(check the links below to listen while you read)
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I’ve never thought I’ve had much of a testimony. While this is a result of a life full of God’s faithfulness and being overwhelmingly blessed, I am strangely jealous of those who have a really powerful testimony. Even though they often include trials and suffering. I consider this the Christian equivalent of a first world problem. That being said, here is my testimony.
For about a year when I was at bible college I really struggled to feel or engage in the presence of God. Then God, through a friend of mine, gave me Joshua 1:9 and I found peace. That is the sparks note version of course and I’ll go deeper as I work through this great song “Here Again.”
“I can’t go back to the beginning,
Can’t control what tomorrow may bring,
But I know here in the middle,
Is the place where You promise to be”
“As I walk now through the valley
Let Your love rise above every fear
Like the sun shaping the shadow
In my weakness your glory appears”
This verse focuses us on what is important. We can’t change the past and have no control of tomorrow. But God promises to meet us where we are at, right in the middle. Personally, “the middle” speaks to me as both being in the moment, but also a metaphorical place that requires me to move towards God, and God will meet me in the middle. The moment God gave me Joshua 1:9 I was in the middle of this heavy discouragement and emptiness. The discouragement led to an eventual point where I didn’t feel like trying anymore. Until a Wednesday night chapel, where I once again found myself surrounded by a gathering of people all experiencing the presence of God. Still feeling empty and discouraged I got on my knees and asked God for anything– anything that could get me out of this emptiness and point me back to pursuing his presence. Seconds later my friend taps me on the shoulder and reads “do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go!” I strongly believe I had to physically get on my knees and meet God in the middle that night. But I also had to let go of all my lingering frustrations, stop thinking about how it would never end and just be in the middle of it all.
“I’m not enough, unless You come
Will You meet me here again.”
This song has us singing “I’m not enough.” This can speak to everyone different depending on their circumstances, but by singing these words we are all humbling ourselves before the Lord. When I sing these words I think about how I’m not enough to stay full of the Joy and peace that I feel when I’m walking side by side with God. This was magnified a hundredfold when I was at my lowest that year at bible college. But even now as I write this life is busy, like really busy, and I can feel the peace of God is lacking. I acknowledge that I just haven’t made time for God. And, while other times in my life have been just as busy, I’ve managed better to keep up my intentional time to pursue God and the business becomes trivial, nothing to be concerned by. But when I don’t leave space for God, I see how I’m not enough. I become less reliable because everything becomes overwhelming, which can be debilitating. And even though I usually enjoy all the things that are making me so busy I find less joy in it all. It becomes a burden.
“‘Cause all I want, is all You are
Will You meet me here again”
And so I find that all I want is all He is. Or perhaps if I’m being honest, all I should want is all He is. I have to acknowledge all the desires of this world that are getting in the way. I don’t see a way that this flawed person will ever fully overcome the distractions and say with 100% conviction “All I want is all You are.” I’m just being real. Maybe you might find comfort in that honesty. I’m confident I’m not the only one who has this struggle. In fact, I’m sure this is everyone’s experience! So when I sing “All I want is all You are” the lyric should be pointing me in the direction of that 100% conviction. I’ve already acknowledge my struggles in the verses, I’ve humbled myself (“I’m not enough”) and now I’m recognizing what I need, which is “All He is!”
The bridge brings the climax to this song. It does this musically and lyrically. After a very slow build of rising action, creating a couple minutes of reflection and recognition of where you are in that moment, the song ramps up. The electric riff comes to the foreground, the drums begin to build, and it all drops into this lyric of hope and grace!
“Not for a minute was I forsaken
The Lord is in this place, the Lord is in this place
Come Holy Spirit, dry bones awaken
The Lord is in this place, the Lord is in this place”
I don’t know what it is you are going through. When you listen to this song, I encourage you to reflect inwards as you listen, finding what it is you are not enough in and then humble yourself before God. And then when it comes to this bridge I hope you can let it all go! God can meet you right where you are as you are reading this. Back in college I had this wall around my heart that was not allowing me to do this. But I had a breakthrough when I realized I was the one who put it there. Not for a moment was a I forsaken! May this lyric bring you comfort! It all comes back to the words in Joshua 1:9. It says “Have I not commanded you,” as if to say “how many times must I tell you!” And then “The Lord will be with you wherever you go.” This verse was given to me, to tell me not to be discouraged. I knew he was with me regardless and the discouragement hindering my desire to move closer to God disappeared. I was able to work towards his presence and have been ever since: even in the times where I am not feeling it. For you, maybe, it is fear in your life hindering you. What I love about this song and this scripture is it doesn’t suggest you have to be on the other side of the valley. But you can be strong and courageous, have no fear, and not be discouraged because God is in the middle of it!