If my world was literally crumbling beneath my feet, there are only a couple of songs (4?) that I could sing with a smile because they reminded me how real my God is. I hope I get to write about all of them. That’s how much power God gives songs of worship in our lives. That even on our darkest nights, just hearing a certain song can change everything. It can immediately remove fear, anxiety, pain, worry, and turn all that into intense joy and praise.
For some background on “Goodness of God:” up until January/February, I had been in a long desert period with the Lord. I didn’t know it until January, but it was the driest desert I’d ever walked through. We don’t know we’re asleep until we wake up. I know I’ve talked to you Seniors about this, but life is really different after college, Christian community even more so. No one told me it would be that hard to transition from sharing every meal and living with my closest brothers and sisters in Christ, to watching us be slowly scattered all over the world (kind of like we are now) and placed in brand new churches and friendships. It hurt, and I let it hurt my relationship with the Lord. So much of my deep, beautiful, meaningful, vibrant connection with Him dependent upon my fellow co-laborers for Christ. Hearing them worship and seeing them devote their lives to Him in new and exciting ways brought so much healing and growth into my life. We still get to see and do those things after college, but, like I said, it’s different.
A couple of years after leaving college, I had landed in a place in my relationship with the Lord that felt comfortable. But almost in a bad way. At first, I liked it. There wasn’t a lot of pain involved. But now I realize I wasn’t comfortable, I was stagnant. I had stopped. Growth in my knowledge and love of Jesus was hard to come by and recognize. I still loved Him, but as time went on, I was moving farther away from easily remembering and recalling the depths He had saved me from.
Then I started working at Wesley House. Y’all I cannot put into words what it has meant to me to be in community with you, to hear the depths of your hearts and worship alongside you, to learn from you, be led in worship by you, to watch you fall in love with the Lord, and witness miracles He has done in your lives. To see you sacrifice for Him and devote your lives to Him. You have woken me up.
Enter Goodness of God (Live) by Bethel Music & Jenn Johnson. You gotta do that live version. I have become keenly aware of the fact that we don’t worship through song in massive groups anymore. I think this is already having and will continue to have a bigger impact on us than we realize right now, which is why this worship series is so needed and beautiful. But play as many live versions of worship songs as you can. Blast them. Watch the Youtube live versions. We so desperately need to hear and see others worship alongside us for the good of our hearts.
The funny part is I don’t remember the first time I heard Goodness of God. I really can’t point to when it came into my life, which makes it stand out even more to me. But this is the song that finally broke the camel’s back. Starting around January/February, I began realizing that I wasn’t in a desert anymore. I think a lot of this had to do with the Chase as well. Through living in community with you, the Lord had brought me back to Him in a way I wasn’t sure I was ever going to get to experience again. When I finally let myself sit with this song, I realized my heart had broken for Him in a million pieces all over again, pieces that I was keeping for myself out of pain, but that He was so faithfully and consistently taking back for Himself, because that’s all He wants. Our hearts. And I worshipped. I mean the “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” kind of worship. The kind where you know you are joining in with Heaven.
The Lyrics. I love that she starts out with “I love you Lord.” It’s this comfort that no matter what’s going on or what I’ve done, I still get to sing these words to Him. This is where our relationship starts. And then we go into what the Lord has done for us, and what we do for Him because of that. “Oh, Your mercy never fails me. All my days I’ve been held in Your hands. From the moment that I wake up until I lay my head I will sing of the goodness of God.” This connection between mercy and holding us in His hands always strikes me. I think of mercy in terms of sin. And where is God and where am I when I sin? In my mind, I’m casted away. But here, I’m in His hands. I also think of mercy in terms of mercy from this world and all the brokenness of it. Yes, we have experienced outrageous amounts of brokenness even in the first few decades of our lives, but the emphasis here is on how He has carried us through to the other side of every single pain and loss. And He knows it. He is very aware of and familiar with our pain and in our pain. He’s been through it with us.
A variation of these words is repeated in the Chorus. “All my life you have been faithful. All my life You have been so, so good. With every breath that I am able. I will sing of the goodness of God.” All my days… all my life. So much has happened. For me and for you. Not only the good days, not only in certain seasons. In the valleys and on the mountain, You have been faithful God. I haven’t. But You have. And that’s why I get to still cry out to You now.
I love every reference in every song to Heaven. It’s hard to catch here, but we’re singing about Heaven. From the moment that I wake up until I lay my head… with every breath that I am able. I want to have a faith that lasts each day and through all my days until I lay my head. There’s a lot that’s not guaranteed, but I can worship with every breath that I am able until Heaven. Singing about that now comforts me so much. It’s coming, and I know that, but I don’t want to think about it. When I sing to Him about one day being able to reflect back on all our years together, I can’t help but smile.
Which brings me to verse 2. “I love Your voice. You have led me through the fire. In darkest nights, you are close like no other. I’ve known You as a father. I’ve known You as a friend. I have lived in the goodness of God.” This is what it looks like to go from having heard about Jesus to truly knowing who He is. And we get this through fire and darkness. This is why it’s become so hard for me to see suffering in a negative light. Although not what God would not, He has always used it for our connection. God is both Father and Friend. One of the profound mysteries of the world. We can tend to move in our lives from knowing God as a Father, someone who protects us, guides us, and walks ahead of us, to knowing Him as a Friend as well, someone who walks alongside us. We get this when we never give up going through hard seasons WITH Him. No matter what. “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” – Jesus.
Now the repeat. I know Sarah talked about this with Way Maker, but repetition is so good for us. So so so good for us. We build up these walls throughout the day around our hearts to protect ourselves. Someone said or did something that hurt us? That’s a brick. Unmet expectations? That’s another brick. Global pandemic? That’s like a thousand bricks. Those walls don’t just come down when we sing “Your goodness is running after me.” We have to sing it again and again and again as God takes down our walls we’ve built up, brick by brick. Until we are heart to heart with Him, truly able to see Him for who He is, and able to “lay our lives down, surrendered now, and give Him everything.” Bricks and all.