BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#727 - "Clean" by Natalie Grant
Natalie Grant shares how this powerful, freeing song was divinely inspired.
 



Natalie Grant's 2013 album Hurricane blended everything I've always enjoyed about her music ministry: emotional ballads, exciting pop songs (including  "Closer to Your Heart" and "Hurricane," and worshipful celebrations and it was one of my top 10 albums of 2013. Her new album Be One continues in that same upbeat, worshipful vein.

In conjunction with Be One, which features the call to action song "Be One," I posted an article listing my Top 5 Natalie Grant Worship Songs. I recently had the opportunity to attend a Dare to Be Conference in Bensalem, Pennsylvania as a father-daughter outing, and we were very blessed by hearing inspiring messages from Charlotte Gambill and singing with Natalie Grant. I had the chance to speak with Natalie in-person about her stirring worship song "Clean."

Please tell me the personal story behind this song.

The way this song came about stopped me in my tracks. I've never heard the Lord speak to me audibly. I've been listening for years, and I definitely recognize His voice in my spirit. I've written a lot of songs over the years, and there have been some pinnacle moments, but none like this one. I felt like I was truly just holding the pen as the Lord wrote this song through me. It only took about twenty minutes. 

It came after I had met with a friend that afternoon, and she had been carrying a secret from her past for many years. Sitting with her and just watching her try to articulate an abuse that happened in her childhood, and saying and thinking that what had happened was too dirty to even talk about, we prayed and cried and read Scripture together. 

After she left, I just sat and thought how many people, and not just those who have never experienced Christ, but even how many Jesus followers have been going years and years of their life feeling only 95% whole and having something from their past-- a shame, a mistake, a hurt, where something has been done to them or they have done something. I couldn't help but think that they are walking around and smiling and worshiping and going to church, but inside have this wound that has never been fully healed. This idea that "I'm too dirty," I couldn't shake that, and I literally started singing "there's nothing too dirty, that You can't make worthy." 

In my fight against human trafficking, which I've been fighting for over a decade, I was thinking back to this church experience I had with a pastor, which was an unfortunate one. He didn't want me to talk about human trafficking at a concert. The pastor said he knew I liked to talk about that topic but that it was a family night and he didn't want me to discuss that because it was too dirty to talk about. That has stayed with me forever. It is something that has compelled me to keep telling the truth. If that guy thought that was too dirty to talk about, why do we have this idea that there are things that are taboo to talk about in the church? Things that are off-limits. That is religion. The church is the place where we should talk about everything and feel comfortable. What I'm talking about is a relationship. When you come in contact with Jesus, there's not religion, that's a transformation.

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

Isaiah 1:18 (NKJV): "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the Lord, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson they shall be as wool."

Romans 8:14-15 (NKJV): "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.'"

Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV): "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

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."

Colossians 1:24-26 (NKJV): "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints."

What is the takeaway message?

I was sitting in my piano room, and the words of my friend and that pastor all converged on me in that instant. I called my husband into the room with me, and I started to sing and he started following me perfectly on the piano, and it just flowed out. When we finished we were both weeping, and we needed to be reminded of these words. It doesn't matter how you've been hurt. The cool thing about Jesus is that He sees it all anyway, and He doesn't stand there with a clipboard, but He invites us to come as we are.

Somebody captured a video of this song, and the response to this song has been instantaneous. I know it was the Holy Spirit who wrote this song through me because of the way people connected. I hope to go on and write other songs, but I hope I'm remembered for this song. When you dive into the Scripture about how God takes the old things and makes us new, it's like dirty water coming out clean, and it's a constant and unrelenting process. It's not a one-time thing. It's a constant renewal. God makes us new, like an unstoppable water wheel that takes whatever is dirty and makes it clean. No matter what we do. Whether we have been walking with Jesus for 25 years or 25 minutes, He is able to consistently and constantly take the old and make us new.

Lyrics:
I see shattered
You see whole
I see broken
But You see beautiful
And You're helping me to believe
You're restoring me piece by piece

There's nothing too dirty that You can't make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean.
There's nothing too dirty that You can't make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean.

What was dead now lives again
My heart's beating, beating inside my chest
Oh I'm coming alive with joy and destiny
Cause You're restoring me piece by piece

There's nothing too dirty that You can't make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean.
There's nothing too dirty that You can't make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean.

Washed in the blood of Your sacrifice
Your blood flowed red and made me white
My dirty rags are purified
I am clean


I immediately connected with the message of this song, right from the opening lyrics "I see shattered, You see whole, I see broken, but You see beautiful." At times, we have issues with accepting how God sees us because of how we see ourselves. I studied the book Wild at Heart by John Eldridge with a couple of guys, and we all needed to uncover our wounds from our childhoods. In many cases, our wounds come from our fallen natures and sinful tendencies that scar our hearts. 

God wants you to know that "there's nothing too dirty that You can't make worthy, You wash me in mercy, I am clean." As a daddy with 3 young daughters, I especially take the message of this song to heart and want my girls to know that although I will let them down sometimes, we can bring it all to Jesus and He'll accept us no matter what we've done or how we view ourselves. 

So many believers still struggle with the idea that we have to prove ourselves worthy before God. Paul tells us in his letter to the Colossians that we need to rejoice in our sufferings as they bring us closer to Christ. Christians are new creations on the inside. The Holy Spirit gives us new life, and we don't have to live anymore with our guilt, fears or worries. We are born again and we need to live as children of God. Too often we get wrapped up in our circumstances and get down on ourselves with negative thoughts, allowing the Enemy to define self-worth. Jesus died on the Cross to set us free from the battle of our minds, from sin and death, and He wants us to have abundant life in Him. What a wonderful, encouraging truth.

We all have lies that we believe about ourselves. Also, we have an Enemy who doesn't like us. He does have a voice and he does speak to us, but the voice of God's Agape Love speaks louder. This song encourages us to see ourselves the way God sees us. What a great message of redemption: grace is unmerited favor, and it is a free gift. Remember that "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Be free from those doubts about yourself and know that "there's nothing too dirty that You can't make worthy" as you sing along "washed in the blood of Your sacrifice, Your blood flowed red and made me white, my dirty rags are purified, I am clean." Amen to that!

Watch Natalie perform the song 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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