David Crowder talks about the truth of the atonement and the hope it offers to wanderers.
Passion's songs are some of the most popular in modern worship music. Many of their songs are sung by millions in churches all across the country, including recent staples "Whom Shall I Fear," "10,000 Reasons," "Lord, I Need You," "Come as You Are" and "One Thing Remains." The live releases drawn from each year's conferences have been highly anticipated since the first edition in 1998. Crowder's worshipful songs have been featured throughout, starting with "You Alone" from Passion: Live Worship from the 268 Generation, and continuing with his songs "Everything Glorious," "No One Like You," "How He Loves," "Here's My Heart," "Lift Your Head Weary Sinner" and others.
Following the success of Neon Steeple, including a Dove Award and the top charting radio singles "I Am," "Come as You Are" and "Lift Your Head Weary Sinner (Chains)," Crowder is releasing an expanded edition called Neon Steeple Extravaganza with a bonus disc of live audio recorded in Atlanta, GA earlier in 2015. Neon Steeple, Crowder's first release as a solo artist, introduced the world to a new genre of music Crowder has dubbed "folktronica," a mixture of acoustic sounds and electronic beats. Don't miss the opportunity to see Crowder and his band sing these songs on Winter Jam. I had the chance to speak with David Crowder about "Lift Your Head Weary Sinner."
Please tell me the personal story behind this song.
This is one of my favorite songs on my album, and I have to listen to it at a loud volume. It gives me an excuse to turn up the volume which I like, and even in tracking the record, we may have blown out some speakers with the energy in the room. It has that swamp thing musically going on.
Thematically, we get to do something a little silly and fun at the same time when we do it live. Literally we have our wonderful violinist and cellist bang chains on the top of a washtub for one of the percussive elements when we start this song. It looks cool, and definitely sounds great because that's one of the sounds we used to record this song. I think it's funny because it's literal, because "chains" is in the song. Once you get to the bridge section, it ties the song together.
Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?
Hebrews 9:14(VOICE): "Then how much more powerful is the blood of the Anointed One, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself as a spotless sacrifice to God, purifying your conscience from the dead things of the world to the service of the living God?"
Acts 17:30-31(MSG): "God overlooks it as long as you don't know any better--but that time is past. The unknown is now known, and he's calling for a radical life-change. He has set a day when the entire human race will be judged and everything set right. And He has already appointed the judge, confirming Him before everyone by raising Him from the dead."
What is the takeaway message?
One of the main narratives and the arc of the Gospel, even back to the Israelites, was the exit from Paradise and a longing to return to a relationship between the created and their Creator. Our stories are all of being exiled and longing to return home. It feels like one of the main themes running through Scripture is home, the ultimate home being union with the Divine. This song is right in the middle of that theme that has been woven throughout Scripture and my album. This song is a turning point. The word "if" in the song lyrics "if you're lost and wandering" represents how the idea of sin, which necessitates this distance between us and God, is inherent in each of us.
The idea of atonement is that we as Christians have placed our faith and hope in Jesus and His blood sacrifice on behalf of our sins. We are raised to a new life and a new reconciled existence between our Creator God and us. We get the story of the Temple veil being torn in two and the blood of Christ allowing our access to God. When you get to that word "if" in the chorus, it's all inclusive. Everybody can answer "yes, I'm lost and wandering." The Hebrew tradition is that repentance came even before sin came, and represents an actual action in addition to a character flaw. We will do harm to someone. It's not just an ethereal idea. With our hands and our actions, we will do wrong to one another. There's got to be a way to come back into right standing with God. Repentance remedies the divide.
The idea of being "chained" to our sins is that now we are free when we are saved and walk in newness of life. We are now looking forward, because the blood of Jesus is enough and has atoned for whatever you've done. That theme is all through the album, and this song points us looking forward to home. What's crazy about the story of the prodigal son is that prodigal means "lavished one." It has a tie-in with the lyrics "come all saints and sinners," in that we commit terrible acts and think we can't return to God. The son who stayed home still had sin in his heart, and both sons had been lavished upon with the inheritance of their Father. One had wasted his inheritance and broke his union with his Father. We are given things, some are tangible materials and talents, and we have the opportunity to decide what we are going to do with the talents and gifts we've been given by God. We get to reach out to the son who has run away and throw a party for the ones who have left and return home.
Lyrics: Lift your head weary sinner the river's just ahead
Down the path of forgiveness salvation's waiting there
You built a mighty fortress 10,000 burdens high
Love is here to lift you up, here to lift you high
If you're lost and wandering
Come stumbling in like a prodigal child
See the walls start crumbling
Let the gates of glory open wide
All who've strayed and walked away, unspeakable things you've done
Fix your eyes on the mountain, let the past be dead and gone
Come all saints and sinners, you can't outrun God
Whatever you've done can't overcome the power of the blood
If you're lost and wrecked again
Come stumbling in like a prodigal child
See the walls start crumbling
Let the gates of glory be open wide
Many have felt or still feel misunderstood by parents when they give boundaries or rules that are meant to protect and help children who they love understand the Words of Jesus: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10, ESV). The story of the Prodigal Son in Luke's Gospel account (Luke 15:11-32) is everyone's story. In one way or another, we all want our inheritance and want to squander everything with prodigal living. The Good News of the Gospel is that we're never too far away from the reach of our loving Father God.
Jesus promises us in Matthew 11:29-30 that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Jesus came to claim us and set us free from the burden of sin and give us rest. When we are in communion with Jesus, it is joyful and not a burden. The song reflects that truth beautifully with the lyrics "Come all saints and sinners, you can't outrun God. Whatever you've done can't overcome the power of the blood."
This song has become my personal anthem, and I sing along at the top of my lungs the sincere and emotive lyrics of submission in the refrain. To enter God's Kingdom, we all need to proclaim "Father, I have sinned against heaven and in Your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called Your son" (Luke 15:21, NKJV). God's answer to each of us who return to Him will be "for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found" (Luke 15:24, NKJV). That's cause for celebration! If you're praying for restoration, join in and sing along, "If you're lost and wandering, come stumbling in like a prodigal child. See the walls start crumbling, let the gates of glory be open wide." Amen to that!
Watch the music video below.
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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