When you know God has forgiven you, but you don't feel forgiveness for yourself, these songs will encourage you
“Wait! Christmas songs in February? Did I read that right?”
Yes. Yes, you did. :)
Though I've put away the Christmas tree and Christmas movies, I must admit to sneaking in a few Christmas CDs after New Year's. I don't normally do this, but this year, I felt the need to extend those reminders of hope. Especially in light of my recent mess-ups. Okay, I won't sugarcoat the terms: my sins.
I've mentioned about my tradition the past few years of focusing on a word that the Holy Spirit seems to have chosen for me to ruminate on, my Word of the Year. Well, this Christmas season, the songs seemed to continually repeat the word “Light” to me.
Light to illuminate darkness around me. Light to expose the darkness inside of me.
One of my other words for the entire year of 2019 is Freedom. I'm not saying that the darkness inside of me means evil or unbelief. It means that I still have that old nature of sin within me (Romans 7). I am no longer a slave to it (Romans 5). But I still war with it, still battle my old nature.
For example, I messed up royally yesterday.
I know we like to only show the good side of our spiritual lives, especially in our social-media-saturated lives. But if we're going to be honest and relate to the struggles of our friends, we need to share our failures as well as our successes. (Not that we should complain and focus more on our disappointments, frustrations, and critical opinions; but we shouldn't be afraid to acknowledge our weaknesses, our brokenness, our mistakes, and our sins.)
I yelled. I accused. I sulked. I know better. But I was tired and frustrated already. And I took it out on the ones I love most.
I confessed silently to the Lord. After a few hours of ignoring the problem, I asked for forgiveness from my husband and children.
That was it. I was done. It was all good.
Except that it wasn't. I kept remembering in shame. I kept wondering if the Lord was still disappointed in me.
Has this happened to you? You've gone through the entire process of forgiveness. It ought to be over. But your feelings say differently.
Prayerfully, I turned to my spiritual songs (Ephesians 5: ), and the Holy Spirit used these five songs to remind me that my feelings aren't the boss of me. I can take them to the truth of the Word. But sometimes I don't know where to read.
These five songs can help you as they helped encourage me to move forward, learning my lesson from my sin, but not wallowing in it:
1. “Breath of Heaven” by Amy Grant
“Help me be strong. Help me be... Help me.” This line always makes me tear up now. I just want to be strong for my kids, for anyone who's watching, against my weaknesses, against those besetting sins. But I eventually fall. And this becomes my plea. Sometimes I don't think He can help me be strong. I think, “Just help me in any way You can, Lord.”
But that's a little self-indulgent and actually arrogant, if you think about it. If I think there's something that even God can't fix about me, then I've just put God in a box and said that my tendency is too strong for Him. What arrogance!
I'll change my plea to, “Just help me in whatever way You know is best, Lord, even if I can't see it.”
I know the song is specifically talking about Mary and her mission to carry the Messiah in her womb. But in a broader sense, this is how all of us followers of Christ feel when we feel inadequate for the calling we individually feel from the Lord.
“You've chosen me now... I am waiting with a silent prayer, I am frightened by the load I bear in a world as cold as stone. Must I walk this path alone? Be with me now, be with me now!” And He is. He is Emmanuel, God with us!
“Do You wonder as You watch my face, if a wiser one should have had my place? But I offer all I am for the mercy of Your plan. Help me be strong... Help me be... Help me!”
2. “Shoulders” by King & Country
No, this isn't a Christmas song at all. But I found a Christmas concert given by King & Country, and it included a few of their biggest hits, including this song and the next.
You can watch their hour-long Christmas concert here:
“...Your forgiveness is my fortress, Your mercy is relentless!”. This is my favorite line of the song. I'm so thankful that His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23)!
Luke 15:45 (ESV): “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.”
Colossians 3:13 (ESV): “...bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
3. “It's Not Over Yet” by King & Country
“They are inside your head. You've got a voice that says, 'You won't get past this one. You won't win your freedom.' It's like a constant war, and you want to settle that score. But you're bruised and beaten, and you feel defeated... Oh, to everyone who's hit their limit, it's not over yet, it's not over yet!”
This song was written as motivation to endure through trials, as they explain in this video interview. The two lead singers of King & Country, Joel & Luke Smallborn, wrote this for their youngest sister, who is battling a chronic illness (chronic Lyme Disease).
However, it can motivate believers in many different kinds of circumstances.
Trials like sickness, job loss, death of loved one
Temptations to sin
Guilt from past sins
Weariness from the constant battle with sin
The point is: It's Not Over Yet! God is still working on us and in us and through us. He is still writing our story, and we are still a testimony to His miraculous and merciful work.
Even in my falling, it's not the end. Jesus is my Redeemer, and He can still forgive me and redeem the situation, making me more and more into His image (“conformed to the image of his Son,” Romans 8:29).
4. “All is Well” by Point of Grace
“Angels and men rejoice, for tonight darkness fell into the dawn of love's light. Sing Alleluia! … Born is our Emmanuel! Born is our Lord and Savior! Sing Alleluia! All is well!”
Because of Jesus' birth and then death on the Cross, He has paid for our forgiveness. And He will go with us through every part of our lives. He is Emmanuel, “God with us”! So, even after I fall into sin, once I confess and ask for forgiveness, then “All is Well” again.
5. “Let There Be Light” by Point of Grace (featuring John David Webster)
“From the beginning, the Father had a magnificent plan, revealed through the law and the prophets, to fulfill the redemption of man. You spoke after centuries of silence in the midst of a still, starry night. And Emmanuel came down among us. And the Father said, 'Let there be light!' Let there be light, let it shine bright, piercing the darkness with dazzling white. Hope for the hopeless was born on that night, when God sent His Son and said, 'Let there be light!' … And the sky full of angels announcing the birth of a glorious light.”
Because “Emmanuel came down among us,” we have the true Light (John 1:4, 9-14, 8:12)! And now Jesus has called us to be the light of the world as reflections of His light (Matthew 5:14-16). We do this by showing unbelievers our “good deeds.”
acts of kindness (deeds)
with hearts of compassion (motives)
Conclusion: Everyone sins. Everyone, even believers will mess up. I will. You will. It's what we do afterwards that matters. Will you confess your sins and repent, turning away from that disobedience and towards God again? Will you use that failure as motivation and empathy to help others avoid that trap? Let's help each other grow closer and closer to the Lord, becoming more and more like Him, reflecting His light more and more to this world!
What is one way you can be the light of the world today?