It never ceases to amaze me how powerfully music can stir the emotions, from the saddest mournful tune causing heartbreak and melancholy, to the brightest melody which lifts the spirits and propels you with an uncontrollable urge to dance (well, almost!!).
There are some songs in which the very soul of the writer appears to have been poured into its creation and these, in my opinion, are the ones that can touch your own soul like no other.
Every so often I hear a piece of music which completely captivates me. Even as a child I would buy a favourite vinyl record and listen to it over and over again. There was a special lever on the record player (yes, I really am that old!!) which would cause the arm to automatically return to the beginning of the record and so I could play the song on a continual loop.
I have discovered a song recently which has captivated me in this way. It is a song called “Oh how He loves us” by John Mark McMillan. It can be a very powerful thing when you combine the truths of God’s word with song, especially when singing about how much God loves us. It seems His spirit delights to stir our emotions towards Him. I guess that is the essence of worship and the true reason God created music.
This song has a great tune and some beautifully poetic and original lyrics which have fascinated me. Having said that I didn’t always catch all the words (and do they really sing about “heaven meets earth with a ‘sloppy wet kiss’?”). I therefore made a search for the lyrics and here they are below:
He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I Realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.
And oh, how He loves us so, Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all
Yeah, He loves us, Whoa! how He loves us…..(etc)
We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
So Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…
He loves us (etc)
Well, I thought about You the day Steven died,
And You met me between my breaking.
I know that I still love You, God, despite the agony.
Cause people…they want to tell me You’re cruel,
But if Stephen could sing, he’d say it’s not true, cause You’re good.
Ok, now I’m intrigued. I’ve heard a couple of versions of this song but I have never heard the 3rd verse. “Who is Steven?” I wondered, and “what happened to him?”
The more I read and discovered, the more I was struck by the aforementioned reality that powerful songs can be written through real tragedy and personal soul searching, the thoughts and emotions of the writer being laid bare for all to see, questioning himself with such things as does he still believe in God when tragedy strikes.
Here is John Mark McMillan in his own words during an interview:
Several years ago my best friend (Steven) was killed in a car accident. I learned about it while I was in Jacksonville, Florida, working in the studio. I was pretty devastated as you can imagine. I woke up the next day and wrote that song. I had a couple lines of the song before he died but I felt like the song was supposed to be for him so I sat down that morning and finished it.
The song is basically about dealing with the anger of his death and how I was pretty tempted to believe that God didn’t love us but that even in this death I can see that God does. I guess my question was if God loved him then why did he die, and the answer, I believed, was that he died because God loved him and wanted to be with him. It’s a difficult conclusion to come to and I’m not sure most people who sing the song completely understand where I was coming from when I wrote it, but I’m glad it’s touching people.
In fact I receive messages pretty regularly from kids who have battled with depression and suicide who tell me that the song actually turned them around and saved their lives. So I would never complain, and after all, I think a song can have more than one meaning.
My friend was actually in a prayer meeting the morning before he died and told the Lord that if his death would shake people up then he would give his life. I don’t entirely understand the implications of this prayer, but I do believe that the effect this song has had on people is part of a promise that the Lord made when He took my friend’s life.
There are kids who are alive now because they heard that song and that’s the only explanation I have for it. Just the facts. I don’t understand how all that works theologically. I just know that’s the way it is.
My favourite version of this song is by the David Crowder band and I have put the Youtube video below. They miss out ‘The sloppy wet kiss’ and the third verse; I guess that is personal to the writer himself.
The video itself fascinates me, starting with David’s quirky face and the various clever video techniques. Anyway, see what you think, but above all else don’t forget:
HE LOVES US!!