which seems to be making a distinction about our motivation for loving God that’s similar to that of the modern song I quoted earlier.

I think it does the job better because the author takes the time and effort to develop his reasoning for claiming what he does. A child listening to this hymn would never have to sing the same line over and over, not understanding the full meaning.

And then just consider the emphasis of the hymn: where do we end? Who do we end up talking to, and about? Here is “My God, I Love Thee:”

My God, I love thee, not because I hope for heav’n thereby,
Nor yet for fear that loving not I might forever die;
But for that thou didst all mankind upon the cross embrace;
For us didst bear the nails and spear, and manifold disgrace.

And griefs and torments numberless, and sweat of agony;
E’en death itself, and all for man, who was thine enemy.
Then why, most loving Jesus Christ, should I not love thee well?
Not for the sake of winning heav’n, nor any fear of hell.

Not with the hope of gaining aught, not seeking a reward,
But as thyself hast loved me, O ever-loving Lord!
E’en so I love thee, and will love, and in thy praise will sing,
Solely because thou art my God and my eternal King!

Thank you for reading:) What I’d like to do is foster a conversation about what sorts of praise songs are helpful, rather than just getting mad about songs I don’t like so well. Not sure if I did so hot on that second goal.

So let me know your thoughts–is there a song or hymn that you find particularly helpful? I’d love to hear about it!

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“Sometimes a Light Surprises”

Today I ran as far as I could, trying to rid myself of how overwhelmed I was feeling.
I can’t run that far, friends.

My response to dealing with one hard thing is to become anxious about all the other potential hard things awaiting me. And I can pretend all I want that I’ve conquered worry and fear and anxiety. It’s just not true.

Today, as many times before, there came a point when I was exhausted from running. Exhausted from trying to stuff my fears back down into myself; trying to deal with everything quietly and on my own; trying to excuse my worrying as only an unfortunate habit.

Every time I reach this point, Phillipians 4:6-7 runs through my head, over and over. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

It sounds so easy. Just stop being anxious, Jo. Tomorrow will worry about itself. You know this.

Sometimes it seems like it’s the very things we know best with our heads that are hardest to keep solidly in our hearts.

Take a look at a hymn written by William Cowper (1731-1800), who also wrote “There Is a Fountain” and other great hymns:

Sometimes a light surprises
The Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord, who rises
With healing in His wings:
When comforts are declining,
He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining,
to cheer it after rain.

In holy contemplation
We sweetly then pursue
The theme of God’s salvation,
And find it ever new;
Set free from present sorrow,
We cheerfully can say,
Let the unknown tomorrow
Bring with it what it may.

It can bring with it nothing
But He will bear us through;
Who gives the lilies clothing
Will clothe His people, too;
Beneath the spreading heavens,
No creature but is fed;
And He who feeds the ravens
Will give His children bread.

Though vine nor fig tree neither
Their wonted fruit should bear,
Though all the field should wither,
Nor flocks nor herds be there;
Yet God the same abiding,
His praise shall tune my voice,
For while in Him confiding,
I cannot but rejoice.

Isn’t it an encouraging hymn? Listen again to these words: “Set free from present sorrow, we cheerfully can say, ‘Let the unknown tomorrow bring with it what it may.'”

That Cowper guy, he must have really known about worrying and what the biblical response ought to be. Well, yes, you might say that, but let’s look closer.

William Cowper was friends with John Newton–even wrote hymns with him–and there are accounts of their interaction. Cowper struggled with depression for much of his adult life, at one point even attempting suicide. John Newton encouraged him through these times, but Cowper thought that he had committed an unforgivable sin in trying to take his own life.

Eventually, he stopped attending church, although he remained close friends with Newton until his death in 1800. Several hymns written in the latter part of his life attest that William Cowper still trusted in Christ, but did he ever get rid of his depression?

William Cowper, struggling with depression, penned these words: “Yet God the same abiding, his praise shall tune my voice, for while in Him confiding, I cannot but rejoice.”

Was he relieved from all worries and cares in his life? Or did he just pretend he wasn’t struggling? Likely neither was the case. Not until William Cowper met his Savior face-to-face, was he relieved of his crippling depression. We can see from his hymns that he knew the right answer, and I think that he probably returned again and again to the comfort he found in Scripture.

What can we say about dealing with depression, or anxiety, or worry, plain-and-simple? Can we fix ourselves by somehow having enough faith, or by pasting on a smile and pretending we’re not anxious?

Here’s a better question: what are we to do with our anxiety and cares, when they come? We don’t ignore them, or think God won’t listen because well, here we are again, worrying about that same old thing, worrying about a new thing altogether, not having learned the lesson from last time.

