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WRITER’S ROOM BY STEVE SILER
STORY BEHIND THE SONG
“NOT WHAT I THOUGHT” Album: Not Myself Anymore
Jessa Anderson is the latest addition to BEC Recordings. This mom, wife and super-talented singer/songwriter has the rare ability to approach the divine in a way that’s catchy, insightful and approachable. Here, she shares the story behind her single, “Not What I Thought,” and gives an acoustic live performance.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE EXCLUSIVE VIDEO.
BUY “NOT WHAT I THOUGHT” ON iTUNES FOR $0.99
CHECK OUT JESSAANDERSON.COM FOR MORE INFO.
SOUL NOTES WITH STEVE SILER— DIRECTOR, MUSIC FOR THE SOUL
“People have been telling me I was an innocent child my whole life but I never believed it until I heard you sing it today.”
A woman at an incest survivor conference in New Jersey made that statement to me twenty years ago. At the time she said it I knew there was something important about it. What I didn’t know was that she had planted the seed that would eventually grow into the ministry of Music for the Soul.
The song this woman was responding to, “Innocent Child,” is an example of what I have come to call horizontal worship. In other words, it’s a song that honors the second half of the great commandment. (Mark 12:31)
Every Sunday millions of hurting people go to church looking for a word of hope that will speak to the pain in their own lives. At many of these churches the first twenty to thirty minutes of the service are spent singing songs that praise God for his worthiness, holiness and awesomeness.
These songs are directed upward. They are vertical worship songs. And they are fine insofar as they go.
But what about the non-believer in the sanctuary? How does singing the average contemporary worship song speak to the person who has no relationship with God?
Praise comes out of a heart overflowing with gratefulness after experiencing God’s goodness and love in one’s own life. For a non-believer these songs speak a foreign language.
How does it speak to people who grew up in a church- going family but, for whatever reason, have experienced God as distant, judgmental or indifferent? At the very least, they might find such songs to be full of hooey; at worst, outright lies. In any event, for many, these songs don’t reflect their lived experience of God.
And what about the believers in the sanctuary? They may believe in God, love God and desire to praise God. But if they are suffering in silence—whether from abuse, addiction, family problems, money issues, disease or guilt and shame from who knows what else—praising God may be painful, difficult or just downright impossible.
That’s where horizontal worship comes in. That’s the song that allows us to reach out across the aisle and say, “God loves you and cares about you and so do I.” It’s the song that says, “You are not alone. Christ is with you right where you
are.” It’s the song that says, “No one here is looking down on you. We all need grace.”
You might think a song about sexual abuse has no place in a worship service. But since statistics suggest that one out of every three women and one out of every six boys have been a victim of sexual abuse, I would say that it absolutely belongs.
At its heart “Innocent Child” isn’t a song about sexual abuse. It’s a song about the truth that God created us, loves us and doesn’t blame us for the wrong that’s been done to us.
Way too many churches continue to fight a silly music war over whether drums and guitars or choirs in robes should be used in the worship service. This misguided battle places style over substance. And it does so at the expense of content.
When asked what the greatest commandment was Jesus said to “love the Lord your God” and “love your neighbor as yourself.”
As we seek to honor God and encourage one another, why should we do any less with our music?