If you haven't heard the song yet
watch the lyric video below
How this song was written is fascinating, but first I need tell you a strange story.
My wife Monica got a text from Jesus once.
“Hi, this is Jesus. I’m at the door. Can you let me in?
Without immediately disregarding the validity of the text, she asked me “what should I do?”
A few months prior we experienced an incredible encounter with God when the Spirit directly told us to move to San Diego to help our friend Evan Wickham plant a church.
Crazy, I know! And I totally understand if that invokes some skepticism. It’s probably healthy that it does.
For us though, it meant we were already having to reevaluate our preconceived ideas of how/when God speaks. Fast forward 3 months down the road, we’re living in downtown San Diego, still settling into our new neighborhood when the unexpected Jesus text was received.
But I had a sobering hunch.
“Hey babe, you know the apartment maintenance guy- “Chuy”… I’m pretty sure it’s his nickname. I think his real name may be Jesus?”
We thought about for a second then I added, “Either way, we should let him in!”
And we let Jesus into our home.
Turns out it was the maintenance guy. Not the carpenter from Nazareth.
However, our spirits were lifted when Jesus fixed the faucet in the kitchen. #blessed
Wouldn’t that be cool though. Like, if we actually received text messages directly from Jesus the Christ? It’s easy to think that way- what it would be like if we had direct contact with Jesus. Almost as if He was still walking on earth today.
And this brings me to the lyrics of the second verse…
It’s true. I wish He was here. Literally here! Doing Jesus stuff.
I don’t think I’m alone. But here’s the shift we can take in our thinking: as westerners, we wish Jesus was still in the flesh because we think it would benefit us.
Reality is, Jesus finished His work and (PAY ATTENTION!) He left us with “the way” we can follow in His footsteps. He lived His life to perfection.
Then He left earth (the Ascension) and now He is enthroned as King and Lord over all. The implications of this are huge!
His kingdom is continually spreading.
His love is on the move.
The Spirit is even empowering us as we partner with Jesus’ rule.
When you and I day dream of Jesus walking the earth in our day to day life, the dream is actually giving us an image of what He intends to do through us.
The Holy Spirit is now active all around the world through His church, doing things that one man in flesh would be incapable of.
We often see and feel the effects of this power, like the wind through tree branches, or the deep burning that fills our hearts with His love.
So it’s for our benefit that He’s gone. And we can rely on His teachings and The Gift (Holy Spirit) to guide and empower us every second.
His words. His love.
Does God actually make a difference in my life?
There’s a small window in the back room of our church. Every time we gather there to pray, my eyes are drawn to the trees outside. Often there’s just enough breeze to keep the branches swaying.
This is my moment of peace from the tyranny of the urgent.
The room I’m talking about most musicians know as the “green room”. Or sometimes called backstage. It’s the room where we often meet with the production team and leaders to go over details for the gathering. Sometimes it’s the place where the musicians circle up before rehearsals. In both scenarios, the room is prone to bring out the stress of preparation and the messes of life that we are in conflict with. So in some ways it’s like the Situation Room beneath the White House - there’s very pressing work to be done and nobody wants anything to blow up!
It can often sound like this…
“We start in 5 minutes, is everything ready to go?”
“We need to start on time this week!”
“Do we have the slides for that one thing?”
“Did the batteries get replaced on that mic?”
“Where is so and so? Do they know they’re leading for that part”
“What’s the transition going to look like?”
“We’re late! Let’s pray!”.
Pray? Oh man! You can imagine the amount of weight and pressure that builds up to that moment of prayer.
But that’s when my eyes instinctively drift towards the window, searching for peace and stability, longing for something human. You’d think I was an astronaut in space looking back towards earth, wanting to feel gravity again.
Those trees bring me back to stability, making me fully aware of what I need most. The Spirit of God.
“'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty" (Zach. 4:6).
Even though we don’t control exactly where or how the Spirit will move, we can anticipate the when. We can see and feel it like the wind.
His love is known in the presence of His power.
His love is spoken through His Word and Spirit.
His people are moved like the branches on a tree.
We don’t need to fear or doubt His presence. Instead, we can expect Him to come. The Spirit is with us always. Even when 2 or 3 aren’t gathered (Psalm 139). Where could we escape from His presence?
If you’re a part of those meetings before your church gatherings, you know it would be difficult to justify canceling or avoiding them. So what can you do?
Here’s one very practical idea. Our team has learned to pray and seek God much earlier in the morning; which makes the production meetings simply details. And details can easily get hashed out when everyone is in peace.
We don’t want to settle for last minute Hail Mary’s- “Lord, just bless us and everything that happens for Your glory. Amen… (unison clap) let’s go!”
He’s the God of shalom and He invites us into Himself…let’s make sure we’re in that space first before asking others to join us.
Let this song be a window to remind you of His presence- like wind in the trees. And I pray it will stir your soul to expect the Spirit to move.
When Jesus spoke to a few disciples on the road to Emmaus, they said something that I resonate with, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32).