God listens, friend. Go to Him. Tell Him. 

Do you know that He meets the poor in spirit right here, wherever they’ve stopped running because they’re exhausted from handling everything on their own? My weakness, your weakness, William Cowper’s weakness–all these are opportunities to learn more and more what God’s peace is like.

And no, in this life we may never stop dealing with worry or even depression–but the point is that God is able to draw us to Himself even through tough moments when we are vulnerable and overwhelmed.

He inspired William Cowper to write a powerfully encouraging hymn, all the more powerful because the author proved in his heart (again and again) what he knew with his head.

 

Thanks for reading! Reach out in the comments or through email if you’ve got thoughts on this topic and want to have a conversation. I’d like to be praying with you:)

To Tune a Heart

“Come, Thou Fount of ev’ry blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace.”

We know this one, right? Written by Robert Robinson in the 1700s, tune by John Wyeth (as I literally just now learned)? What a hymn, friends–what a concept: that our hearts must be tuned like instruments to praise our Master Craftsman. The hymn goes on–

Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount–I’m fixed upon it–mount of Thy redeeming love.

Here I raise mine Ebenezer–hither by Thy help I’m come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger, wand’ring from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wand’ring heart to Thee.
Prone to wander–Lord, I feel it–prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart–O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.

This is helpful stuff. But what on earth is an “Ebenezer?”

Other than a type of Scrooge, I mean.

I looked it up in our huge, Random House Dictionary of the English Language (because I’m stubborn and because I wrote this long paper once about posthumanism), and I didn’t learn the definition. [I did, however, learn what an ebeniste is: a French cabinetmaker, if you were wondering].

SO I caved and went to the online OED, which defined “Ebenezer” so:

1a. The name of the memorial stone set up by Samuel after the victory of Mizpeh: see 1 Sam. vii. 12. Used appellatively in religious literature in fig. phrases, alluding to the sentiment ‘Hitherto hath the Lord helped us’, associated with the origin of the name.

Okay cool–so I looked up 1 Samuel 12. It’s a great passage, all about Samuel giving the Israelites a reminder of what he’s been telling them all his life: Trust God. Serve the Lord. Fear Him.

But I don’t see any mention of a memorial stone. It’s kind of a sad passage–the people have demanded a king, even though God was their king–and God has given them Saul, and Samuel says that if the people and their king will continue to follow God, all will be well. But the people have a habit of forgetting, and it’s pretty clear Samuel knows this.

He ends with something that’s a cross between a blessing and a warning:

“Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own. As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right.

But be sure to fear the Lord and serve hm faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will be swept away.” (1 Samuel 12: 20-25)

Wherever that memorial stone is in the passage–that same idea pervades Robinson’s hymn: that God tunes our hearts by reminding us what He has done.

Fount of blessing. Streams of mercy. Redeeming love. Let these reminders bind our hearts to our Savior, who rescued us before we knew how lost we were, back when we were wandering aimlessly and serving useless idols.

What’s reminded me of this is a poem by George Herbert (my favorite poet) called Denial. I’ll give the whole thing, but especially note the rhyme and meter and how they change:

When my devotions could not pierce
Thy silent ears,
Then was my heart broken, as was my verse;
My breast was full of fears
And disorder.

My bent thoughts, like a brittle bow,
Did fly asunder:
Each took his way; some would to pleasures go,
Some to the wars and thunder
Of alarms.

As good go anywhere, they say,
As to benumb
Both knees and heart in crying night and day,
Come, come, my God, O come!
But no hearing.

O that thou shouldst give dust a tongue
To cry to thee,
And then not hear it crying! All day long
My heart was in my knee,
But no hearing.

Therefore my soul lay out of sight,
Untuned, unstrung;
My feeble spirit, unable to look right,
Like a nipped blossom, hung
Discontented.

O cheer and tune my heartless breast;
Defer no time,
That so thy favors granting my request,
They and my mind may chime,
And mend my rhyme.

Do you see how crazy the meter is in here? And the rhymes go back and forth in each stanza until the last line, when there’s an effect of brokenness: Disorder. Alarms. Discontented. Untuned. Unstrung. 

And then. The speaker’s prayer is that God will “cheer and tune [his] heartless breast,” and that, being in tune with the will of His Father, his offering will be acceptable.

Teach us some melodious sonnet, God–and let us remember what You’ve done throughout history to glorify how good and great You are. Mend our feeble spirits, and let our hearts be satisfied with Your mercy.

