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#740 - "Live it Well" by Switchfoot
Switchfoot's Chad Butler and Drew Shirley share the heart of a song and an album 20 years in the making.

Posted: July 21, 2016 | By: KevinDavis_NRT
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Switchfoot has had a major impact on my walk as a believer from the time of their third release Learning to Breathe, which features the songs "Love is the Movement," "I Dare You to Move" and the title track. I was a new Christian at the time, and my favorite bands were Lifehouse, Collective Soul and Weezer. I greatly enjoyed hearing my favorite alternative rock musical style wrapped around hope-filled lyrics as I was processing the events of the world through my new worldview, trying to see as God sees.

The band's next seven releases have been a constant companion on that journey as my faith has matured. Their songs "Meant to Live," "We Are One Tonight," "Awakening," "This is Home," "Your Love is a Song," "Always," "Restless," "Where I Belong" and "When We Come Alive" have strengthened my resolve that this world is not our permanent home, and while we are here our life is a vapor. We have a responsibility to remember that "we were meant to live for so much more" than what the world tells us, and in the name of unity and as we look at all people as made in God's image, know that "love alone is worth the fight."

Considering the recent tragedies surrounding us all over the world, the band's 10th release Where the Light Shines Through is another timely reminder of those themes and arguably the band's strongest release to date. The album is full of songs about healing, including the title track, "I Won't Let You Go," "Hope is the Anthem" and "Live it Well," providing more guidance and comfort to believers trying to make sense of it all. I had the chance to speak with Drew Shirley and Chad Butler in person about "Live it Well."

Please tell me the personal story behind this song.

Chad: Like you said, sometimes a song can embody what you're feeling in a way that's difficult to put into words and everyday conversation. In a song you have a license to talk about things that are deeper and more difficult, the struggles of faith and doubt and joy and pain all at once. 

Really this song has been twenty years in the making for us. We have a mantra as a band: "life is short, I want to live it well." Sometimes you say it to yourself to remind yourself of the importance of each day and each moment and the brevity of life. I'm really glad we were finally able to find a way to weave it into a song, and it's a shining moment on the album for me.

Drew: This song was a career in the making, and I think this whole album was a career in the making. It took us twenty years to make this album. It's called Where the Light Shines Through. The wound is where the light shines through. That's a theme we've been featuring for years, the balance of living in the tension of struggle and faith, and the beautiful letdown. We've really wrestled with this concept from a lot of angles for a lot of years. 

This past year was the most difficult of the band's life, personally and business-wise. It was supposed to be a dark album, and a release of all that emotion. In the middle of making the album, the title track came along. Hope broke through. Hope shines the brightest in the darkest places. You have to experience it. We don't fake it very well. As a band we write about, especially Jon, writes about what he's really going through. The best song is an honest song.

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

Hebrews 13:14 (NLT): "For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come."

Ecclesiastes 2:11 (NLT): "But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless--like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere."

Psalm 90:12-17 (MSG): "Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well! Come back, God--how long do we have to wait?--and treat Your servants with kindness for a change. Surprise us with love at daybreak; then we'll skip and dance all the day long. Make up for the bad times with some good times; we've seen enough evil to last a lifetime. Let Your servants see what You're best at--the ways You rule and bless Your children. And let the loveliness of our Lord, our God, rest on us, confirming the work that we do. Oh, yes. Affirm the work that we do!"

Matthew 5:14-16 (MSG): "Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand--shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven."

Romans 12:15 (NKJV): "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep."

What is the takeaway message?

Drew: When the theme of hope broke through in writing for this album, this song embodies our desire to go through the hard times and the good times well. I've heard John Piper say if you're in a sorrowful place, be sorrowful well. It's not about always being happy or having enough or feeling strong. It's about living life well even when you're feeling weak. 

Our music has been landmarks for people and for us as well. This album is ten albums in the making because we've had to live and experience these things in order to write songs about them. "Hope deserves an anthem" became our battle cry, and we want to be a band singing that anthem at the top of our lungs wherever we can, all around the world.

Chad: That Psalm 90 passage says it well. We need to remember to number our days and to live well. Teach us to live wisely and well--I need that every day. Like Drew was saying, regardless of what is going on, difficult or good times. How do you live well for others? How do you respond to others in an appropriate way? How do you love your neighbor? Even now, thinking about songs on the album that represent the turning point of the difficult year we went through, there was a resurrection of hope. The songs reflect that new perspective. Each song is a snapshot of a conversation.

I wanna live it well
Yeah, yeah
I wanna live it well

Take the burden from my arms
Take the anchors off my lungs
Take me broken
And make me one
Break the silence and make it a song

Life is short I wanna live it well
One life, one story to tell
Life is short I wanna live it well
And You're the one I'm living for
Awaken, oh my soul!
Every breath that you take is a miracle
Life is short I wanna live it well, yeah

I wanna sing with all my heart a lifelong song
Even if some notes come out right and some come out wrong
'Cause I can't take none of that through the door
Yeah, I'm living for more than just a funeral
I wanna burn brighter than the dawn

Life is short I wanna live it well
One life, one story to tell
Life is short; I wanna live it well
And You're the one I'm living for
Awaken all my soul!
Every breath that you take is a miracle
Life is short I wanna live it well, yeah

I got one life
And one love
I got one voice
But maybe that's enough
'Cause with one heartbeat
And two hands to give
I got one shot
One life to live
One life to live, yeah
And every breath you take is a miracle

Life is short I wanna live it well
One life, one story to tell (one love)
Life is short I wanna live it well
And You're the one I'm living for (the one, yeah)
Awaken all my soul!
Every breath that you take is a miracle
Life is short I wanna live it well
And You're the one I'm living for

(One life) One life, one love
(One love) One life, one love
(One voice) One voice, yeah
(And that's enough) And that's enough, oh
(One heartbeat, two hands to give)
I got one shot and one life to live, one life to live

"If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world," wrote C.S. Lewis in the book Mere Christianity. As believers in Christ, we know that we are made for God. We were all created to find our home in Him. I love that Switchfoot has based many of their great songs on the Book of Ecclesiastes, which is filled with Solomon's wisdom being passed on to all of us. 

No matter what your worldview, we all need to remember that Earth isn't our permanent home and our freedom from the pain and suffering and heartache of this world will come when we enter the true rest that can only come from living eternally with Jesus Christ. Once you've accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, you actually gain comfort in knowing that this life is "meaningless" apart from Him.

Another theme from the last several Switchfoot albums has been "love does," as stated by the Bob Goff book. In Love Does, Bob Goff described that "sometimes we present ourselves as a copy of who we are instead of the original version of ourselves because we don't want to get damaged." We only get "one shot and one life to live." As Drew shared, "Hope deserves an anthem became our battle cry and we want to be a band singing that anthem at the top of our lungs wherever we can, all around the world." That's our call as believers as well. Your life is a journey. Live each moment well and make this your heart's cry: "I wanna sing with all my heart a lifelong song."

As Christians, we need to live it well in the good times and the bad times. "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep." Rather than keeping feelings to yourself, live in community. That's one of the ways we can live it well. If you're looking for the words to express the feelings of your heart, sing out this anthem at the top of your lungs: "Awaken all my soul! Every breath that you take is a miracle. Life is short I wanna live it well, and You're the one I'm living for." Amen to that!

Listen to 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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