I have had a strong connection with Matthew West
since his first album in 2004--well, with his music, anyway. Back then, I was a seeker--wanting a full relationship with Christ, without taking full responsibility for my worldly actions. However, this didn't stop the Lord. He wanted me to come home. So he used West's music, along with others, as one ministry to do just that.
A friend of mine introduced me to Christian music: Newsboys and Third Day, among others. I was surprised how the music sounded like rock and pop, and not Sunday morning "special" music, like the Gaithers or Sandi Patty (my mom is a huge fan of Christian music pioneer Kristy Lane). Eventually, I started seeking out Christian music on my own volition. And during my search, I discovered Christian rock bands Building 429, Kutless, Skillet and, of course, Matthew West.
The first Matthew West song which caught my ears was, "More," a fast-paced love song filled with beautiful guitar riffs. It was West's breakout single from his debut album, Happy
. In short, "More" is a love song from God, not a significant other: "I love you more than the sun and the stars that I taught how to shine / You are mine, and you shine for me, too, I love you / Yesterday and today and tomorrow, I'll say it again and again / I love you more.
" To me, this was weird. Love songs from God? Interesting concept. I've always been used to love songs about marriage, broken relationships, and long lost loves. "More" left a lasting impression; it showed me that there are love songs that transcend human relationships. This eye-opening revelation was only the beginning.
I was a new Christian by the time "History" hit the radio. As a seeker, there were many reasons why I didn't give myself to Christ (not wanting to separate myself from the world was a big one). Another reason was shame. I thought God would never want me, especially after what I've done. Plus, how could I live up to these Christians who live such a wholesome life. "History" spoke truth into this shame: "You know you can't stay right where you fell / The hardest part is forgiving yourself / But let's take a walk into today / And don't let your past get in the way / Yesterday is history / And history is miles away / So, leave it all behind you / But let it always remind you of the day / The day that love made history.
" God loves me in spite of my checkered past. The blood of Christ has washed away every sin, leaving me free to have a relationship with Him. This song helps me remember that whenever I hear it.
"You are Everything"
For me, this is "More," Part 2. "More" gave me a glimpse of West's love for God through the eyes and ears of a seeker. This time, in "You Are Everything," I got to experience West's message of reverence as a new Christian: "You're everything good in my life / Everything honest and true / And all of those stars hanging up in the sky / Could never shine brighter than you / You are everything that I live for / Everything that I can't believe is happening / You're standing right in front of me / With arms wide open, all I know / Is everyday is filled with hope.
" To me, this song says, I'm not a seeker with one foot in the water, I'm a child of God walking on water, with Christ.
By the time "Family Tree" hit the radio, my family was recovering from a number of tragedies: the death of my grandfather, a nasty divorce, and two breakups. Feeling a taste of Job's devastation, we had lost a lot, and had to rebuild. Matthew West's "Family Tree" reminded me that God never let any of us suffer alone, especially through these hard times: "No, this is not your legacy / This is not your destiny / Yesterday does not define you / No, this is not your legacy / This is not your meant to be / I can break the chains that bind you.
" Since then, my family has experienced many new beginnings. I have a beautiful, loving wife and two very cute nieces. God's redemption is good. Just ask Matthew West.
At the moment, my wife and I are unable to have children. "Untold" stings when I hear it. The message serves as a reminder that many people take life, and having a child, for granted. There are many people out there who can't have children. These couples would do almost anything to have a child. Cherish the life of your child; you're blessed beyond compare.
I find this song more relevant to me now, than 10 years ago. There was excitement when I first became a Christian. Everything was new; the life, the experiences--like a new relationship. But, like many other Christians, I've fallen into the "business as usual" slump. Or, as Matthew West puts it, "going through the motions": praying, reading the word, worshipping, et cetera, et cetera. West's "The Motions," from his 2009 album, You Are Everything
, acknowledges these setbacks. Songs like "The Motions" brings out my passion for Christ. It takes me out of my slump and reminds me what God has done for me in my life.
For me, this is "More," Part 3, my 10-year anniversary living with Christ. I think back to when I first heard "More" in my ratty, tatty one-bedroom apartment. My attitude of, "I should give my life to God, but..." has been replaced with a solid relationship with Him. Today's struggles are so much different than what they were back then. Instead of the old proverbial, "should become a Christian" has been replaced with, "Why can't you be more forgiving, loving, graceful, etc.?" Sometimes I believe that I have to be perfect to be accepted by God. What a fabrication. West reminds me that God uses broken thing, including us, to do His will.
Now, my relationship with Christ--and Matthew West's music, continues. I'm ready for "More, Part 4."
What's your story?