Music and Graduation

Waiting to graduate is like waiting for a train to actually come into the station, when it’s still a mile out and creeping along. You can see the bright light, you can hear it whistling, and the bar at the railroad crossing has just lowered and is flashing and dinging like mad. Exciting times–but hard not to rush these last few weeks. Motivation has made herself pretty scarce these days.

I wrote that a month ago as the beginning of some unfinished blog post. I think I’ll leave it unfinished. It certainly felt true at the time, but today the graduation train is closer to the station and I don’t feel so impatient. I feel downright sentimental about that train. And while I’m still glad to be finishing college, I don’t feel as much like getting the heck out of Dodge as I did a month ago.

It’s kind of like how, when I was a kid living in the country, I wanted to live in a neighborhood, with a cute, normal house instead of a crazy in-construction mobile home. But when we moved to said cute, normal house, I yearned more than anything for the freedom and space of the country. I’m not exactly digging in my heels to stay in college forever, but I feel really glad for every second I’ve spent here.

Tonight I went to a choir concert, the 200th or so of all the concerts I’ve been required to attend as a music major. Just a few days ago, I tossed that figure out as a complaint–“ugh, look at all the music stuff I’ve had to go to since they wouldn’t let me quit music!” But oh goodness, tonight I looked up at all the lovely faces of new friends and old friends and started bawling like a baby.

Not literally bawling. My eyes just started leaking, and I tried to shield my face from my friend sitting next to me, even though we’ve known each other since the first day of freshman year. Every song was more beautiful than the last, and I praised God for the wonderful, gorgeous gift of music. I was smiling, too, but mostly through these crazy tears because I am so thankful I had to go to those 200 concerts, if only so that I’d be there tonight.

Most of the things I complain about are precious gifts that I’m failing to recognize as such. Having to go listen to music as homework is one of those, I guess.

Last night I played in a concert–an extremely loud, raucous, steel drum concert–where I got to play an African drum, a Snapple bottle, and a chicken waterer, among other things. Oh, the fun I’ve had in that group! Looking back, it was a big factor in reminding me why I liked music in the first place. It brought some of the fun back into it. Sharing music with others to bring them joy is a lovely privilege that I’ve enjoyed for four whole years.

Tomorrow is my last piano lesson–maybe ever. That’s a hard thing to think about. My parents have ensured that music lessons have been available to me almost every week of my life since third grade. I’ve had a rocky relationship with some of my teachers–and especially with the reality of practicing–but dear God, thank You for the lessons.

Thank You for teachers who encouraged me to play well in order to make music, not in order to live up to their personal expectations of what I ought to be.

That last part sounds bitter, but it’s not. I learned a great deal from all my teachers, but I guess I’m especially grateful for those who recognized that music is best when it’s enjoyed, both by the listener and the performer. I know that excellence ought to be striven for in everything, but I think that the joy people derive from music is the most precious thing about it, even if we’re talking about a two-year-old banging on a cooking pot with a wooden spoon.

If I could learn how to present music–my study of it, my listening of it, all of it–to the Lord in recognition that He’s the one who made it, how much more value it would have! I was listening to a sermon earlier about how it’s often the “good and precious gifts” we’re given that we’re also tempted to make into idols–into things that we treat as more valuable than God. It’s the same everywhere–those wild surges of joy we feel when we experience something we really love; those tears I shed when I was moved by the music; the delight we see in seeing someone smile–all of these we’re tempted to think of as being the best it can be.

But these are only glimpses.

I hope that the glimpses of joy you see will remind you of the coming Joy that’s in Christ.

Thanks for reading:)

 

Much Ado About Nothing: The Expression of a Mood

Like Shakespeare? Read this post. Hate Shakespeare? Read this post. Think Shakespeare is only for pretentious nerds and weirdo theater people? Read this post. 🙂

As children, my siblings and I watched Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing multiple times. The movie delighted us, although the Shakespearean language was certainly “greek” to us, all subtle (or not-so-subtle) innuendos flying straight over our intrigued heads. In determining why we loved the movie so, I picked out at least three aspects that overcame our language and context barriers.

First, the music, composed by Patrick Doyle, evokes a simple, sleepy feel, at times swelling to climaxes of ridiculously heroic proportions. Second, the scenery matches the score’s mood perfectly, showcasing vineyards in quiet, sunny afternoons, the gardeners all dressed in simple garb and perfectly happy in their work. Most of all, though, we felt the mood of Shakespeare, a mood expressed through Branagh’s supplementation of a particular scene. The scene that really sticks out comes right after Benedick and Beatrice have each been fooled into thinking the other is desperately in love with them.

