BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#640 - "Glow in the Dark" by Jason Gray
Jason Gray talks about how shining as beacons of Jesus's love is less about what we do and more about who we are in Him.
 


Ever since I first heard "Blessed Be" by Jason Gray from his album All the Lovely Losers, I was hooked by the emotional and biblical messages of his songs. In fact, that song was the 8th song I ever featured for my "behind the song" devotional article series, which started back in March 2008. I've since featured eleven more of Jason's songs and now this is our 13th devotional together, making Jason the most featured artist over the past seven years and 640 song devotionals.
 
I'm always excited to hear new music from Jason. One of my Top 10 Albums of 2014, Love will Have the Final Word, opens with the radio-friendly and fun song "Laugh out Loud" and the hit song "With Every Act of Love," showcasing Jason's gifts as a songwriter. Jason has recently released Post Script, which holds 9 new recordings and remixes including "Glow in the Dark," which has once again captivated me as it features Jason's unique brand of gourmet lyrical phrasing embedded with the truth of the Gospel for those "with ears to hear." I had the chance to speak with Jason about his new song "Glow in the Dark."

Please tell me the personal story behind this song.

It was time for some new songs, and as I thought about the next thing I wanted to communicate musically, I realized that there was a lot about pain on the last album. I was wanting to stake my claim a little bit in the joy category. I was pretty exhausted and burnt out by the time it came to needing to write this song and record it. Musically, it's joyful, and yet the lyrics make me think and reflect on where I was when I wrote the song. 

I think a joyful song is the hardest kind to write. In my experience, when you write a joyful song with completely happy lyrics, I don't experience it as joyful at that point. It feels kind of disposable. Yet, a joyful piece of music with a real lyric feels joyful, to me anyway. It feels like it has deeper roots. 

We really wanted to say something in this song. That's always how I feel, and I want to hopefully offer some meaningful observation in my songs. The song was born out of an encounter I had with a young woman who came up to me asking for prayer during my most recent tour with Big Daddy Weave. She wanted prayer about a very dark home situation. I was praying with her at the end of the evening of the tour, as we did each evening of that tour. It felt right to encourage her that I think that she was how the Lord wanted to break into that dark home situation. That's how He might do it, and I wanted her to be encouraged by that. 

I thought about how so often, we ask so much of broken people, don't we? That conversation was on my mind when I went in to co-write the song with Ben Glover. I didn't want to ask anything of the listener, but just assumed the listener is in the dark and the last thing they need is some guy singing "you can do it, just try harder."

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

Philippians 2:14-16 (NIV): "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life--in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing."

Matthew 5:14-16 (The Voice): "And you, beloved, are the light of the world. A city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden. Similarly it would be silly to light a lamp and then hide it under a bowl. When someone lights a lamp, she puts it on a table or a desk or a chair, and the light illumines the entire house. You are like that illuminating light. Let your light shine everywhere you go, that you may illuminate creation, so men and women everywhere may see your good actions, may see creation at its fullest, may see your devotion to Me, and may turn and praise your Father in heaven because of it."

What is the takeaway message?

Go in there and be the light for Jesus. Sometimes we're so beat up and broken, and I wanted to clarify that I didn't think she needed to do anything or try harder or be a good witness. I told her she just needed to go and be herself. Be the daughter of her heavenly Father. That doesn't mean you have to be perfect. Grace is revealed through imperfection. If you are a son or daughter of your heavenly Father, you don't have to do anything but allow Him to reveal Himself through your imperfections.

So much of evangelical, Western Christianity puts emphasis on the believer. I wanted to do a song that spoke the language of evangelicals, but I wanted to make sure I wasn't making a demand on the listener to "go out there and glow in the dark." I wanted to assure them that hopefully they don't have to go and do, but go and be. You were made to glow in the dark, so that's what's going to happen. You don't have to be perfect. The most significant line in the song is, "Don't be ashamed of your past, if you're shattered like a piece of glass, the more broke you are the more the light gets through. Show your wounds and your flaws, show them why you still need the cross, let them see the work He's doing in you." That's the heart of the song.

Lyrics:
Sometimes the world feels like a mess
Full of drama, full of stress
And life puts a fist right in your ribs
You can hide if you choose to
And no one would even blame you
Or you can let them see how you deal with it

That even in the darkest place
His love can make you radiate

Doesn't matter how deep, how dark the night is
Keep hoping, keep on shining
And they'll see His light burning in your heart
And if the road gets rough, just keep your head up
Let the world see what you're made of
That His love's alive in your deepest parts
Like a flame, like a burning star you can shine right where you are
He made you to glow in the dark

Don't be ashamed of your past
If you're shattered like a piece of glass
The more broke you are the more the light gets through
Show your wounds and your flaws
Show them why you still need the cross
Let them see the work He's doing in you

That even in the darkest place
His love can make you radiate

Doesn't matter how deep, how dark the night is
Keep hoping, keep on shining
And they'll see His light burning in your heart
And if the road gets rough, just keep your head up
Let the world see what you're made of
That His love's alive in your deepest parts
Like a flame, like a burning star you can shine right where you are
He made you to glow in the dark

Doesn't matter how deep, how dark the night is
Keep hoping, keep on shining
And they'll see His light burning in your heart
And if the road gets rough, just keep your head up
Let the world see what you're made of
That His love's alive in your deepest parts
Like a flame, like a burning star you can shine right where you are
He made you to glow in the dark
Glow in the dark
Doesn't matter how
Glow in the dark
Doesn't matter how


For Jason's newer listeners, this new collection of songs is loaded with the type of musical hooks that have made him a radio fixture from his string of hit songs including "More like Falling in Love," "I Am New," "Remind Me Who I Am," "Good to Be Alive," "Nothing is Wasted," "With Every Act of Love" and "Laugh Out Loud." For longtime fans of his entire body of singer-songwriter work, you'll be thrilled to add Love Will Have the Final Word: Post Script EP to your collection.

From All the Lovely Losers to Love Will Have the Final Word and now with Post Script, I hear maturation in the subject matter with lyrical depth and musical layers that have made Jason among my favorite male artists alongside Bebo Norman, Shaun Groves and Josh Wilson. In fact, if you like singer-songwriters who wear their hearts on their sleeves and sing about the truth of what it means to walk with God and work out their salvation with fear and trembling, then don't miss out on one of Christian music's most treasured artists, Jason Gray.

I really like the upbeat musical vibe and matching upbeat message and call to action of "Glow in the Dark." Matching the lyrical content and musical mood has long been one of Jason's specialties. The lyrics of this song encapsulate what I've long admired about Jason's music ministry, an accessible and catchy melody and a personal connection to a deep and meaningful topic expressed in a memorable way. Going from song to song and album to album, I've been speaking with Jason consistently regarding how his faith and his art intertwine over the past 7 years, and this song is the follow-up to our last discussion about "Laugh Out Loud," which is also a joyful song.

Regarding this great song "Glow in the Dark," my pastor recently shared that "a lamp doesn't talk, but it shines." That's our job as Christians. Sometimes it is better to keep our mouths closed and not get in the way of the Gospel. As followers of Jesus, we can live out the words: "Let the world see what you're made of, that His love's alive in your deepest parts. Like a flame, like a burning star you can shine right where you are, He made you to glow in the dark." Amen to that!

(Watch the lyric video 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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