I love that!
You know, those unexpected conversations when we know God is with us. And we know He’s actually making a difference in what will happen next.
I want Jesus to come surprise me more often, especially in the low moments, when like those two disciples, I’m a little confused and discouraged.
This song was certainly unexpected.
I was teaching a group of Worship Stream students whom I inherited with my new job when that afternoon, we split into smaller groups to get a feel for co-writing songs together. We randomly split up into groups of 2 or 3 and headed into separate rooms.
Once settled, I asked if anyone had come ready with a song idea that they’d be willing to share. One of the students had a strong verse melody and chord progression, so we started in on the lyrics, asking repeatedly- what is this song really about?
We applied all the basic principles: writing with passion and honesty while embracing tension. Not easy stuff of course, but we went for it. You might say, we had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Seriously, anything could have happened, but one thing unified our group: we all wanted more than our imaginations could give us. We wanted Jesus to surprise us with His words.
You can hear it throughout the whole song- the genuine longing for an encounter with God. The kind of encounter that will lift any weight, crush every doubt and love beyond our own capabilities.
It happened to Jacob in Bethel (Gen. 28:10), it happened to the disciples, it happened in Acts (on like, every page) and it’s happening all around the world right now.
This song isn’t for apologetics (reasoned arguments for something). We weren’t trying to boost Spiritual belief. I’m a natural skeptic and I’ll admit, I don’t easily believe something is of the Spirit quickly. Even the biblical examples above have real people in them, just like you and me, laden with doubt.
But again, there’s nothing to prove here in this song. It’s not a “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief,” but rather a prayer for the person longing for more;
more of His presence,
more of His voice,
and more of His power working among us, today!
Here's some more details behind the songwriting process of Your Love.
The song didn't happen over night. And what I'm about to share is still the abbreviated version. Songwriting is most often 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. It's a life long journey with an ever changing scenery. The process below should help encourage and inspire you to keep exploring.
In continuation from the story shared above, the students and I spent a few hours constructing the first verse.
2 hours. 1 verse.
Why? Because we challenged ourselves to create an AABB rhyme scheme.
It's not easy. Let me show you what I'm talking about. Here's the rhyming words we decided on.
words, burn, overflows, soul = A A B B
First, you'll recognize we used some imperfect rhymes. "Words" and "burn" aren't perfect rhymes. This keeps it from feeling cheesy and to too predictable.
Furthermore, we worked really hard to load the content of the lyrics preceding each rhyme. This is supper important. I would argue, it's more important than rhyming at all.
Lyrics should have layers of depth, continuity and integrity, while still feeling relatable.
A poor example being something like:
We can never be apart
You really want my heart
How could this love be
Now I can finally see
It just... hurts.
Unless you're going for the Dr. Seuss thing. #fan But one would still critique the lack of continuity above.
In our verse, there's a sense of story being told. Each line nuances the last, and anticipates the next.
On my drive home that night, I started singing what would become Chorus A. I safely opened the iPhone voice memo app and recorded some ideas so I'd remember them later.
Fast forward a few months.
I'd kept working on the lyrics and adding verses while keeping the students involved in the process. But there was something missing. I felt it. And when that happens, I've learned that enticing Evan Wickham into a songwriting session usually results in a positive outcome. 60% of the time, it works every time!
The trick is relatively easy- you simply start playing something while Evan is present in the room and he'll naturally be drawn to wherever the music is being created (Hint: he really likes Disney and Sting)
Like a cat to string! He can't help himself.
Evan is a fantastic songwriter like his brother Phil. He gets it. It's always nice to know someone like him who you can bounce ideas off of. His addition to the song was exactly what it needed.
This is when the Chorus B would arrive. Naturally, it comes after the Chorus A section- "Lord, I need Your Spirit to fill my heart again." Some people might call this the hook. It's the part that goes "with Your love... lo-ve, lo-ve".
I remember Evan said something like, "I've been listening to the new Adele record. She'd totally do something like that."
Fast forward an entire year!
We grew enough confidence in the song to start playing it live for our college group. This helped a ton!
First, it allowed us to feel out how people would respond, and to be frank, if the song was any good. Secondly, it let us develop some of the production elements like what sounds and rhythms to use. We also searched for an arrangement that best suited the song.
What did we learn? The Bridge was way too word-y.
It was really more like a 3rd verse that became a Bridge. So during the recording process we scratched the wordy Bridge it and tried something more simple.
We kept the alternate chord progression and melody because it provided a nice variation (or lift) from the rest of the song, but the lyrics got reduced to what I will call a simple praise moment- "Let Your Glory fall, Hallelujah!".
"Let Your Glory fall, Hallelujah!"
So much more I could say about all the decisions that went into this song becoming what you hear today. Hopefully you caught all the indirect tips as well like - the value of co-writing, variants on lyrical depth, or using voice memo.
Please share comments. I'd love to know what has been most challenging and most helpful for you as a songwriter.