People suck and disappoint. It’s in our DNA. It doesn’t make it o.k., but it is a reality of life. I had an encounter with such a reality of life today, and as promised, it sucked and was disappointing. It cut me to discover (in the most non-chalant aside I’ve been privy to recently) that a person I love and would do (and have done) anything for does not feel even remotely the same way. I learned that, to some, my flaws are too great to overlook, even as I consistently overlook theirs. And it brought me back to the ultimate lesson I’ve learned about love thus far in life: it has no need for reciprocity. Love is because it is — unencumbered by the actions of others. So I’ve been given an unexpected opportunity to choose, yet again: to be love, or not to be love? Though I know what my answer should be, as a Christian, that is the question I’ll have to keep wrestling with.
But what does that have to do with secular love songs? Well, I love romance, and I love love songs, but, lately, I find myself listening to them when I’m feeling particularly burned by love — of any sort. My song of choice as of late has been Christina Perri’s powerful ballad, “A Thousand Years.”
The song describes a person who is in love but also afraid of being hurt. After she sees her love, however, she becomes brave and realizes that everything she’s ever done and experienced in her life has led her to this point of clarity: that this person is the one she’s been waiting for and has loved “for a thousand years,” and will love “for a thousand more.” Listen:
The love described in this song is so perfect and pure that I love to get lost in it. But, then I remember that inconvenient reality that people suck and disappoint, which means their love sucks and disappoints. Which means that a person can promise — and mean it with all his heart — to have loving feelings towards you to infinity and beyond, and then “life” can happen and he doesn’t anymore. That’s the thing about people’s feelings: they’re fickle.
And then I remember a love and a promise that is from no mere person, that isn’t a mere “feeling,” that doesn’t change with the tide and isn’t relegated to a certain class of affection. When I think about this song in the context of Christ’s perfect embodiment of love and sacrifice, the lyrics transform into a conversation between me and Christ that tells the story of the shedding of my doubts and fears and documents my complete surrender to the timeless and unsurpassed love of God for me:
Heart beats fast
Colors and promises
How to be brave
How can I love when I’m afraid to fall
But watching You stand alone
All of my doubt suddenly goes away somehow
One step closer
I have died everyday waiting for you (1 John 3:16, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” Revelation 3:20, Christ says “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”)
Darling don’t be afraid I have loved you for a thousand years (Isaiah 41:10, God says: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Jeremiah 1:5, God says: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” )
I’ll love you for a thousand more (Psalm 89:33, God says: “but I will not take my love from him,
nor will I ever betray my faithfulness.”)
Time stands still, beauty in all she is (Genesis 1:27-31, “So God created mankind in his own image…God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.”)
I will be brave I will not let anything
Take away what’s standing in front of me (Matthew 26:36-46, Christ prays, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”)
Every breath, every hour has come to this (John 12:23-28, “Jesus replied, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified…it was for this very reason [to die on the cross for our sins] I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”)
One step closer
I have died everyday waiting for you
Darling don’t be afraid I have loved you for a thousand years
I’ll love you for a Thousand more
And all along I believed I would find you (Jeremiah 29:13-14, “‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD.”)
Time has brought your heart to me
I have loved you for a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more
Trusting that God really does feel this way about me like He says is really everything I need. Believing that He is “not a man that He should lie,” that He will “never leave me, nor forsake me,” that He knows me, He loved me FIRST, and will forever love me — that is enough.
I am so grateful, so comforted, and so absolutely blown away by the knowledge of the expansiveness and unchecked power of His love for me! “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Thank you, Lord, for Your perfect love that brings me one step closer to You everyday! Your love is better than life.
See? Sooo much better as a gospel song.
Here’s my list of songs that’d be better as gospel songs:
What’s your favorite love song that would make a better gospel song?