I thought I’d share with you a couple “Praise & Worship”-type songs that our Praise Band back home often plays during Lent. Incidentally, both of them were written by worship leader Stuart Townend, and if you’re a bit annoyed at the presence of contemporary Praise & Worship songs here, hear me out; Townend has been noted for the strength and depth of his lyrics [Crosswalk.com via Wikipedia], and his melodies are fantastic.
The one I’ll share today is “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” (co-written with Keith Getty), as performed by Christian vocal group Phillips, Craig and Dean:
The lyrics to this song are quite powerful, as they draw each of us into the crucifixion story in a vivid way. We’re reminded that Christ didn’t just die to save humanity from our collective sins; he died to save each of us from our own sins. It’s easy to think of the ways in which I have fallen and continue to fall short of living like Jesus, but it’s a sobering thought that these were part of what nailed him to the cross. And the ways in which I fall short are a result of the decisions I make each day.
This is a big concept, but I like to look at it on a smaller scale. Some of you might be familiar with the Christian writer Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years), and his work has been a constant source of encouragement and inspiration to me. Specifically, he encourages each of us to see our lives as a story, using the basic elements of story: a character who wants something and overcomes conflict in order to get it. In these stories, the “something” that we want isn’t so much a car or smartphone as it is a fulfilling role/career/responsibility, a way of serving God using the gifts we’ve each been given, with a climactic scene we can visualize for motivation. Miller notes that by creating these goals for ourselves and expecting to run into conflict, we can produce a “decision filter” for ourselves that helps us focus on the here and now and what it is we need to be working on.
Lent gives us a chance to work on our decision filters: the decision filter that guides us to our goals, and the decision filter that guides us in our desire to be more like Christ. Certainly, I would echo much of what Katie wrote in yesterday’s post, since I might have ideas for things to make and do – or a constant slate of assignments and tests – but I always seem to end up browsing Wikipedia. We won’t be able to fix all our faults in Lent (or on Earth, for that matter), but as we’re reminded in the last verse of the song, the battle has been won for us already:
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
–Jonathan Van Dusen