BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#967 - "Awakening" by Amanda Lindsey Cook
NRT's Kevin Davis talks with Amanda Lindsey Cook about her passionate new worship song.
 


BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS, #967 -
Posted: April 18, 2019 | By: KevinDavis_NRT
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I first heard Amanda Lindsey Cook sing on Bethel Music's Be Lifted High with her song, "I Will Exalt." But, it was her song "You Make Me Brave," on Bethel Music's You Make Me Brave, that captivated me. She also captivated me with her confessional and prayerful vocal style. We've previously discussed her songs, "You Don't Miss a Thing," "Heroes," and "Shepherd."
 
Give her new album, House on a Hill, some deep listens and you'll love it. For me, I hang on every single word; The stirring vocals, prayerful lyrics and musical arrangements are absolutely breathtaking. This is a great new collection of very heartfelt and introspective songs. This album is reflective and worshipful and a great addition to your worship collection. I had the chance to speak with Amanda about "Awakening."


Please tell me the personal story behind the song.

As with most songs, I'm always a little bit surprised and thunderstruck by a concept first, before it becomes a song. That's how this song started. When I treat my life as a book being written, more and more songwriting feels like field notes for me. The more I deal with my ego, absolve and transform away from my ego, and get that out of the way, then I can experience being human and taking notes. That's what songwriting feels like for me. This is a lot more fun, instead of trying to make a great song; it's more like the experience of living. 

I tend to ponder concepts for a very long time and visualize them for my own clarity. Music is a form of therapy for me and creates a resonance and boomerang effect where it comes back to me and teaches me what the song really means. I don't have song stories as much. But I'm surrounded by amazing friends who are geniuses when it comes to lyrical and musical concepts, based on me talking in paragraphs with them. From our conversations, we write lyrics, go to a piano, and craft songs.
 
For this song, I was living in a literal house on a hill. And Steffany Gretzinger flew out to live with me and to write songs together to canonize this season for the next time I forget it. With "Awakening," I had been thunderstruck by the concept that we regenerate while we are sleeping. Essentially, we are resurrected every single morning as things in our bodies die and come back to life each day. I had been living in this house and decided to give mornings a try, which I don't normally do. I wanted to give the stillness of morning a try. I left the curtains open let myself wake up with the sun. 

I woke up, gasping at the beautiful sunrise. In that sleepy and vulnerable state of first wake, it hit me that the sun has been rising forever. It's been here the whole time, I just don't normally see it. How much more is happening around me that I'm not realizing? Daily resurrection and sunrises and God's grace all hit me at the same time. That's what inspired this song.

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG): "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

Lamentations 3:22-23 (VOICE): "How enduring is God's loyal love; the Eternal has inexhaustible compassion. Here they are, every morning, new. Your faithfulness, God, is as broad as the day."
 
Psalm 57:8 (NLT): "Wake up, my heart. Wake up, O lyre and harp. I will wake the dawn with my song."
 
Hebrews 11:1 (NLT): "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see."

2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV): "For we walk by faith, not by sight."

Psalm 119:105 (NKJV): "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."

Proverbs 13:12 (NKJV): "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life."
 
Psalm 46:10 (NKJV): "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

1 Kings 19:12 (KJV): "And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice."

John 14:16 (NKJV): "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever."

What is the takeaway message?

I've been sustained by the energy and breath of God every day of my life, and this song celebrates that fact. "Awakening" feels bigger than my own experience. It's meant to serve other people and all of our awakenings and how it looks for each of us. Sometimes, it is gentle and sometimes it is a crash landing. It happens every day. I feel grateful for this song. I think sometimes the gift of us going into the spaces inside ourselves, with the eyes of Christ looking deep inside of us, is that He heals us in a way we can't on our own. 

I love the language of "you'll recover your life" from that Matthew 11 passage we discussed. Jesus brings things back together and puts the pieces of our lives back together and integrates our humanity and our spirit and our hearts and our minds and He heals us by dignifying all of the experiences we have in being human. That includes every emotion, trauma, breakdown, anxiety, and grief. For me, I believe that Christ experienced that for us on the Cross. 