We, as viewers, have left Benedick in the garden with a huge grin on his face, and have switched to Beatrice’s reconciliation with the idea. More than reconciliation, Beatrice expresses her ecstasy by grabbing a garden swing and flying back and forth in the sunlight. Then, as the music swells, we see Benedick, still in his part of the garden, splashing around the once-sleepy, green fountain. The fountain pool is frothy now, churned into a lively blue, as Benedick kicks and flings the water out of its container. There are no words, the characters having talked incessantly up to this point, and what remains is their pure, exuberant joy. We see Beatrice smile up into the sun, her simple white dress glowing; and at the same time we see Benedick practically dancing around the fountain pool, getting his uniform sopping wet—gloriously wet. The music crescendos, signaling to the mature viewer that this, not the misunderstanding between Hero and Claudio, is the focus of the movie. While Benedick and Beatrice’s situation is still a misunderstanding, it is a happy one, and more worthy of our attention.

I suppose what impresses me most, now that I’ve grown and read Shakespeare for myself, is how Branagh deepens our understanding of the characters through non-verbal action. Shakespeare did a wonderful job of conveying the slightly-ridiculous relationship between two overly-clever individuals, and yet it is easy, if one is not careful, to read Benedick and Beatrice’s lines and imagine only two talking heads—two awfully-witty people who always have something to say.

To think that there might come a moment where they have no more words, where they can only act out their happiness, whether on a swing or in a fountain, lends the characters a weight of being that might not be there otherwise. Suddenly, Beatrice and Benedick are not just the witty couple with a steady supply of wisecracks, but are fragile, hopeful humans who find they have been wrong, and are delighted by the discovery.

Perhaps this last observation is no surprise to Shakespeare enthusiasts, but for Branagh to have made clear the mood, even to young, bewildered children like my siblings and myself, is quite a feat. If nothing else, seeing the movie fueled my interest in the real play, and neither has disappointed me since.

A Small Reminder

It might be helpful to think of this as a sequel to something I wrote a couple months ago, entitled Like a Headless Chicken. It has to do with the idea of being content with not knowing everything about the future, but rather simply doing what’s next, with a willing heart and a soul that rejoices in God’s provision.

I’ve been thinking more about this, and about the description of Christian discipleship as being “a long obedience in the same direction.” It’s the same, I think, with anything we decide to make of our lives. We never succeed by worrying about every hardship and struggle until we’re past it and on to the next struggle.

It’s more like my dad’s two kinds of glasses: one pair for seeing long-distance, and one for seeing up close. We look, on one hand, at who we want to be; at how we want our lives to be meaningful, and then we put on the up-close vision and simply do what’s next.

All this to say, I think I finally understand why I am both an English and a music major. I can look back and see instances where opportunities came from both of those studies–opportunities that shaped my character and interests. Currently I’m studying a literary work called “Epithalamion” by Edmund Spenser, which is a beautiful poem describing a wedding day. I’m also listening to Ralph Vaughn Williams’s choral work of the same name, and it’s lovely.

It’s just one of many realizations that where God has placed me is good, even if I didn’t see it at the time. There are so many instances where I can’t see what’s next and it drives me crazy. But it’s encouraging to remember that I don’t have to see everything in the future in order to trust that God is good.

As always, thanks for reading:)

I’m Recommending a Band

Tenth Avenue North. There you go. You don’t actually have to read any more of this blog post, cause mostly I’ll just be talking about how I’ve enjoyed their music lately, and maybe I’ll quote parts of the songs that have been most helpful to me. I’m not telling you to go listen to them. I’m inviting you to listen, because maybe you’ll enjoy it. That’s all.

If you are still reading, and you aren’t really sure what band I’m trying to recommend, I’ll be clearer. The band is Tenth Avenue North, and if you listen to Christian radio, chances are you’ve heard them already, especially their songs “Love is Here” and “By Your Side.” So I’m not being hipster at all, I guess, because they’re kinda semi-popular, maybe? I don’t know.

Friends know I tend to go through phases of really really enjoying a band for a short period of time, before moving on to something new (looking at you, Jukebox the Ghost). So it could be I’ll read this in a few years and shudder at what horrible judgment I had to recommend this horrible band Tenth Avenue North.

I don’t think that’ll happen, but maybe.

The main reason I’ve enjoyed this particular band lately is because their songs seem to be very much based in Scripture. If they aren’t quoting Scripture directly, the themes of their songs line up quite well with what I believe. Distinction: they line up with what I believe, and with what I know, which isn’t always the same thing as what I happen to be feeling at any given time. I can assent intellectually to any number of truthful things, but it doesn’t mean I wholeheartedly live every day in light of the truth.

