Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Jars of Clay part 2

So where I left off in the previous post, I was in 2003, in a period of grief and doubt and thankful that Jars of Clay provided a musical background for this season.

Their next album was Who We Are Instead. I think I've recently decided that this is my all-time favorite album of theirs. As I started to come out of the gloom of 2003 and see the way that God was redeeming my pain and my doubts, Jars of Clay provided the soundtrack for this as well. The opening stanza of the 1st song, "Sunny Days," is a prime example:

"Sunny days, keepin' the clouds away

I think we’re coming to a clearing and a brighter day
So far away and still I think they say,

The wait will make the heart grow stronger

or fonder, I can’t quite remember, anyway"

The entire song, "Faith Enough," is full of absolutely beautiful lyrics, including this part,

"Confused enough to know direction

Sun eclipsed enough to shine

Be still enough to finally tremble

See enough to know i'm blind,"

and this sweet line in the chorus:

"It's just enough to be strong in the broken places."

I could see already how God was using my brokenness from the previous months to strengthen me in a really beautiful way that only He could accomplish. The song, "I'm In the Way," was a sweet declaration that Christ wasn't letting me go. Had it been up to me in November of 2003, I would have abandoned my faith entirely. But it was clearly NOT up to me, I'd been redeemed, I'd been bought. Christ was in the way of my falling down. Another song on the album simply repeats the line, "Jesus' blood hasn't failed me yet," over and over. Sound boring? Listen to it, it's anything but.

My favorite song on the album, Jealous Kind, talks about when we choose sin over the selfless love of Christ, and how Christ has a jealous love for us when we start to run after things that cannot satisfy. The whole song is incredible; here's an example:

"Tryin' to jump away from rock that keeps on spreading

Solace in the shift of the sinking sand

I'd rather feel the pain all too familiar

Than be broken by a lover I don't understand."

Ok, enough about that album. I almost forgot about Furthermore. This album was mostly live and studio versions of previously released songs, but "The Valley Song," a new one, was incredible. Can't even pick my favorite part of it, but this one's a competitor:

"When death, like a gypsy, comes to steal what I love

I will still look to the heavens, I will still seek Your face

But I fear You aren't listening, because there are no words

Just a stillness and a hunger for a faith that assures"

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Ok so unfortunately, this is now part 2 of 3...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Jars of Clay - Part 1

Jars of Clay released their latest album a couple weeks ago,which got me feeling all reminiscent about life (it doesn't take much) as I thought back on my history with Jars of Clay. They've been my favorite band since junior high, and they still hold that title even if I'm not 100% impressed with them all the time anymore. Just about all their albums hold special signifiance for me, and I'm always looking for excuses to share my favorite lyrics w/people. So this post may take awhile and come in more than 1 part, but I want to reflect on each of their albums and maybe some lyrics from each. If no one reads this, I don't mind - it's fun for me anyway...

Much Afraid - the first JOC cd I owned, and one of the first cds i owned, period. This is my favorite album to play on the piano these days, too. One of my favorite stanzas, from "Hymn:"

"Oh gaze of love so melt my pride, that I may in Your house but kneel
And in my brokenness to cry, spring worship unto Thee."

Jars of Clay - their self-titled album came out before I was on the scene. My sister had it and eventually gave it to me because I loved it so much. "Worlds Apart" probably contains some of the best lyrics ever written, like the following,

"I look beyond the empty cross Forgetting what my life has cost
And wipe away the crimson stains And dull the nails that still remain
More and more I need you now, I owe you more each passing hour
The battle between grace and pride I gave up not so long ago,"

but their "Love Song for a Savior" became sort of my theme song for a long time and still may hold the title of one of my favorite songs of all time (sorry for all the superlatives). The line, "Someday he'll call her and she will come running" often made me cry when I thought of my friend Katherine who suffered a traumatic brain injury as a teenager and would never again run in this life. This song was one of the theme songs of the Chrysalis retreat I went on in high school that made the gospel come alive in my heart and life. And, corny as this sounds in comparison, my high school boyfriend had the dj at a church dance play this song when he asked me to dance and to be his girlfriend. ha, the memories...

I really liked If I Left the Zoo but nothing stands out as life-changing with that one...

Enter The Eleventh Hour. When this album first came out, I enjoyed it but it wasn't my favorite. But when my grandparents died the following year and I questioned God in a way I never had before in the weeks and months that followed, this album was sweet medicine to my soul. I saw their concert during the week when my grandma had died, and my grandpa was on his death bed. They spoke about how being a believer is not always a happy, carefree existence - that life is hard and questions are real. This part of "Something Beautiful" still brings tears to my eyes as I reflect on how desperately I wanted to feel God's presence in a real way during that time:

What I get from my reflection isn't what I thought I'd see.
Give me reason to believe you'd never keep me incomplete.
Will you untie this loss of mine, it easily defines me.
Do you see it on my face. That all I can think about is
how long I've been waiting to feel you move me.

I think this is long enough for 1 blog. We'll leave it as part 1 of hopefully 2.