We shouldn't be afraid to enter our own sadness and emotions. It's very internal and I think all of us are encouraged to self-examine. The rhythms of rest for me are about being unafraid of what we'll find in the consciousness of Christ. There's no shame in the eyes of Christ looking back at you. When there's no shame, there's no need to rewrite the facts of our stories. Christ is here now, always and forever, with us. To rest in that is enough.
 
Lyrics:
Stuck inside a house I built
Locked the doors and closed the shutters
With no strength left to cry for help
I hid in bed under the covers
 
Stuck inside a shade of blue
Sadness was my only comfort
I didn't know that only You
Could fill my world with all the colors
 
This is my awakening
That while my heart was fast asleep
You were resurrecting me
 
I thought that I would never breathe
I thought the pain would never leave
But You're redeeming everything
 
Now there's a dawn at every turn
You speak to me in new beginnings
A ray of sun to heal the hurt
The music stops but You're still singing
 
This is my awakening
That while my heart was fast asleep
You were resurrecting me
 
I thought that I would never breathe
I thought the pain would never leave
But You're redeeming everything
 
This is my awakening
I'm never going back to sleep
How could I after what I've seen
 
This is my awakening
There's color now in everything
Color now in everything
 
This is my awakening
I'm never going back to sleep
How could I after what I've seen
 
This is my awakening
There's color now in everything
Color now in everything


Closing Thoughts

"Awakening" is an unashamed declaration of faith about waking up to God's mercies every morning. Amanda tenderly sings, "You're redeeming everything," about her source of hope, Jesus. Each song on her new album, House on a Hill, is a worshipful response to her Savior reflecting the blessed hope of someone, who understands the Good News of grace. This song is a gorgeous faith statement. 

"Awakening" compels me to worship Jesus and profess my own appreciation for His pure love. The song is a gorgeous profession of Amanda's sincere desire to serve Jesus. I get completely overwhelmed by the song's emotion. Right from the opening notes you'll be captivated by the melody and message. Amanda pours her heart out in every single song on the album itself, which allows listeners to eavesdrop on her expressing her deep feelings, insecurities, and desires for holiness directly to God.
 
This song, as well as the album, celebrates the freedom we are promised in God's Holy Word (2 Corinthians 5:17): "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 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. Believing the words of this song is a great way to work on the disciplines of self-examination and prayer. It takes a while to get quiet in our culture. Unplug, and go deeper with Jesus.
 
So many people can relate to the message, and the song convicts me to know in my heart the biblical truth from Jeremiah in Lamentations 3:22-23. God's mercy is new each day, and it is not based on our performance or what we can do for God. He pours out His mercy despite what we've done, and there's nothing we can do except trust in His Son Jesus. 

We can't earn Heaven, it's only through complete surrender to Jesus and putting all of our hope in Him that we can be saved. Amanda has been writing and breathing her breath, given to her by God, into anointed new songs for the church. Sing this song in spirit and in truth to the Lord and ask to be in His presence and to hear His voice. As believers we need to take time to "be still and know that He is God." If we aren't spending time with God, and cutting out the noise of life, you can't be attentive to His "still small voice."
 
This song truly touches me in many ways. I know that many of us struggle with the idea that our past and present mistakes are unforgivable, yet the Bible tells us that isn't true. Read that great translation in The Message of Matthew 11:28-30. Jesus tells us: "Come to Me. Get away with Me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest."

What an amazing comfort to know that when we struggle with our pain, pride and unloving natures, we can all lay it at the feet of Jesus. As we get ready for Easter, this is a great song to sing to our Lord and Savior as a personal prayer of thanks and praise. You'll be blessed by this powerful song, which is a stand-out anthem with a convicting declaration: "I thought that I would never breathe/I thought the pain would never leave/But You're redeeming everything." 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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