Opening track "Find You Here" is an engaging song, with Ellie's passionate vocals setting the tone for this exceptional album. The redemptive, biblical and catchy themes continue throughout the rest of the Red Sea Road, which was one of my Top 10 Albums of 2017. I had the chance to speak with Ellie about "He Will."
Please tell me the personal story behind this song.
I was on a radio tour when I wrote this song. I came down with strep throat, and that was really bad timing as I was visiting many cities and states in a day. My whole purpose was to talk with people and get to know them and to sing, and I felt so bad. I love the radio ministry, but I was so sick, and all I wanted to do was go home.
I had the question for God about why this happened to me at that time. I never thought about it this way before, and God wanted to lead me to this song and this truth. I climbed into a car feeling totally sick. I was memorizing Isaiah 61 at the time. As I was feeling a lot of self-pity, I remembered something that one of my old pastors used to say: "For every look you take at yourself, take ten looks at Jesus and God's promises." I had dread in my heart about the next couple of days in front of me, and I lifted my eyes from what I felt was a mountain in front of me to God who made and who moves mountains, and something shifted in my spirit.
I started quoting the verses from Isaiah 61 to my own fearful and weary heart, and I began to feel so much peace. In the back of the car at the end of a very long day I started singing the pre-chorus of this song: "Whether I'm in want or plenty, whether I'm in health or ill, our God promises His children He will." In the recording, I sound like a man with gravel in his throat, but it was so encouraging to my heart to remember that He is faithful even when we are in circumstances we wouldn't choose.
I felt Him leading me, sustaining me, and carrying me in a way that I'm not sure I would have felt if I wasn't sick. I got home and sat in that passage and sang the chorus of this song over the promises of God. I just began to weep. I hadn't written Red Sea Road yet, and this song became the chorus and refrain I wanted to sing over an empty room before anyone walked into it when I sang a show. This song is about who Jesus is and what He has promised to do.
Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?
Isaiah 61:3(NKJV): "To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."
Isaiah 61:10-11(MSG): "I will sing for joy in God, explode in praise from deep in my soul! He dressed me up in a suit of salvation. He outfitted me in a robe of righteousness as a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo and a bride a jeweled tiara. For as the earth bursts with spring wildflowers, and as a garden cascades with blossoms, so the Master, God, brings righteousness into full bloom and puts praise on display before the nations."
Luke 4:20-21(VOICE): "Jesus rolled up the scroll and returned it to the synagogue attendant. Then He sat down, as a teacher would do, and all in the synagogue focused their attention on Jesus, waiting for Him to speak. He told them that these words from the Hebrew Scriptures were being fulfilled then and there, in their hearing."
Psalm 23:4(VOICE): "Even in the unending shadows of death's darkness, I am not overcome by fear. Because You are with me in those dark moments, near with Your protection and guidance, I am comforted."
Psalm 30:11-12(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."
Ephesians 2:1(NKJV): "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins."
Ephesians 2:6(NIV): "And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6(VOICE): "Don't be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come."
Philippians 4:7(NKJV): "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
What is the takeaway message?
This is the song I've wanted to sing over myself and over people. I finished writing the song with my brother, which was a joy. I think there is an image in my head when I sing this song and invite people to sing along with me that comes right from Isaiah 61:3: "a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor." I get to say, that's us even despite all of our weaknesses and mistakes we make. God will be faithful. The blood of His Son covers us, and He has dressed us as if we are righteous.
The sense I hope people have is the stirring in their hearts about who God is and how He loves them, and out of that reminder to be able to sing His praise into any darkness--into themselves and any circumstances around them. The image for me is this group of people singing out words of light and truth into dark places. My brother wrote this line: "We will praise Him through our sadness, until the promise is fulfilled." Considering everything happening in our culture right now, I think God's resounding answer is "Me too."
I am so grateful that there is a sense that we walk together as a community remembering who He is and that He suffered and we are not alone. One day there will be healing and restoration. "Everything sad is coming untrue." I hope this song lifts people's eyes from their circumstances to the faithfulness of God and His promise that one day He is coming again.
Lyrics: Heaven came and kissed the earth
Prophets long ago foretold his birth
He became the living Word
To show the human heart its worth, oh-oh-oh-ohh
Whether I'm in want or plenty
Whether I'm in health or ill
Our God promises His children
He will, He will
He'll bind up the brokenhearted
Oh He will, oh He will
He'll set captives free from darkness
Oh He will, oh He will
He'll breathe hope into the hopeless
Help a restless soul be still
He will, He will
He came to walk in truth and grace
Man of sorrows entered all our pain
On the cross, He took our place
Then He rose up out of the grave
He'll give beauty for our ashes
He'll restore the oil of gladness
We will praise Him through our sadness
'Til the promise is fulfilled
He will, He will
Ellie is an anointed songwriter, and she has a profound way of bringing me closer to God with her poignant words, tender singing and inspirational truths. I get welled up singing along with several of the emotion-laden songs on Red Sea Road.
"He Will" has a contemporary pop musical feel. Ellie trusts in the Lord throughout the song, offering her melody and her life as a living sacrifice as she prays boldly with confidence: "He'll bind up the brokenhearted, oh He will, oh He will, He'll set captives free from darkness, oh He will, oh He will." In this song Ellie references her devotion to the "Man of Sorrows," which she revisits with the stirring closing track by that name. I like the idea that if we believe in God's willingness, and if we are walking in God's will by proclaiming His truth and living His truth, then He will! I cling to all of the promises in the song and lift my eyes to Him, exploding in praise. This song is a salvation message and moves me to reflect on just how much Jesus endured for His bride to purchase us from the grave with the words "Man of sorrows entered all our pain, on the cross He took our place, then He rose up out of the grave."
The musical vibe and inspirational lyrics of this song represent that true joy that we are called to have in Christ, regardless of our circumstances. 700 years before Jesus made the way to Heaven by coming to earth, it was prophesied in Isaiah 61:3 that He would come "to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes." Christ fulfilled that prophecy on the cross, and He promises in His Word that one day He will make "all things new." That's cause to sing at the top of your lungs, "He'll give beauty for our ashes, He'll restore the oil of gladness, we will praise Him through our sadness, 'til the promise is fulfilled, He will, He will!" Amen to that!
Watch the music video 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.
NEW!BEHIND THE SONG DEVO
Bethel Jenn Johnson #1012 - Jenn talks about Bethel's latest, "Goodness Of God"
Sidewalk Prophets Dave Frey talks about new music, the Smile Tour and much more.
Switchfoot Jon Foreman shares hope during the hurricane, acoustic music
David Dunn NRT's Paul Phillips speaks to David about his music and new album.
7 New Songs For Anxiety Songs that are related to anxiety, loneliness and depression.