When I read this blog recently titled “Stop Singing Oceans”, I honestly was bothered a bit by it. While I understand what the author (who clearly loves Jesus) intended to say by indicating we sing songs in worship that we don’t fully act upon, I must say that I have to disagree largely with her thoughts overall.
This blog is not a rebuttal necessarily, but merely a composed testimony of my experiences with worship songs. I wasn’t raised going to church, therefore I am coming at this from both sides of being unchurched and being a church attending gal ;-) .
When I truly met and encountered Jesus, I was wild for Him. In my wildness, I wasn’t mature and said and did things that reflected I was definitely a baby Christian. When I began my walk with the Lord, I didn’t know anything other than that I was so in love with Him. I would attend every possible church service that I could and I absolutely LOVED worship nights! I didn’t know that I could/couldn’t should/shouldn’t do this or that. And I certainly didn’t filter my songs to Him. I sang about surrendering my life when I was selfish and not very surrendered. I sang about only loving Him when really I had many other “loves”. My heart was in the right place though and I kept singing.
I still remember the first time I heard the song, “You Said”, while watching a mission’s video of Haiti at the church I got saved at. The lyrics gripped my heart as Rita Springer’s version of this song filled the footage of many broken lives in Haiti.
I cried and that was the first moment I felt called to the nations as a missionary
I became obsessed with the song and constantly sang with tears in my eyes, “You said “Ask and I’ll give the nations to you…” Oh Lord, that’s the cry of my heart…distant shores and the islands will see Your light…Oh Lord I ask for the nations”.
The truth is I had NO idea what I was praying or singing out literally, but I felt it so deep within my spirit. I didn’t know that in fact my first full-time missions assignment would be to live on the distant island of Madagascar some 12 years later.
Fast forward to 2007 when I wrote these lyrics on my mirror (in hot pink lipstick of course) “Heal my heart and make it clean. Open up my eyes to the things unseen. Show me how to love like you have loved me. Break my heart for what breaks yours. Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause. As I walk from earth into eternity”. These lyrics are from a song called, “Hosanna”, by Hillsong.
I felt those lyrics so passionately in my spirit as I sang them out, but again how could I know the fullness of what I was praying? I’d cry as I prayed and meditated on those lyrics because the truth was, I wanted a healed heart that could understand His heart. I didn’t want to be hardened by the world around me and not be moved in compassion and love for others. I did not know what singing those lyrics would produce in me. When you sing words like that, you can expect opportunity to grow and mature.
Those words ended up launching me into a season of discovering the love of God like never before.
When Stephen and I were getting married, our church wedding coordinator was against us having live worship music for some reason. It was a battle I fought for because we wanted to set the tone of worship for our marriage. We weren’t merely pledging our love to one another, but we were doing so in commitment to the God we love and serve and we wanted to sing about it.
The opening song we sang was by John Thurlow and we sang, “The love that You (Father) have for Jesus. Put it inside of me. Burn it on my heart like a seal, like a seal. That in the famines of Your presence or in the floods of persecution, or in the comfort of the culture, it’s still real…I just want a heart that is fully in love.”
When I had first heard that song, I wrote the lyrics down and knew I wanted to sing it on my wedding day. Stephen and I chose to declare in front of God and all of the witnesses celebrating us that we would stand for Jesus no matter what comforts or what trials we would walk through in our marriage. We had said, “Yes” to Him as singles and we now committing to saying, “Yes” to Him as a married couple.
Little did we know the events that would follow just days after when I got incredibly ill on our honeymoon and then we got into a serious car wreck shortly thereafter. We didn’t know that our “yes” would be tested and tried and that we would spend the majority of our first two years of marriage in doctor’s offices and walking out many physically trying situations.
However even in the darkest and most trying times, our hearts still sing, “I just want a heart that is fully in love”. That song has comforted me more today than when I sung it on the happiest day of my life.
THEN came the time that I first heard the song, “Oceans” by Hillsong at a supporting church of ours that my husband was speaking at. I almost didn’t show up to the services that morning because I was so weak physically. The anointed worship leader and his wife sang this song out with the rest of the band and I let out an ugly cry (kind of like I did the night I met Stephen when he preached about missions ;-)). My spirit came alive and I was infused with this glorious empowerment in my spirit that revived my faith. I knew God was calling me out of comfort. I knew I couldn’t control what was happening to my physical body or anything else in my life, but I could trust in Him. I knew I was being asked to surrender it all. I sang out loudly and boldly. Second service came around and more ugly cries came forth. This song carried me in the following months of our move to Madagascar and it stands as a reminder to many to pray for us whenever they hear that song.
As challenges in life have come, I’ve stood on these lyrics I’ve mentioned above. I believe that God has met me in my places of singing to Him. I believe some lyrics open my heart to cry out to Him and depend on Him to grow and perfect my faith as I seek Him.
I realize that any worship song could be just “lip service” to God and that some people sing “Oceans” and don’t mean a lyric of it.
But what if one person means it? What if one person receives a call into missions because they sing it? What if one person gets freed from an addiction because of it? What if one couple decide to hold onto the covenant they made with one another because of hearing it? What if a brother or sister in Christ sings this to steady their faith in the midst of persecution? Is it worth singing it then??
Worship leaders, I’ll address you and say to you—PLEASE keep singing “Oceans”. You may have a redheaded girl who just needs to remember He’s never failed her and won’t now.
To the worshippers out there, I say to you– sing “Oceans” LOUDLY even if it’s off key ;-)
Maybe the problem is that you aren’t signing it enough! Maybe you just need to sing it more until it becomes so redundant in your head that it finally becomes a conscious thought. As you sing, realize God will honor your words and He will nudge you to step outside of the borders that you’ve erected for your faith. The song says, “there I find You in the mystery in oceans deep, my faith will stand.” You might just be surprised at where you’ll find Him in your everyday life and let’s be honest–everyone’s faith needs to be encouraged. EVERYONE certainly needs to know “I am Yours and You are mine”.
God NEVER says “Stop singing” anywhere in His word.
He loves for us to be free to worship Him and to live lives that reflect His glory and not our man-made statues and limitations. He doesn’t want us to be intimidated by singing songs because somehow we think that we’ll never be able to live extraordinary lives for Him.
If I had not prayed challenging prayers, I wouldn’t have grown in my faith. If I had not dreamed dreams that only God have placed within me, I would be living confined in my own comfort and plans. I certainly wouldn’t be a missionary or writing this blog.
There you have it…My opinion on singing bold and crazy lyrics. Lyrics that our minds may never fully comprehend, but ones that speak life to our spirits and dare us to move beyond our natural lives and into the supernatural ones that depend on a BIG God.
Oh and if you’ve never heard the song “Oceans”, do yourself a favor. Give it a listen.