BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#569 - "Marvelous Light" by Ellie Holcomb
Ellie Holcomb shares the life-giving experience of walking out of the shadows of shame and perfectionism and into the light of Jesus's unconditional love.
 


GMA Dove Award winning New Artist of the Year, Ellie Holcomb is the daughter of legendary Christian music producer Brown Bannister. She broke into the music scene when she was just five years old by singing back-up vocals with Amy Grant. I first heard Ellie Holcomb sing with her husband's band Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors when they opened for NEEDTOBREATHE on their tour last year. 

As Sure As the Sun is Holcomb's full-length follow-up to EPs Magnolia and With You Now. She raised the funds needed to make the album with her Kickstarter campaign, resulting in one of the most funded music projects to date.

Having previously enjoyed her songs with Drew like "Hung the Moon" and her duet with Christa Wells on "Have Your Eyes Open," I was excited to hear the songs from her new album, all of which are based on Scripture. Her debut single "The Broken Beautiful" has already blessed listeners. I had the chance to speak with Ellie about her follow-up single, "Marvelous Light."

Please tell me the personal story behind this song.

I love the author and singer-songwriter Andrew Peterson. He wrote a series of four books called "The Wingfeather Saga." I describe it as a combination between Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, and it is sort of written for children but resonates with adults. There is a character in the books, and he spends most of his life trying to hide the things he did in his past from the people he loved the most and his family.

There's a scene in the second book where all of his secrets and all of these things he's ashamed about are exposed in front of his family who he loves and other people as well. I remember reading it and my shoulders tensed up and my neck was tight. I will never forget what Andrew wrote after this intense scene. He wrote that he moved about his days with wonder and peace, because he found that his whole story had been told for the first time and he was still loved.

I just wept after reading that. Hello, my name is Ellie Holcomb, and I am a recovering perfectionist. I spent most of my life thinking that following Jesus was me being good enough. I looked perfect on the outside and was falling to pieces on the inside. I've been in a band with my husband the past eight and half years. You put a performer perfectionist personality in that kind of environment, and you have a person in need of intensive counseling.

There was this beautiful invitation from my counselor and Jesus Himself to be both fully known and fully loved at the same time. Being fully known and fully loved by Jesus is one of the sweetest things I've ever known. No one ever said to me that it was okay to not be okay. I just didn't know. Following Jesus for me was all about me being good enough. What I've learned is that following Jesus is about His goodness to us when we are running hard and fast in the other direction. I was a believer who had no freedom, and not a lot of peace. All of a sudden, I came out of hiding and into the light of who Jesus is and what He did for me. I found a place of acceptance in the middle of my brokenness. I couldn't believe it.

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

1 Peter 2:9 (NKJV): "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."

Romans 8:28 (NKJV): "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."

Romans 8:38-39 (NIV): "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV): "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new."

What is the takeaway message?

A Scripture that conveys being fully known by Jesus in the second half of 1 Peter 2:9, which talks about how He's called us and He loves us, that we may sing the praises of Him who called us out of the darkness and into His marvelous light. That Scripture tells the story of what Jesus did in my life.

It has been such a joy to tour and sing these songs and be real with people about my brokenness. I know that I'm accepted. I don't have to pretend or hide anymore. What an honor to get to say, "I am a mess, and God loves me. He's crazy for loving me, but He loves me anyway!"

It is one of those songs that never gets old singing it, because I will never stop being grateful that He knows everything about me and loves me anyway. I used to do repentance on New Year's Eve. I would look at what I'd done and promise to do better. Now I ask God to expose my mistakes into His light and cleanse me. As I see my need more and more for Jesus, His grace and what He did for me on the Cross becomes bigger and bigger to me. There's a daily renewing.

I tried so hard to be good and to love Him. At the core I didn't believe His love would be enough for me. In my heart, I told Him thanks but no thanks. What I did is try to put my worth and identity in guys. Most people didn't know the unhealthy level that was in my life. Doing things my way got me into some dark and destructive places. I felt used, discarded, unloved and unworthy.

I read the story of Hosea and how God called him to marry a woman who was going to run around on him. It is a beautiful metaphor of what God's love is for us. As our hearts run after other things, our God is the one true lover of our soul who will never leave us or forsake us. As God called me into the light, I found that I didn't have to be defined by my pain anymore. Now I'm defined by the healing of Jesus. Telling these stories is how Romans 8:28 might work out for good for me and others in this situation.

Lyrics:
I am not who I once was
Defined by all the things I've done
Afraid my shame would be exposed
Afraid of really being known
But then You gave my heart a home

So I walked out of the darkness and into the light
From fear of shame into the hope of life
Mercy called my name and made a way to fly
Out of the darkness and into the light

With years of keeping secrets safe
Wondering if I could change
'Cause when you're hiding all alone
Your heart can turn into a stone
And that's not the way I want to go

So I walk out of the darkness and into the light
From fear of shame into the hope of life
Mercy called my name and made a way to fly
Out of the darkness and into the light

There's no place I would rather be
Your light is Marvelous
Your light is Marvelous
You have come to set us free
You are Marvelous
Your light is Marvelous

So I walked out of the darkness and into the light
From fear of shame into the hope of life
Mercy called my name and made a way to fly
Out of the darkness and into the light


"Marvelous Light" is a great reminder of our "royal priesthood" as believers, and how Scripture urges us to "walk out of the darkness and into the light." The song celebrates the promise of 1 Peter 2:9 (NKJV): "you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." As expressed in Luke 7:47 (NKJV): "Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little." Ellie loves a lot, and that is evident throughout this stellar "gourmet" offering.

For me, the most encouraging part of this song is the message that I don't have to be perfect, but that God knows me and loves me just as I am. That is cause for celebration as we all have freedom to be ourselves and know that He has great plans for us as His children. A blessing I've received from this song is listening to my daughters sing these words with all of their hearts. These are the thoughts I want them to know to point them to the unconditional love of their Heavenly Father. He is singing these words over all of us.

This song is a great example of a biblical truth that all listeners can resonate with. Christians are brand-new people on the inside. The Holy Spirit gives us new life, and we don't have to live anymore with our guilt, fears, perfectionism or worries. We are called as Christians to believe in the freedom that we have in the Cross of Jesus. We don't need to be in hiding. The really "Good News and Great Truth" found throughout this album is that God doesn't see us in our dirty states. He views us as washed white as snow by the blood of His Son Jesus Christ. That alone is cause for celebration.

This song is a personal testimony to the power of walking out of the darkness and into God's marvelous light. This song celebrates the freedom we are promised in God's Holy Word: "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." Amen to that!

(Watch a performance of the song here.)


 

NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.

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