At some point or another, you’ll have streamed the music of the veteran contemporary band MercyMe. It could have been twenty years ago when the band’s multi-platinum single, "I Can Only Imagine” topped the Christian and mainstream charts. Or, it could have been in 2018 when the song turned into a hit movie.
Whatever your experience, MercyMe has continued to churn out hit and hit in the Christian music industry. Some notables include "The Hurt & the Healer," "Greater,” and “Even If." The band recently released Inhale (Exhale), one of my most anticipated albums of 2021.
Each catchy and worshipful song has inspirational story-style lyrics that are relatable and transparent. They perfectly depict our daily walks as believers. Inhale (Exhale) features previously released singles “Almost Home” and “Hurry Up And Wait.” But, I had the chance to speak with bassist Nathan Cochran about their current single, “Say I Won’t.”
This song has an uplifting message that is very stirring and convicting, “I'm gonna run/No I'm gonna fly/I'm gonna know what it means to live and not just be alive.”
Please tell me the personal story behind this song.
We’ve been working on Inhale (Exhale) for two years. We started penning “Say I Won’t” early in the songwriting process, but didn’t finish it. Then, we went on tour. And then, like everybody else, we had to stop touring early in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And, in the middle of all this craziness, we received grim news about one of our best friends, Gary Miracle. He was the band’s first merchandising representative and bus driver when we started 20 years ago. He fell into septic shock in December 2019, and lost his arms and legs a month later, in January 2020.
We talked to Gary about his “new normal.” We were pleased that, despite his tragic circumstances, his identity of who he is in Christ hadn’t changed. Gary’s story gave us the inspiration we needed to finish “Say I Won’t.”
In the song’s lyrics, we start with Gary’s unwavering faith. And then turn to talk about how we live once we become Christians. We try to answer some important questions. Just because life doesn’t go how we want it to go, does that change who we are in Christ? How does it affect our decisions and actions?
No matter what you’re dealing with, rest on your identity in Christ. Gary knows that God still has a plan for him. And, yes, He has a plan for you, too.
Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?
Philippians 4:11-13(NKJV): "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Philippians 1:6(NKJV): "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ."
Isaiah 40:31(VOICE): "But those who trust in the Eternal One will regain their strength. They will soar on wings as eagles. They will run—never winded, never weary. They will walk—never tired; never faint."
Isaiah 40:27-31(MSG): “Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying, "God has lost track of me. He doesn't care what happens to me"? Don't you know anything? Haven't you been listening? God doesn't come and go. God lasts. He's Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch His breath. And He knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don't get tired, they walk and don't lag behind.”
Romans 8:28(VOICE): "We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan."
James 1:17(NIV): "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."
James 1:2-4(NIV): "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."
What is the takeaway message?
No matter what we’re dealing with, “Say I Won’t” is a call to stand up and keep on living. Watch me overcome this. You can do it. Hold your head up. Maybe that’s a message we all need to hear—especially as we continue to live through this pandemic. What Christ has done for us is how we get through this life in every moment—through Him.
The message of determination is illustrated in the music video. In the video, through his grit and sheer determination, Gary puts on his prosthetic arms for the first time. He learns to write again and declares he will one day walk again.
When you watch the video, you’ll notice several people holding up signs: American football quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Christian pop icon TobyMac, as well as Pat Riley, president of the Miami Heat. You’ll see Olympic figure skater Scott Hamilton holding up a sign saying, “Say I won’t beat cancer.”
It's incredibly overwhelming to see Gary's situation. But to watch his wife and kids, what they're going through, just standing by and supporting him is mind-blowing; it feels like a whole other level of love.
Gary would love to know if anyone has been touched by what I'm going through.
Today it all begins I'm seeing my life For the very first time Through a different lens Yesterday I didn't understand Driving 35 with the rocket inside Didn't know what I had
While I've been waiting to live My life's been waiting on me
I'm gonna run No, I'm gonna fly I'm gonna know what It means to live And not just be alive The world's gonna hear Cause I'm gonna shout And I will be dancing when Circumstances drown the music out Say I won't
Not enough Is what I've been told But it must be a lie Cause the Spirit inside Says I'm so much more So let them say what they want Oh I dare them to try
I'm gonna run No I'm gonna fly I'm gonna know what It means to live And not just be alive The world's gonna hear Cause I'm gonna shout And I will be dancing when Circumstances drown the music out Say I won't Say I won't Say I won't Say I won't
I can do all things Through Christ who gives me strength So keep on saying I won't And I'll keep proving you wrong
I'm gonna run No I'm gonna fly I'm gonna know what It means to live And not just be alive This world's gonna hear Cause I'm gonna shout And I will be dancing when Circumstances drown the music out Say I won't Say I won't Say I that won't Oh say I won't Say I won't
“Say I Won’t” is an uplifting offering of praise to the only one who has the power to save. The lyrics are touching: “The world's gonna hear/Cause I'm gonna shout/And I will be dancing when circumstances drown the music out/Say I won't.”
You'll be blessed by this standout anthem. It boldly declares “We won’t let the circumstances and the hurting of this world define who we are in Christ.” Jesus can take a tragedy and turn it into a victory. That’s what Gary Miracle’s story is all about; “Say I Won’t” inspires us to not let negative situations define us.
Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to work in your life? Are you spending time listening to Him? He'll make you free. He wants to hear from you.
With everything going on in our world, we need the encouragement that God is with us and we're not alone. There is no day, no hour of the day, in which our Lord Jesus is not present. As His sons and daughters, we need to take God's love with us everywhere we go and know that His love goes with us.
Is God's Word your strength and joy? Are you trusting God, knowing that, as (James 1:17 points out, "every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows"? We can't earn grace. We can't do anything to gain life other than accepting Jesus.
Jesus loves us so much that He came down and took our punishment so that we can be with Him forever. We can call out our King of glory and He will keep us safe. This is a truth for believers to cling to.
We're not supposed to just hope it is true or turn to the Lord as only our last resort, but daily be washed by the truth of the Word of God. All of us forget to let God be in control. Stress comes from not living in faith. Life is not about the plans that we make, but about God’s plans.
Let go and let God take control. Don’t let “to do” lists get in the way of spending time with God. Are we letting God be in control, or aren’t we? Either He is in control or He isn’t, there isn’t any middle ground.
Jesus gave His life for us and we know that He believed in God’s purpose. As believers, we need to be eternally grateful that Jesus relied on God’s will and reminds us that there is a reason for everything under Heaven.
If we learn to build our lives on scripture, we would all have a rock as our foundation as we navigate our lives.
This song is an offer of true release that we can sing with all our hearts to God. The song is a great reminder that our circumstances don't define our joy.
Our position in Christ and His unending faithfulness is worthy of all our gratitude and adoration. A sincere desire to experience the presence of God can be heard in this instant classic song. You’ll want to exclaim: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." 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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