Hawk Nelson has released their seventh studio album Diamonds
, the second release since their reinvention with guitarist Jon Steingard taking over vocals. I've long enjoyed their brand of faith based music, especially their hit songs "Crazy Love," "Live Life Loud," "Bring Em Out," "Friend Like That," "Everything You Ever Wanted" and more recently "Words" and "A Million Miles Away" from their last album Made
"Diamonds talks about how God can use pressure, struggle, trials and stress in our life and make it into something stronger and more beautiful," lead singer Jon Steingard said. "Just in the same way that diamonds are made. It's a big comfort to me when I'm in those times to remember that hardships have a purpose and aren't without meaning. A diamond is strong. It reflects light. It doesn't have any light of its own, but it reflects the light that it receives." I had the chance to speak with Jon Steingard about "Drops in the Ocean."
Please tell me the personal story behind this song.
This is the first time I've been part of writing a song from God's perspective, and I wrestled with that a whole lot. I wondered if that was okay, because I'm kind of putting words in God's mouth in the song. I felt like I had to weigh carefully if these words were in God's nature and what He would really say to us. I feel like everything in the song is okay.
For this album, more than ever, we were in a place that if we aren't singing about things that matter eternally or have significance, then we are just spinning our wheels. We love having a good time and high energy shows, but we want people to experience more from our music. Lyrically, this is our most focused effort ever. Even the up tempo songs like "Diamonds" and "Thank God for Something" are energetic, but they still say something we feel passionate about.
With this song, we were playing a concert at a youth convention, and they were listening to a message. I could see it on their faces, that they were trying to figure out how to live their lives as teenagers, and that if they made mistakes in their lives, then their Christianity was in question.
For the young man dealing with a secret addiction or the teenage girl trying to figure out how to tell her parents that she's pregnant, a dangerous lie became believable: that God's grace and love could not possible extend this far. It was in one of these cell phone light moments in a show that I was struck with a feeling that this is what God wanted to say to an entire generation: that He is for us, He is not against us.
Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?
Romans 8:31 (NKJV)
: "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:38-39 (NKJV)
: "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
What is the takeaway message?
We know the truth: that God sees every one of us and each one of us matters to Him. We aren't overlooked or lost. We are seen and we are known. For those of us that grew up going to church, we were raised hearing all kinds of things about Jesus, about the salvation He bought for us on the cross and how to live lives that glorified Him. Yet, for so many of us there was disconnect, and the idea of grace seemed just too good to be true.
I'm a pastor's kid, so growing up in the church, I heard tons of things about Jesus all the time, much of which filled me with hope and peace. Other times though, I heard things that made me feel guilty and ashamed for the way that I was and my sinful nature and some of the tendencies that I felt as a human being. More than anything, the turning point in my life and in my relationship with Jesus came when I realized that God is for us; He is not against us. He's not standing over me waiting for me to mess up. He's cheering me on and standing behind me, covering all my steps with His amazing grace.
He's not standing over us waiting for us to fail, He's standing behind us cheering us on like a proud parent. There is not checklist of things that we need to fix before we can run to Him. He's saying "run to me exactly as you are, and we'll take this journey together." So no matter where we are or where we've been, we can chose today to open up our hearts and start again down a new path. And every speck of fault, blame and guilt will be as lost as a pinpoint of light in that sea of brightness, like a drop in the ocean.
I want you as you are, not as you ought to be
Won't you lay down your guard and come to Me
The shame that grips you now is crippling
It breaks My heart to see you suffering
Cause I am for you
I'm not against you
If you want to know
How far My love can go
Just how deep, just how wide
If want to see
How much you mean to Me
Look at My hands, look at My side
If you could count the times I say you are forgiven
It's more than the drops in the ocean
Don't think you need to settle for a substitute
When I'm the only love that changes you
Open your heart
It's time that we start again
This is one of my favorite songs of the year. I can't get enough of the Biblical truth found here, and I love when artists take God's Word from the Bible and turn it into a great and catchy song filled with truth. I sing this song to God, as being sung by God over us, with all of my heart. I know for a fact "If you want to know, How far My love can go, just how deep, just how wide, If want to see, How much you mean to Me, Look at My hands, look at My side.
My pastor uses the acronym "God's Riches at Christ's Expense" to define grace. What an amazing picture of the grace of God. When you've put all of your hope and trust in Jesus for your salvation, you can't help but want to celebrate that free gift of undeserved and unmerited favor from God. As Christians, we all have a reason to reflect on God's Holy and Perfect sacrifice of His son Jesus. He died for us so that in Him we might know God's righteousness. We can't earn grace, and we can't do anything to gain life other than accept Jesus.
This song really sets my heart in the right place for Easter. What if we lived as though we believe the sincere words of this song? Jesus loves us so much that He came down and took our punishment so that we can be with Him forever. God can really love us after all of our mistakes. As this song proclaims "Cause I am for you, I'm not against you
." Amen to that!
(Watch the lyric video here.