Grace In The Depths: A Poem From How to Survive a Shipwreck

A year ago exactly I was in the middle of the hardest spiritual and emotional turmoil I can remember. A wonderful friend recommended Jonathan Martin’s recently released How to Survive a Shipwreck. It was my introduction to Jonathan. I could not be more thankful for his writing/teaching/prophetic voice. Shipwrecked: I don’t think there was a better word for how I felt. Shipwrecked. It is one of the best books I have ever read, and certainly the most important book I have read in the past five years. You can purchase it here.

This book was a catalyst for healing in me. After all the words and waves settled I began to write, and what came from that was a poem. I’ll post it here, maybe you can resonate with some of this. If so, read this wonderful book by Jonathan Martin, I promise the waves will settle soon, and if you’re at the bottom, I promise there is grace down there too.

Grace In the Depths

 Sinking into the depths
 No drinking, only thirst
 The weight of sin and separation
 No foothold, shipwrecked, only desperation
 “Save me” I cry out
 Will this truly continue?
 Is there no compassion within you
 To rescue one as submerged?
 The salt-water waves surround me
 Thundering, crashing, swallowing
 No light now
 Only darkness abounding
 My eyes grow dim
 There truly is no sign of Him
 This is the fate of the broken and down trodden
 To be swallowed up at the dirt-floor bottom

 How could I have not known?
 In Him I've never been alone
 The chaos that surrounds
 This mire pit of blood-drip sinking with no clinging
 The salt-water wrath was mine to bear
 But you turned the cup face up drinking
 Swallowing every drip-drop ounce of wrath
 It’s not in separation that I’ve been submerged
 This self-idolization must be purged
 For in the depths there is death
 Blackness met with a promise kept
 Out of chaos, light
 The waves will settle
 At the bottom of this place
 Is the end of me
 Swallowed by this raging sea
 Swallowed wrath, new identity
 At the bottom of this place you wait
 For you were plunged first
 Bearing what I deserve

 The waves will settle

Reinvention and Resurrection: The Gospel According to Brand New

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I was 14 when I found Brand New. As a freshman in high school with hormones in full swing, I ate up every word on Your Favorite Weapon. I was equally transfixed by Deja Entendu. When “Sowing Season” began on The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me I was more floored than anything else. How has this band been able to completely reinvent themselves with every record? Daisy was no different, this band was once again a new band.

It’s pretty rare to have a band that grows with you. I’ve had a Brand New album for each major milestone in my life. Two albums in high school, two in college, one as a husband and father. Each of those seasons and times was filled with struggles and flux, and each met with something from Brand New.

Science Fiction is no exception. This album is full of personal and communal turmoil, with heaps of writhing and longing to be better (or healed). Themes found on Science Fiction seem like anything but fiction in today’s world. It feels more prophetic than fiction. “Desert” presents a protagonist easily associated with a protesting White-Nationalist from last week’s Charlottesville riots. “137” sounds a lot like what the world of “fire and fury” nuclear war would look like.  Yet even better, Lacey is able to get underneath the reality of the human condition – all the longing (for hope) – and all the turmoil (at our inability) we feel. Not simply in times of potential nuclear threat, or marching of White-Nationalist, but daily. These two seemingly unreconcilable realities and pulls within our world define our daily struggle. Yet, they get after our deepest longings.

This album demonstrates the complexities that each of us has with God and ourselves. Personal turmoil is an easy theme of the album that begins with a therapy session. “Waste” is a wonderfully dark example of the reality of personal turmoil and demons. We’re “stuck like glue” to the parts of us that we hate so much, holding onto the tiniest glimmer of good at the continual plea, “don’t lose hope,” after all, “you are not alone.” Our daily lives are filled with the sense of personal turmoil that Science Fiction holds out so beautifully. That kind of writhing is known to each of us, at the dirt-floor basement-bottom. But this album isn’t all gloom, there are very real themes of hope threaded throughout.

A band that is incredibly adept at reinventing themselves and their sound may have left us all wondering if that same reinvention is possible in the world we inhabit. It doesn’t seem likely. But maybe what Brand New is after isn’t a reinvention, but a resurrection. That kind of newness all the writhing seems to be longing for is met with resurrection in a way that it could never be met with a reinvention. We needed the dark-reality-reminder from Brand New, and I’m not saying that as an enormous fan of this band, I’m saying that as a student of the human condition, as someone with the lowest possible anthropology.

If there was an album we needed this year it was Science Fiction. I confidently assert this to be the album of the year. Each of us hope to be brand new at the end of our days, our longings fixed on renewing or reinventing ourselves. In reality, we all need a little resurrection. Here’s to hoping for a resurrection for this band, who has promised to throw in the towel after this fall tour. But for those of us who are deeply aware of our faults and failures, I’ll let Jesse Lacey have the last word:

“I’m hoping that in time, you can lay down all this weight you’ve been carrying around, and maybe one day you’ll find your way to climb up out of your grave”

Must Listen List: Lit Me Up, Waste, 137, and Batter Up

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When the World is New

“When the image is new, the world is new.” — Gaston Bachelard

I remember where I was sitting the first time I heard the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song Rebels. What it was like hearing that tone and voice that solely belongs to Petty belt “I was born a rebel, down in dixie on a Sunday morning, with one foot in the grave and one foot on the pedal, yeah I was born a rebel.” It was a spiritual moment. The world was new to me. I saw Petty in a different light. A new image.

I remember how I felt about art. Typically unaffected by its beauty, irregularity of style, the different perspectives of artists, the different mediums. It wasn’t until I met my wife (who is an artist) that my perspective on art changed. The world was new. Images now filled with complexities reflecting different artists and the world they were seeing.

When the image is new, the world is new.

“Whoever is in Christ is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.”

The image for you is new. So the world is new. Today, this day, and ever. New.