Probably unbeknownst to many of you (and honestly, you should be really thankful for that), I’m a songwriter on the side. I’ve been writing Jesus-related songs since I was around 12 or 13. Somewhere I have a folder of hundreds of pages of words, chords, and—when I’ve had the will and energy—sheet music. (Interestingly and dorkily, I actually used to write sheet music by hand. At least now I have software that does it for me.) I’m a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and have performed several of my songs while I was worship leader in Arizona.
In any case, as my big music project for 2007, I’ve been compiling songs for an album I’ve tentatively entitled “Surrender.” On it I have songs that talk about the notion of, uh... surrender, which (surprise, surprise) has been on my mind lately.
Out of perceived necessity and personal comfort, I have had a tendency to compartmentalize my life into neat, discrete boxes. Some of those areas I surrender more willingly to God than others (e.g., Archie’s qualifying exam, student loan money). But with God doing all his disturbing of late, the boundaries between those areas have either been blurred or taken away completely. And those that I’ve refused to give up are quickly being raided and taken over. It’s like God knew that I was keeping things from him, so he broke down the walls and started mixing ’em all up. Clearly, it hasn’t been completely easy.
I’m reminded of an old song by a band called “The Waiting”:
Hands in the Air
Words & Music by Brad and Todd Olsen, Steve Hindalong, & Clark Leake
If I raise my hands just to lift the shade
Will I reveal a sky heavy and gray?
Will last night be a memory sweetly fading?
How I hate a morning starting out this way
On these lonely raging mornings I would whip You if I could
But You’re on the mighty side of strong and the perfect side of good
If I raise my hands will You grab me by the wrists?
And will You try to pull me from the fray?
And even if my fingers join together into a fist
Will You hold me firmly anyway?
‘Cause I would try to escape You but for everyday I’m sure
That You’re on the huge side of big and the holy side of pure
If I raise my hands so weak and thin and frail
Will You reveal the light of mercy in Your eyes?
If I cry to You faintly will my feeble whispers fail
Or will it find its way to a reply?
‘Cause now that I’m exhausted I think I’m ready to admit
That I’ve spent all my resistance on someone I can’t resist
Okay, hear what I say
As I raise my hands and surrender today
Okay, here I will stay
Hands in the air, singing have Thine own way
And so the focus of this album—if it ever gets made—is letting go and letting God do his thing. Which is fine, well, and good. Sometimes the act of surrendering itself is such a difficult thing to do. For many people, it takes a lifetime to understand and accept that the universe doesn’t revolve around them (!) and that there are some things that are simply out of their control.
But over coffee yesterday, my friend Jonathan challenged me to think beyond the notion of surrender. Surrender is one thing, but pursuit is another thing altogether. Surrender implies a capitulation, an admission of defeat. But pursuit means that we have to get off our asses and actually do something.
That’s what I need to work on. It’s been so tempting to just “float” through life after God smacked me around a little bit these past few months. I’ve secretly hoped that I could just hang out and drift in some direction one way or another. But I know that’s a dangerous way to live life. We need to be more intentional. We need to actually kick our arms and legs. We need to pursue him actively, passionately.