My heart has this infuriating tendency to rebel against my head.

So on their album called “The Light Meets the Dark,” for example, when I hear the following words, I connect in a way that’s rare with a lot of modern Christian music:

I’ve got voices in my head and they are so strong // And I’m getting sick of this, oh Lord, how long // will I be haunted by the fear that I believe // My hands like locks on cages // of these dreams I can’t set free // …please Lord how long // Will I be held captive by the lies that I believe // My hear’ts in constant chaos and it keeps me so deceived // …My mind is like a building burning down // I need your grace to keep me…from the ground // And my heart is just a prisoner of war // A slave to what it wants and to what I’m fighting for // Empty my Hands

“…My hands like locks on cages of these dreams I can’t set free.” Man. I am frustrated to no end by this, my apparent inability to stop fretting about what I wanted or how I thought it should be. We can only pray that God will empty our hands for us, changing our hearts to desire what He desires for us.

Or how about this one:

…We’re caught in the in between // Of who we already are and who we are yet to be // And we’re looking for love but finding we’re still in need // It’s only what we have lost will we be allowed to keep // And we’re waiting but our eyes are wandering // To all this earth holds dear //

Yeah–there’s a pretty good picture of being a new creation in Christ, and having a new spirit, a recreated heart, but a very human body which still gets easily distracted. The song continues,

Look at all the pretty things that steal my heart away // …Lord I love so many things that keep me from Your face // Come and save me // …We run to finally be set free // But we’re fighting for what we already have received //

I need that reminder, that Christ has already redeemed me, but that, day to day, His righteousness does not come naturally or easily for me. In fact, I tend to fail miserably. If I’m attempting this on my own, I will get distracted every time, maybe even by “pretty things,” things that aren’t necessarily bad, but that keep me from seeking Christ first.

So, anyway, those’re some of the songs on this one particular album. It would be ridiculous of me to go quote all of the songs, as much as I think they’re worth the while. The other album I have is called “Over and Underneath,” and while I may not quote much from it, I’ll describe it. It’s a little like reading the Psalms: full of honest crying out to God for comfort and satisfaction.

The last track on the album is called “Hallelujah.”

Aaaaaaaaah. It’s just good.

Their other two albums I don’t own, but I listen on youtube/spotify (which is what I guess I’m recommending you do–after that, if you want to, then you can buy all their albums so they can keep doing what they’re doing:). One’s called “The Struggle;” the other is “Cathedrals.” I’ll be briefer with these:

Cathedrals

We were built by the hands of love
Redeemed in spite of what we’ve done
We are the spirit’s dwelling place
And now, children of the light
Fight back darkness with delight
Lift your eyes up to His face
Let joy take temptation’s place

Open up our souls to feel Your glory
Lord, we are a desperate people
Your cathedrals
God, fill this space
Let joy take temptation’s place
We will taste and see You as You are

Father, let Your kingdom come
Keep us from our lesser loves
Nothing else can satisfy
Like the joy found in Your eyes

May we see You as You are.

Forgive Me

I hear you calling out my name, Lord
But I can’t look you in the eye
So I, I just stay away
I tried and tasted what’s forbidden
And it filled me with delight
But now I’m still hungry inside

Forgive me, forgive me Lord, for living, like I’m not yours
I forget, how kind you are
You are light for my foolish heart

Oh God, I let intruders into
The garden of my soul
Foxes are running wild
I thought you were holding on me now
To keep me from being free
How could I have been so wrong

What You Want

Everyday, I’ve been feeling the pressure
I always gotta know the plan
It’s a weight that I’ve tried to shoulder
I thought I could, but I can’t
And I’m so tired of chasing dreams
When I am wired to let you lead
You’re changing my heart
To want what You want
To love how You love
And that is enough
There’s no greater plan
That I need to know
You only ask me to follow

Okay, Jo. You’ve now written practically a treatise on this one band. [By the way, it is okay that I reprinted some lyrics here, isn’t it? I’m not by any means trying to rip off anyone’s creative work–on the contrary, I hope to get people listening. Hey reader, if you know the answer to that question, let me know, please, if I’ve inadvertently done something horrible by publishing this post.]

So what? Why are you praising this one Christian band so much?

There are two answers to that question.

  1. I’m a nerd.
  2. It’s not really the band that’s the point. It’s what they’re singing about. A short little blurb on the cover of one of their albums goes, in part, like this: “…we wanted those who heard our songs to hear the gospel, that is, that we don’t earn grace, grace was earned for us.”

And that’s an incredibly hopeful thing to remember.

Thanks for reading (if you made it this far!),

<><Jo