Thoughts on the Song, “Rise” by Josh Garrels

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I hung my head, for the last time
In surrender and despair
Before I’m dead, I’ll take the last climb
Up the mountain, face my fears
The time has come, to make a choice
Use my voice for the love of every man
My minds made up, never again
Never again, will I turn round

Though they may surround me like lions
And crush me on all sides
I may fall, but I will rise
Not by my might, or my power, or by the strength of swords
Only through, your love, my lord
All we’ve lost, will be, restored

Take courage sons, for we must go under
The heart of darkness, and set them free
But don’t lose heart when you see the numbers
There’s no measure for, the faith we bring
It’s given us, to overcome
If we run, where the spirit calls us on
The greatest things, have yet to come
With the dawn, we will rise

Though they may surround us like lions
And crush us on all sides
we may fall, but we will rise
Not by my might, or my power, or by the strength of swords
Only through, your love, my lord
All we’ve lost, will be, restored

–“Rise by Josh Garrels from his album Love and War and the Sea in Between

 

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us – Hebrews 12:1

Pray, then, in this way: Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven – Matthew 6:9-10

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  – Ephesian 6:12

 

One morning, while driving to school through beautiful mountain canyons, my daughter and I listened to “Rise” by Josh Garrels. We discussed it, listened to it again, and discussed it some more. Josh Garrels is able to pack so much into this simple poetry! The Lord speaks to my heart every time I hear it. I will attempt to unpack a little bit of what these words stir in me.

First, sin is such a distraction. The more I understand the unfathomable depth of God’s love shown in the grace of the cross, the more I understand that God is not primarily concerned about sin. What I mean is this. Yes God hates sin. Yes sin preys upon the innocent and ends in death and destruction. God hates sin so much that He was willing to die to overcome it. But above all sin distracts us from our ability to be useful in the work that God is doing. When we put our faith in Jesus, we are born again. Sin is behind us. Now we must move forward. There is work to do! When we pray “Thy kingdom come” we are acknowledging our part in the work of the King. This is God’s primary concern for His redeemed children. Like our Father, who sends the sun and the rain on every human being, we must love. “The time has come, to make a choice. Use my voice for the love of every man.”

The message of the cross fills us with the lightness of a clean conscience before God. Our hearts soar above the clouds with joy! But from this state of being, this state of preparation, comes the call to enter in to the scary work of the Kingdom. “Take courage sons, for we must go under the heart of darkness.”

Why must we go there? “To set them free.” This is profound. Those lost in the dark heart of the world are prisoners, enslaved by the prince of darkness. It is not that the people believe the wrong things and must be corrected, like the Islamists who will tell you what to believe under pain of death, or the religious who will tell you what to believe under pain of judgement and excommunication, it is that the people are prisoners who must be set free from the bondage of selfishness (the pride of life), ambition (the lust of the eyes), and distorted appetites (the lust of the flesh) (1 John 2:16). We must enter into the place where these people, precious individual creations of God, are and do battle with the things that hold them in bondage. Our weapon is love. “Not by my might, or my power, or by the strength of swords, only through, your love, my Lord.”

“Take courage sons.” Sons! In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches many amazing things. But they are all rooted in this one truth, God is our Father. I picture a scene where I am above the clouds with the joy of my salvation, holding the hand of my Daddy, my Abba Father (Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6). Together we stop and look at the suffering of the imprisoned ones. There are millions of them. (Looking around this coffee shop where I am writing, listening to a loud conversation laced with profanity and bitterness, my heart goes out to the imprisoned. I take a moment to pray for them.) But my Father calls me “son” and speaks courage into my heart.

“But don’t lose heart when you see the numbers, there’s no measure for the faith we bring.” Father, fill me with your Spirit! Help me to drink from the measureless well of faith, that I may have the boldness to love the majority of humanity that is lost in darkness. Help me not to lose heart when there is no response and when there are so many. Father, make me your son that I may be an expression of your love. Give me eyes to see what concerns You and ears to hear Your voice calling me on.

“There’s no measure for, the faith we bring
It’s given us, to overcome
If we run, where the spirit calls us on
The greatest things, have yet to come
With the dawn, we will rise”

About the author

Thaine Norris

As a follower of Jesus, I am a collector and publisher of faith testimonies to the glory of God.

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