2021 was many different things for me.
It was a year of many joys, yet confusion. Moving forward, yet reflection. Busyness, yet apathy. It was the year that transitioned me from high school to college. It was the year that I experienced some of my favorite memories, but also a year where I experienced much loneliness, chaos, and stress.
I moved to the big city of Indianapolis in the summer of 2020, began working in a new environment, wrapped up high school, and began a new journey of college.
Throughout 2021, I turned to different things to help me in my walk with God, and one of those things that God orchestrated in my life was the beauty and art of music. I would stick my headphones in, close my eyes, and let the tears fall freely from my eyes as I listened to this language of song and translated it to apply to my own life.
I spent hours listening and learning. I spent hours thanking God for the blessing of song and for biblical lyrics that He sent at precisely the moment I needed them. As I reflected over the music I explored over the past year, I compiled a list of songs that encouraged me throughout 2021, and which will also be my anthem in 2022.
“Is He Worthy?”- Andrew Peterson
The world spends so much time telling us we are worthy. It places the spotlight on us because we want so badly to know that we are worthy and that we are loved.
But the spotlight belongs on Christ, whose worthiness alone restores our relationship with God the Father.
Revelation 5 paints the story in Heaven as the angels are seeking someone who is worthy to open the scroll that would bring about the end of the world and usher in the new kingdom. But no one in Heaven or on earth is worthy to open the scroll. Evil would always reign, and perfection would never be restored.
As Jesus’ disciple, John, was weeping in grief, one of the elders in Heaven told him, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that He can open the scroll and its seven seals” (Revelation 5:5).
This is what “Is He Worthy?” celebrates. The verses ask heart-wrenching questions that cause us to ache for restoration.
Do you feel the world is broken?
Do you feel the shadows deepen?
But do you know that all the dark won’t
Stop the light from getting through?
2021 showed me that the world is indeed broken. But I know that “the dark won’t stop the light from getting through.” In my darkest days, this song helped me remember that Jesus is worthy of it all, including my own life. He overthrew the grave, and He alone can open the scroll and restore the earth when the end is near.
His glorious worthiness should be my anchor in the storms of life, not my own worthiness. His worthiness is the reason I can have a relationship with the God of the universe. His worthiness is the reason I can live my life for Him. His worthiness is the reason I will one day live with Him forever in eternity.
“Turn Your Eyes”- Sovereign Grace Music
“Turn Your Eyes” takes the chorus from the old hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” adding verses and creating a new chorus. My church introduced this song to our congregation just last year, and ever since I first heard it, I fell in love with it.
The first verse beckons believers to “Turn your eyes upon Jesus” because of how wonderful He is, and the second verse says to “Turn your eyes to the hillside” where Christ died on our behalf. Verse three calls us to “Turn your eyes to the morning” and to praise Christ for His glorious resurrection from the dead that causes us to be alive in Him. Verse four rings out, “Turn your eyes to the heavens,” where Christ will return and bring His bride home to glory.
When I was tempted to turn to myself, this song called me to turn to Christ. When I was overwhelmed by my life and feeling lonely, “Turn Your Eyes” encouraged me not to dwell on my present circumstances and become discontent, but to remember Christ, what He has done for me, and that He will return to bring me home.
“Planting Trees”- Andrew Peterson
In typical Andrew Peterson storytelling style, Peterson weaves a story of trees that he planted and watched grow.
And many years from now
Long after we are gone
These trees will spread their branches out
And bless the dawn
This song compares our lives to trees. Just as trees grow and their branches spread out, so the things that we do will live on even when we are gone.
I currently work as a Kindergarten assistant at a Christian school. Last year I began to teach the Bible to my students. At first, I thought of this as merely a wonderful opportunity for me to learn and grow. But as the weeks and months went on, I realized how much gravity this responsibility carries with it. I have the responsibility to share the life-transforming truth of the gospel that has the power to change lives.
Our words and actions carry a gravity to them that will remain even after we die. As I listened to this song, I realized how much influence I have in the lives of those around me. My favorite part of the song is the bridge:
So sit down and write that letter
Sign up and join the fight
Sink in to all that matters
Step out into the light
Let go of all that’s passing
Lift up the least of these
Lean into something lasting
Each small act of kindness we do is joining the fight that we all must engage in. This song has taught me to love whom we might consider “the least of these” and to share God’s love with them. Each thing we say and do will carry on for many years to come, even when we are gone.
“Yet Not I But Through Christ in Me”- CityAlight
It is tempting to believe the fruit I produce is a result of my own works. Pride tells me I can do everything on my own.
But though I may think I can pull myself up by my own bootstraps, I know that all is done “through Christ in me.” One verse in this song proclaims:
The night is dark but I am not forsaken
For by my side, the Saviour He will stay
I labour on in weakness and rejoicing
For in my need, His power is displayed
When others forsake me, when the valley is deep and I cannot see in the darkness, God is with me. He uses my weakness to display His power.
Verse three says:
No fate I dread, I know I am forgiven
The future sure, the price it has been paid
For Jesus bled and suffered for my pardon
And He was raised to overthrow the grave
When 2021 seemed to drag on, I had to remind myself that Christ has suffered for my behalf, rose again, and has forgiven me of all my sin.
With every breath I long to follow Jesus
For He has said that He will bring me home
And day by day I know He will renew me
Until I stand with joy before the throne
Each verse tells a different aspect of the story of our salvation. God is with us in the darkest valley, He has paid the price of our sin, and He will renew us each day as we wait for Him to return for His children. Yet, in all of this, it is “not I but through Christ in me.” He alone is the One who is worthy of all praise.
Continuing in Your 2022 Journey
Music carries an emotional pull that can draw you closer to Christ or farther away from Him. Be wary what you fill your mind, heart, and thoughts with. Whether we try to or not, we learn much of our theology and ways of thinking from music. Lyrics are constantly running through our minds. The question is, what are you filling your thoughts with on a day-to-day basis?
As 2022 marches on, find music that proclaims biblical truths, that will encourage you as the lyrics bounce around in your mind throughout the days, weeks, months, and years. Tune your heart to the glorious truths found within the medium of song, praising His beautiful name.