"I don't take for granted the privilege of getting to make music," shares Waller. "After every album I do, I wonder if it could be the last, so I really make sure I put it all out there, investing my whole heart. This is by far the most upbeat and best album I've ever done." I had the chance to speak with John about "Explosions of Light," the album's title track.
Please tell me the personal story behind the song.
In our last discussion, we discussed "Crazy Faith," my song about my family's adoption story. The second verse of that song talks about taking my wife and children to a place I don’t know, like Abraham in the Bible. And, in this new season, God has fulfilled that verse.
This past year, my family and I moved from Georgia to California. We're united with a body of believers at a local church where I took a role as a worship leader. It was time for me to do that. And, one of the first things I wanted to do with my team was a songwriting retreat. And, we did just that. We, together with my friend and producer Ian Eskelin, went to a cabin in the mountains. And, at the first retreat, we wrote "Explosions of Light."
This song was inspired by something I heard author and pastor Louie Giglio say once, "Whenever we say things like 'hallelujah,' there is literally an explosion of light into the spirit realm." I wanted to write a song that expressed how shouts of praise and declarations of truth are like explosions of light into the atmosphere. Ten minutes later, we had this song.
Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?
Matthew 4:16(NKJV): "The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned."
John 8:12(MSG): "Jesus once again addressed them: 'I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.'"
John 12:46(NKJV): "I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness."
Matthew 5:14(NKJV): "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden."
Colossians 1:12(NKJV): "Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light."
Philippians 2:14-16(NIV): "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing."
1 John 1:5(NKJV): "This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all."
What is the takeaway message?
I hope "Explosions of Light," somehow through the hand of God, might explode into churches and prepare the way for many worship songs to come. There are several Scripture references that connect to the song, including the Philippians 2 passage we discussed. When we encourage someone and engage with someone who isn’t like us and doesn’t agree with us about everything, that's an explosion of light in the darkness. Often the religious, like the Pharisees, don’t like loving people who aren't in their circle. That's not what Jesus taught us. He wants us to pierce the darkness by loving people outside the walls of our church. Love the people in the city where you live and be explosions of light in your community.
Lyrics: When you walk into the room
You change the atmosphere
Your spirit is a flame
That burns away our fear
Come Jesus, like a fire in the night
You are explosions of light
Blind the darkness, with your glory
You are explosions of light
Explosions of light
Illuminate the shadows
Where all the demons hide
Now death has been defeated
And victory is mine
Reign in glory
Reign in power
Reign in battle
The name of the song, "Explosions of Light," and the accompanying Bible passages highlight the difference between living in the darkness of the world, and living in the light of the Prince of Heaven, Jesus. First John 1:7 tells us, we can "walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." That's the message of this song and this album.
The ultimate free gift of grace is that "the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin." That's cause for true community amongst God's sons and daughters and true fellowship with Him and one another as described in John's epistle. Sometimes Christians know facts about the Bible, but don't live out the truth that the Holy Spirit is living inside of us.
Jesus said in Luke 12:49: "I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled." As believers, we can show our witness of God. And, I'm not talking about just our times of hardship. We can show our witness by leaning into Him and by showing our joy in terms of celebrating Him. Jesus wants to give us Himself and share in His light of life, and not walk in darkness. Before God created man, He created light. God sent Jesus so that we could have light return. As believers, that's our story and also our challenge, to think about how we're reflecting the light of Jesus and how we're spending our time before we die.
"Explosions of Light" is an amazing reminder of how we're called to be a light for Jesus every day and to "do everything without complaining or arguing" (Philippians 2:14). Jesus has ascended to Heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. He tells us in His Word that through the Holy Spirit, living inside of us, that "you are the light of the world, and a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden" (Matthew 5:14). This song celebrates that amazing gift. Sing along in joy, "Come Jesus, like a fire in the night/You are explosions of light." Amen to that.
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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