Ellie Holcomb shares about facing our imperfections and the way our brokenness can become a conduit for God's love.
Ellie is the daughter of legendary Christian music producer Brown Bannister, and 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, Holcomb's full-length follow-up to EPs Magnolia and With You Now, is available everywhere February 18. 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. I had the chance to speak with Ellie about "The Broken Beautiful."
Please tell me the personal story behind writing this song.
This song is really a prayer. A lot of times the songs that I write are about the things I need to remember that are true that I so easily forget.
One of the things I've seen God do in my story is that He has taken the darkest, most broken parts and brought healing and redemption. I've seen Him do the same thing with dear friends who were facing trials that were so dark and messy that I wondered how on earth God would show up. Lo and behold, God is faithful. He does show up. He is the best Person that I know when you are facing suffering, because He suffered too. This song is a prayer that I would remember that God is able to heal any broken situation and any broken heart because He walked out of the grave.
Ann Voskamp wrote a beautiful book, One Thousand Gifts. Paraphrasing her, she wrote, "this is the thing, when I see my brokenness it whispers that I don't belong, and then scarred, rejected God says come with Me, My beloved." I love that! This is a song to remind me of how He's done that in the past. He's brought light and hope into the darkest places of my life, and in the lives of the people I've seen around me. It's a reminder that as I face trials, that I won't forget that He is able, and nothing is too much for Him.
Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song? Isaiah 61:10 (The Voice): I am filled with joy and my soul vibrates with exuberant hope, because of the Eternal my God; For He has dressed me with the garment of salvation, wrapped me with the robe of righteousness. It's as though I'm dressed for my wedding day, in the very best: a bridegroom's garland and a bride's jewels.
Psalm 30:11-12 (The Voice):You did it: You turned my deepest pains into joyful dancing; You stripped off my dark clothing and covered me with joyful light. You have restored my honor. My heart is ready to explode, erupt in new songs! It's impossible to keep quiet! Eternal One, my God, my Life-Giver, I will thank You forever.
Romans 8:28 (NIV):And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
What is the takeaway message?
The bridge of the song comes right from Psalm 30. David is a great example for me. In his greatest sorrow and in his darkest mistakes he returns to God. He says "You turned my wailing into dancing, You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy." I've seen God do that in my life and in the lives of people in my community. It is hard to remember when you are in the middle of suffering sometimes that God has done that and will continue to do that. That's what I hope this song will remind me of.
Someone once said to me that once you start to earn anything, it ceases to be grace. I am a recovering perfectionist. My dad once told me while I was in college that he saw that I was trying and trying to be good but was failing. He told me to picture a vase with water pouring into it— eventually water will spill out of the top. Then he told me to picture a vase that has cracks and a few holes in it. When water is poured into that vase, the water comes out through the cracks and holes. He told me that as God's love is poured into our lives, it comes out of our broken places, and that's where He is glorified. He meets our every need and He fills those cracks and broken places with His love.
There is so much freedom and an invitation from Jesus to be fully known and fully accepted because of what He did on the Cross. He walked out of the grave! We are invited into that resurrection life. It is my tendency sometimes to go back to the grave, because it is the story I'm most familiar with. That sounds crazy. We are invited to come out of the grave and respond to the invitation that it is good to leave the past behind and celebrate how God has met us and changed our lives. We need to live remembering how God has met us in our broken places.
Lyrics: I know that I don't bring a lot to the table Just little pieces of a broken heart There's days I wonder if You'll still be faithful Hold me together when I fall apart? Would You remind me now of who You are?
That Your love will never change, that there's healing in your name That You can take broken things, and make them beautiful You took my shame And You walked out of the grave So Your love can take broken things and make them beautiful
I'm better off when I begin to remember How You have met me in my deepest pain So give me glimpses now of how You have covered All of my heart ache, oh with all Your grace Remind me now that You can make a way
You say that You'll turn my weeping into dancing Remove my sadness & cover me with joy You say your scars are the evidence of healing That You can make the broken beautiful
You make us beautiful, oh oh You make us beautiful
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 her stellar "gourmet" offerings of praise and worship. "As Sure As the Sun" "Marvelous Light," "The Broken Beautiful," "Night Song," "Love Never Fails," "Love Broke Through," "The Valley" and "I Want to Be Free" are all stand-out tracks filled with overwhelming biblical truth and are companions in my personal prayer and worship time.
Ellie has captivating and catchy songs filled with inspirational lyrics, and she brings sincerity and relatable themes that get deeper with each listen. As Sure As the Sun is one of the top albums of the year and is a moving and prayerful worship experience.
"The Broken Beautiful" begins with the prayerful words "I know that I don't bring a lot to the table, just little pieces of a broken heart." Right from the opening notes you'll be captivated by this amazing song. The strong biblical message "Your love will never change, there's healing in Your name, You'll take broken things and make them beautiful" celebrates that "Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever" and that God takes broken things and makes them beautiful.
I'm extremely moved by the passion behind the lyrics speaking of how we think we are never good enough, yet Jesus saw something beautiful in us worth dying for. That's cause to celebrate and lift our voices in joy, and remember that Jesus "turns our weeping into dancing." Amen to that!
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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