Updated: Apr 18, 2020
This is the first in a series of posts I'm entitling "What Are We Singing." The goal of the series is to examine songs we sing during worship and understand more fully what we are saying to God when we sing them. Because it can be easy to go through the motions, to just sing words on a slide, enjoying the music and cadence without letting their meaning pierce our consciousness and direct our heart to something deeper. But Jesus told us that "true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth" (John 4:23). That doesn't sound like going through the motions. That sounds like heartfelt, genuine surrender, laying it all willingly before the maker of the universe. That's what this series is about. Bringing lyrics out of shadow to where your conscious mind can embrace them and echo them back with sincere intent, in spirit and in truth.
In this post, I'm looking at Resurrecting by Elevation Worship. If you're unfamiliar with the song, take a moment to watch it.
We've been singing this song for, I don't know, probably not quite a year. I've lately been a big fan of Elevation Worship because they write songs that are pleasing to sing that still preserve a sort of freshness of content often lacking in praise music. I want to focus specifically on the bridge of the song in this post. Perhaps in a future post, I'll delve into other parts of the song, but the central refrain and titular line are found in the bridge, so I'll be starting there. The bridge says:
By your Spirit I will rise from the ashes of defeat.
The Resurrected King is resurrecting me.
In your name I come alive to declare your victory.
The Resurrected King is resurrecting me.
The first line invites imagery of the Phoenix reborn from the ashes of its own death, and the overall theme of the bridge is a coming back to life, but obviously the author is not encouraging any sort of mysticism here. The Phoenix metaphor fits the Christian life because "[we] were dead in [our] transgressions and the uncircumcision of [our] flesh, [and] He made [us] alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions" (Colossians 2:13). Our natural state, in the fall of sin, is death. Sin has rendered us unworthy before God for "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). I love the phrasing "the ashes of defeat" not just for it's allusion to the Phoenix but also because it reads to me like the old saying "snatching victory from the jaws of defeat." Because surely Satan thought his victory was secure in the garden of Eden when he caused God's creation to fall from perfection, but God took our imperfection, the worst of who we are, and in the moment of desperation when all seemed lost, rescued us to life, turned certain defeat into a victory we didn't deserve and couldn't claim credit for. I am reminded strongly of the dry bones brought to life in Ezekiel 37:
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry. He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” Again He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.’ Thus says the Lord God to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the Lord.’”
So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.”’” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
Together, we have been brought to life by the living Spirit of God, and together we stand, an exceedingly great army. And what could we not achieve, what could we fail to overcome united together in the victory of God and the power of His Holy Spirit working in us? "If God is for us, who is against us?" (Romans 8:31). And together we come alive, not to empty purpose, but with a singular determination: to declare God's victory. To make it known far and wide. To proclaim the truth of the Gospel, that "Death is swallowed up in victory" (I Corinthians 15:54) and that "we [can] overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37), not because of anything in ourselves, but solely because of the Father's good pleasure.
And the story of this coming to life is not only a one time phenomenon. Yes, we were rescued from our hopeless state and justified, made right before God, as a result of faith, and yes, we have a place in heaven as a result of that victory secured for us, but there is another salvation, the daily renewal of our faith by sanctification because though we have victory through Christ Jesus, still we "find . . . the principle that evil is present in [us], . . . who [want] to do good. . . . [and we] see a different law in the members of [our] body, waging war against the law of [our] mind and making [us prisoners] of the law of sin which is in [our] members" (Romans 7:21-23). The King who has been resurrected must continually resurrect us from the death of our nature, from the sin present in our lives that we can never fully shed until we are in glory with God. And the resurrecting both that God has done and still is doing is worth declaring because there is power in the breaking of the bonds of sin. What inspiration we see in those who overcome addictions and find the courage to share their struggles! It reminds us that sin has been vanquished and death conquered and that true freedom, true victory can be attained through the power of the Spirit working in us. But every triumph over sin, no matter how seemingly mundane or trivial, is evidence of God's power in us, proof that we are being saved daily, that the promise "that He who began a good work in [us] will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus" is true and alive in our lives. Now that is a song worth singing, a story worth telling! Don't divest the rest of the body of a chance to celebrate that because you think your victory small and ignoble. Every victory is God's victory.
That is the story of this song. We all have a story of defeat; death reigned in our lives until, from the wreckage, the very making of our destruction, God pulled us out, rescued us to life, and gave us hope. And we continue, day by day, to be resurrected, becoming more and more like Him in every victory, aware that our story has power, the power of God to begin the resurrecting in another, to bring them to realization of the ashes of their lives, and their need, their utter desperation, for a Savior to rescue them.