Quite often I have some of my best thoughts and ideas in the middle of worship at church. It’s not uncommon to see me scribbling in a small blue notebook or on a bulletin instead of singing. At this point I just go with it because I figure that I’m being faithful to God in my own little way, and that my church loves me as I am.
Songs hit me deeply and they speak a beautiful language. I’m more prone to enjoy great lyrics than great music, but powerful lyrics are hard to enjoy without strong instrumental and vocal talent, so it truly is a package deal. Praise and worship songs tend to hit me two different ways. There are the songs that seem to describe the current landscape of my life and find me exactly where I am ,often knocking me to my knees. Then there the songs that, if I am honest, I sing with more of hopeful feeling. They describe a place of health and peace that is the destination of my spiritual journey rather than my current location. Some songs have scraps of both, the here and the someday, some pieces of confirmation and some humble prayers.
Let me provide you with a few examples and explanations:
I have been stuck on the same songs for a while, deal with it.
Beautiful Things, Gungor:
All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All around, hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found, in me
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
SMS Shine: David Crowder Band
Send me a sign
A hint, a whisper
Throw me a line
‘Cause I am listening
Come break the quiet
Breathe your awakening
Bring me to life
‘Cause I am fading
Surround me with the rush of angels wings
This is where I am, I am still struggling and longing for a time where the brush strokes of my life are done in more vivid colors and less gray hues. I am not complaining, my lips are filled with proclamations of the blessings that surround me. However I still spend a lot of time sorting through what I have lost, processing all the hope that will forever go unrealized. I am trying to figure out what it looks like to live in a world where my mom took her life. It has changed my worldview and my perspective. There is no quick and easy fix, and so I think and I question, I wonder and I press on. I will not linger, but I won’t lie to you either.
Then there is the other category of praise songs, here are a few examples:
Divine Romance: Phil Wickham
The fullness of Your grace is here with me
The richness of Your beauty’s all I see
The brightness of Your glory has arrived
In Your presence God, I’m completely satisfied
Your Grace is enough, Chris Tomlin
Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough, for me.
These songs are more of a prayer, because to be honest I can’t always sing these lines with confidence. I am not always completely satisfied in Gods presence and I often see a lot more than the beauty of my savior when I look around. Also, I am prone use a lot of other fluff to fill my heart and life before I find God’s grace. And when I do, I don’t always behave like it’s enough for me. These lyrics aren’t wrong and they’re not overly lofty, but I sing them more like a prayer than a description of where I find myself.
Worship is a beautiful expression of where we find ourselves and a needed reminder of where we are going. When we hear songs that describe us as we are, we’re encouraged because we feel less alone. Someone else has felt weak, empty, and they even wrote a song about it, a song that got recorded. On the other hand the songs the describe a “someday place” can point us in a positive discretion or we can choose to feel guilty and shamed. I tend to do both sometimes, but I can assure you that the author of that song wrote it to remind and uplift and not to make us feel spiritually inadequate.
Know this: No one, anywhere, ever can always sings every line of every song with perfect peace and confidence. Some songs are your “here” and some are your “someday.” We are all struggling, stumbling, getting up and pressing on. Some songs may be your “here” today and your “someday” in a few months. Life will bring us all sorts of twists and turns, just keep reaching for God, don’t’ despair, it’s not helpful.
I love powerful lyrics because they are an overflow of a heart seeking God like I am, the music that accompanies it is the exact same thing, but without words. However, since I am more of a wordsmith, I like the words.
I hope you are breathing in powerful words and music, being uplifted and refreshed by our mutual journey. I’d even love to hear about it and we can spur each other on through this week of thanksgiving.