Every once in awhile an album comes along that becomes the soundtrack of a season of life. The music, the lyrics and the atmosphere match your thoughts, feelings and emotions perfectly. Later on as you reflect on this season, the songs cue as if they were designed specifically to bring pictures and words to your mind’s eye. The memories and music are irrevocably intertwined. You are marked forever by music that changes your life.
Last summer I had the opportunity to go through a 2 week journey through Israel. Just before we left, early copies of the “Beauty Is What Remains” album by Andrew Ehrenzeller were just being released. A few months prior to the trip, he had recorded the album live in my church. While the music was amazing, I was unfamiliar with the songs during the live recording so I was looking forward to digging into the album on the trip.
As we boarded the plane and settled into our seats for the 11 hour flight from New York to Tel Aviv, I put on the album. I leaned back, closed my eyes and heard these words:
“Let the dancers dance, let the singers sing to you, let the worshipers advance in your presence God”
This opening line set the tone for the album and for my heart. In a season of dryness, frustration and a fight for the affections of my heart, the worshiper in me would have to come forward. As Andrew sings Covenant, I was reminded that His banner over me is love. My spirit began to come alive as I reflected on the power of His covenant. The one that He made, the one that He keeps.
Spirit and the Bride
During this time I had just stepped down from a season of leadership at church. I led a home group for the past 2 years and now I was having a bit of an identity crisis. I was flirting with the idea that my identity is my gift as a teacher. Now that I was no longer teaching, I felt I wasn’t being effective. Without an opportunity to teach, I felt insignificant. I was wearing this title like a mask. If I took off the mask, people would see that I’m just like them. They would see that I don’t have all the answers and I don’t have everything figured out.
“We take off all our makeup, our skin was only meant to be in Jesus Messiah”
As the song Spirit and the Bride played, these lyrics hit me like a ton of bricks. As I let the song wash over me, I saw how my works mentality still hadn’t completely left me. Even though I claimed that I lived by grace, I still was trying to earn approval. He sings, “no need to dress for the occasion, cause faith is the only invitation to attend“. When Jesus comes, He won’t be looking for my teaching, He’ll be looking for faith. I had ask myself, “What is my priority?”
Condemnation is one of those things that is so hard to get a grip on. Even if you understand it in your mind, the transfer to the heart is so difficult. Sin requires payment. If you were raised to take responsibility for your actions, accepting Jesus’ sacrifice is so counter-intuitive. When I make mistakes, I feel shame and the need to pay for them. Except there’s this thing called double jeopardy. It’s a legal term which forbids a defendant from being tried again on the same, or similar charges following a legitimate acquittal or conviction.
“Not guilty, declared innocent. Not guilty, blood is the evidence. Not guilty, we have your innocence. Not guilty, blood is the evidence.”
Andrew belts out this song as an anthem over our lives in Advocate. As I sang this song over myself, I had new revelation of the price that was paid for my life and my sin. I realized that all the time I spent feeling guilty, shameful and condemned, I was paying twice for my sins.
Beauty Is What Remains
Being in the Negev desert in Israel, I saw the literal reality of what it meant to be in the wilderness. I saw the dryness of the land that matched the dryness in my soul. I was parched and thirsty for water, thirsty for answers. I cried out in the desert and asked why I had been abandoned. I asked why it felt like He wasn’t listening.
As the title song played on the bus while driving through the desert, we came upon an oasis. In the middle of the desert there were plants, trees and flowers blooming. There was a waterfall in the middle of the desert. Hot springs flowed where it seemed that there was no sign of water.
There is beauty, beauty in the struggle
There is beauty, beauty in the pain
For today will bring tomorrow and the once familiar sorrow
Will turn and testify to yesterday
Only your beauty, Jesus
Your beauty is what remains
I saw the beauty in the desert. I saw the beauty in the middle of a dry and barren land. I saw that there was beauty in my heart and there was hope in despair.
More than a fantastic album with great music and lyrics, Beauty Is What Remains has been the soundtrack to a season in my life. It was the soundtrack to the my time in the wilderness. It was the album that brought me Hope, and reminded me that hope does not disappoint. It played as I found an oasis in the desert. It has marked my heart and reminds me that as I journey through seasons of fullness and seasons of despair, at the end, His Beauty Is What Remains.
I’m giving away 3 copies of the album today. If you’d like to win it, you can do the following:
- Leave a comment telling me where you’re from (City/State)
- Like Andrew on Facebook
- Copy and paste this tweet: Win a free copy of the Beauty Is What Remains album by Andrew Eherenzeller: http://goo.gl/yV5uU (via @tonyjalicea)
Each one counts as a separate entry. Just let me know if you do the Facebook thang in your comment. I’ll pick the winners next Friday (4/15).
Check out the album at ReverbNation.