#992 - "Lightning" by The Afters
NRT's Kevin Davis talks to lead singer Josh Havens about their new song about salvation.

Posted: October 08, 2019 | By: KevinDavis_NRT
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I've long enjoyed the hook-filled and emotive songs by The Afters: everything from their 2005 debut, "Beautiful Love," to "Ocean Wide," "Light Up the Sky," "Every Good Thing," "Broken Hallelujah," and "Battles." All these songs are from their first five albums. The band shares their hearts and processes some tough circumstances through their music. This I noticed when I spoke with members of the band for previous Behind the Song devotionals.
Fear No More is their sixth album. It was preceded by their hit song "Well Done." It's a song that proclaims, "What will it be like when I come into Your glory/Standing in the presence of a love so beautiful." 

Like the band's 2016 album, Live on Forever, these songs help remind us that we weren't made for this world. All who have put their hope in Christ know that eternity in heaven awaits when we leave this fallen world. And, remember, "I will fear no more," as expressed in their hit song, "I Will Fear No More."

The Afters' new album is filled with overwhelming biblical truth. After repeated listens, the songs get deeper into the recesses of your heart with comforting messages of the Bible that God is love, and we love, because He first loved us. 

You can have joy and worship loudly about the love of God in your life. His grace takes away anxiety, guilt, and shame. Know that being His is enough. I spoke with lead singer Josh Havens before the band's concert in Perkasie, Pennsylvania about their song, "Lightning."

Please tell me the personal story behind this song.

"Lightning" was so fun to write. We had this idea to call our friend, Bart Millard, from MercyMe, because he is such a big part of our origin story as a band. We originally played with MercyMe when we were just a local band from Texas. We were playing shows in coffee shops when they were also just a local band from Texas. We became friends with those guys and we kept in touch over the years.

Eventually, Bart called us up and said that their record label wanted to sign us. We ended up signed on the same record label as MercyMe. And they took us out with them on our first tour and we've been friends ever since. We've always wanted to write a song together.
We called Bart and told him we had this idea for a song called "Lightning," as this image of God striking us with passion and igniting this fire that burns inside of us. It's a song about salvation. 

We tend to draw from our own experiences. [Band member] Matt [Fuqua] had shared how his wife had come to know the Lord. She described it as she knew the story of the Bible and she knew about Jesus, and one day, she woke up and a fire was sparked inside of her. She wanted to live for Jesus. It totally connects with this image of, "You came like lightning and saved my soul." You can't help but dance when you hear this song.

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

1 Peter 1:3 (NKJV):  "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."

1 Peter 3:15 (NIV): "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have."

Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV): "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."

Nehemiah 8:10 (NKJV): Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."

1 John 4:18-19 (NKJV): "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us."

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."

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV): "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Philippians 1:21 (NIV): "For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."

Romans 8:11 (VOICE): "If the Spirit of the One who resurrected Jesus from the dead lives inside of you, then you can be sure that He who raised Him will cast the light of life into your mortal bodies through the life-giving power of the Spirit residing in you."

What is the takeaway message?

We need a lot of peace and joy every day. The power of God to use Scripture in the most unexpected ways connects with my older sister's story. Another one of the inspirations for this song was my sister's story.
She called me up and described her beautiful testimony. She studied archaeology and wanted to be the next Indiana Jones. She moved to Israel, became a biblical archaeologist, and lost her faith in the process. I remember having discussions with her about the historical truth of God's Word, and she stopped believing the truth.

It was hard on my family, because we were all raised as believers. Before my dad passed away 14 years ago, he gave my sister his bible. It had all his notes and highlighted passages and he said it hoped it meant something to her someday. The bible sat on her bookshelf for years. She was going through a hard time about five years ago and started having these dreams where Jesus came to her and said, "follow me." 

She called me up and I told her that Jesus was calling her. She woke up one night, and saw the bible on her bookshelf. She saw a passage highlighted by my dad and it spoke directly to her. One night, she called me and said she wanted to give her life to Jesus and asked me to come baptize her. She's been on fire for the Lord ever since. 

She went from being a skeptic to an advocate. She's now looking to speak to the science community about the truth of Scripture. We never know how God's going to use the seeds that are planted. The Word of the Lord never returns void. We've been to every corner of the world and the Gospel always works. "Lightning" is about that spark that God puts inside of us.


Lightning, lightning
Lightning, lightning
I've been dancing in the rain
Since You called out my name
You came like lightning and saved my soul
I haven't always lived in freedom
I used to wear the chains of shame and doubt
Inside my heart was like a desert
Waiting for Your rain to come down
Then like a freight train
Your Holy Ghost came
Shaking the ground underneath my feet
Your mercy rolled in
My chains were broken
And I've got joy 'cause You set me free
You came like lightning and saved my soul
Rolled in like thunder and shook my bones
Now I'm dancing in the rain
Since You called out my name
You came like lightning and saved my soul
Lightning, lightning
Lightning, lightning
Now I'm dancing in the rain
Since You called out my name
You came like lightning and saved my soul
There may be days when it ain't easy
And trouble has brought me to my knees
But You remind me of Your goodness
Just like the day
Your Holy storm washed over me
I got that joy down in my heart
I got Your peace inside of me
I got that love filling me up
I got that joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart
Lightning, lightning
Lightning, lightning
You came like lightning and saved my soul
Rolled in like thunder and shook my bones
Now I'm dancing in the rain
Since You called out my name
You came like lightning and saved my soul

Closing Thoughts

I hear in Josh's vocals  a sincere yearning for God and a thankfulness in his heart for God's mercy and grace. Only Jesus can give us our true identity. I'm completely convicted by the strong lyrics and find immense comfort in this song. 

"Lightning" celebrates the day we were saved from our sins. It causes listeners to reflect on and celebrate their salvation experience. It celebrates the freedom we have in Christ when we're born again. 

Regardless of your circumstances, you need to truly be free in Christ. Happy and filled with joy, like Paul and Silas in prison (Roman 10:17): "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes by the Word of God."

Live out the words of this song and have that supernatural inner joy. It's one of the greatest witnesses that we, as followers of Jesus, can demonstrate to non-believers. And, show them the up-side-down Kingdom of God.  This shows Christian observers who are walking through valleys that they can have the hope and the joy of God's love, living out His plans for them.
Christians are brand new people on the inside. The Holy Spirit gives us new life, and we're not the same anymore. We're new creations, and we need to live under God's authority. 

God wants to hear from you. He wants you to boldly approach the Throne of mercy and grace to receive what you need from Him. 

We were dead in our sins. And, by grace, we were saved and made alive in Christ. By stepping into the Lord's ability instead of relying on ourselves, we're empowered by the supernatural ability of God.

Are you excited about God's hope inside of you? Have you humbled yourself and asked Jesus to make you a new creation?
"Lightning"  is one of my favorite songs of the year. It's about submitting  ourselves to Him and His goodness. It's about allowing His blood to cover us and run through our veins. That's how we can "overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony" (Revelation 12:11). 

This song has become my personal anthem. And, I sing along at the top of my lungs the sincere and emotive lyrics, "You came like lightning and saved my soul/Rolled in like thunder and shook my bones/Now, I'm dancing in the rain/Since You called out my name/ You came like lightning and saved my soul." 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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