So I (Joel) am finally finishing this series of blog posts. This is the fourth and final song. If you have been following the last few posts from our blog, you know that I am writing a series of blog posts about the songs that I sing to Jonah at bedtime. I have been writing about how the lyrics are revealing more truth in the words than I have ever understood before when singing these songs over the years. If you haven’t read the first three posts of this series, I encourage you to go back and read them in order as I think that reading them in order would bring the most clarity and meaning.
This final song is by far the most profound song that I sing to my son. It has impacted me most deeply and there are even times that I choose not to sing it as the words can cut so deep into the hurt and pain of our story that it can be too much to bare. It is again a song from Andrew Peterson, which you know by now is my favorite artist. Andrew Peterson has a way with lyrics that tell the most beautifully raw and intimate stories. In fact, his latest album – Light for the Lost Boy – speaks so perfectly of my story start to finish that it rips me apart when I listen to the whole album in order, which is something I don’t do often. We went to his Light for the Lost Boy concert right about the time when things really fell apart and I sat in the church pew and wept the whole concert. Never has a concert laid me as bare as that one did. However, this blog is not about that concert or that album. This is about his song entitled – Just as I Am. The first couple of lines of verse one starts like this:
What’s that on the ground? It’s what’s left of my heart. Somebody named Jesus broke it to pieces and planted the shards.
This line in the song had always confused me till now. I wondered why Peterson would write that Jesus breaks our hearts. It always seemed truthful, but I just didn’t really understand. Now I do… You see our hearts can be so lost, so messy, so not what they are supposed to be that Jesus allows for the tragedy to fracture our hearts. You see he has to sometimes start over – sometimes breaking the very thing that he is here to restore. If that doesn’t seem to make sense to you then I will just point you to the cross. Jesus came to give life, but his very life had to be broken to restore it. This is a very hard truth – Jesus at times will allow your heart to break and in some extreme cases will do the breaking. You see, he is making all things new. Our hearts have been severely damaged and wounded by this life. Jesus breaks our hearts wide open not to destroy them or to purposely hurt us but so that they can be remade.
Only here is the thing. The pieces don’t necessarily get put back together. Why, you ask? That is a great question. Here is what I have learned so far: when Jesus fills our hearts with his love and grace – our broken hearts can’t hold it in so that love and grace spills out of the cracks which flows into other broken hearts only to be spilled again and again. I know that my broken heart has much more of a capacity to love and for grace. It is really unbelievable. It is a truth that has been such a comfort to me.
The other part is spoken about in the lyrics. Jesus plants the shards; he places the broken bits of our heart into fertile ground. You see he is making all things new. There is purpose to your pain – purpose to your brokenness. Something new is coming. Here is the rest of the first verse.
And they’re coming up green and they’re coming in bloom. I can hardly believe this is all coming true.
Yes new life is coming from the broken pieces. This new life is not for the one with the broken heart – at least not only for them. This green, these blooms are growing for others. This is something that I have seen over and over again. God is bringing life out of our pain. God is using the hurt to change others. I know that I can hardly believe it. It truly seems not possible. But we are talking about God here, Creator of the universe. I know that anything is possible with God. And the truth is what we have gained through this eases the hurt of what has been lost. Now the chorus:
Just as I am, just as I was, just as I will be he loves me he does. Showed me the day that he shed his own blood. He loves me oh, he loves me he does.
Do you hear the truth? So many times we feel that our brokenness and pain, that our wounds, that are messiness – prevents God from loving us. But that is just NOT TRUE. He is not waiting for your life to matter, waiting for you to do something, waiting for you to get your act together to love you. No, no, no. He loves you just as you are, just as you were, and just as you will be, PERIOD. He proved his love for us by dying on a cross when we didn’t have it all together. When we were broken and used up. Jesus sees what he intended for you to be not what you are. That is why he can love you. When he looks at you – he sees the true you, not the false you that has been constructed from years of sin, death, decay, wounds, losses, troubles, etc. It is like a master sculptor looking at the block of marble. Everyone else just sees the block of marble, but he/she sees the finished masterpiece. To him/her it is not a block of marble at all, but the perfect form that has always existed beneath the layers of waste rock. To free you, to get to the masterpiece, to excavate to the finished beauty underneath – brokenness and pain are necessary. Here is the second verse:
All of my life, I’ve held on to this fear. These thistles and vines ensnare and entwine what flowers appeared. It’s the fear that I’ll fall one too many times. It’s the fear that his love is no better than mine.
This happens in everyone’s story of brokenness and pain. There is fear, fear that his love is not true. That this love is not to be trusted. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. The weeds come to steal the nutrients to our flowers, they come to choke us out – to take away the life we are being given. Those impostors don’t want you to believe that his love is true and can be trusted. They speak lies that instill fear that we have fallen too much to be loved. That Jesus’s love couldn’t possibly be better than anyone else’s love. Couldn’t be better than the love we have received from others much of which has hurt us, neglected us, abandoned us, rejected us, abused us, etc. Jesus’s love is just too good to be true sometimes. We feel this fear the most when we are at our darkest hour. But the night is coldest and the darkest right before the dawn. You see Jesus comes to us – offering us life. The enemy offers death – but Jesus offers redemption and restoration. He offers us, not merely survival, but purpose and meaning. He gives us the gift of mattering. That our life matters to someone else. That we are worthy of someone’s love and affection. We must choose to believe in life, not death. Early in our trials, Anna and I had to really decide if all of the things we had claimed to be true in the triumph are still just as true in defeat. If the promises of God only were true on the mountaintop and not in the depths of the valley. We had to decide if we truly believed in these promises. Were we going to continue to follow him or turn back? Was God who he says he is? Does he truly love us completely just as we are? – Jesus offers life. Jesus is the real deal – his love is true. He loves us just as we are. Here is the third verse:
It is time now to harvest what little that grew. The man they call Jesus has come for the fruit. But the best that I’ll got isn’t nearly enough, but he is glad for the crop but it is me that he wants.
You see the truth is that our purpose isn’t that big in the scheme of things. The fruit we bare is minimal. This can make us feel that Jesus’s love is proportional to the fruit we bare. It is just not true. God’s love abounds! His love is not based on the fruit. The fruit is not the point. Our hearts are. The purpose for all of it is that our hearts belong to him and him alone. The fruit is not what he is after, the fruit is just the outward revelation of the inward changes being made. God wants your heart, your whole heart. If he has to break it to get access to it, to do some healing, to draw you closer to him, to bring you into his work, to fill it with his love and grace – then he will do that. Don’t worry though. It is ok. It will be ok. He is trustworthy. He is making all things new. He is giving you love and life.
Just as I am, just as I was, just as I will be he loves me he does. Loves me he does, loves me he does.
Here is Andrew sing the song if you want to have a listen.