How outrageous: Writing about a love that makes no sense
Stacy Tan // November 5, 2018, 5:53 pm
Your love came crashing in
When I was unaware
Your grace a perfect storm
I have this theory about songwriting trends. If you’re a huge nerd like me and have studied Top 40 worship songs over the past 30 years or so, you’ll notice that in different pockets of time, similarly-themed songs with recurring imagery or sound or style tend to pop up together.
They are the huge hits, the kind that your worship leader can sing 20 weeks in a row for Sunday service. You know which ones I’m talking about. It’s as if there’s this uncanny, global message that crosses continents, that transcends language or style. I’ll give you a few examples.
For a while we sang about being unashamed of the Gospel, about spreading the Good News and reaching the lost. We sang songs like To the Ends of the Earth, Shout Your Fame, Tell the World, Take it All.
You took this restless soul
Found me in mercy’s sea
I’m won by perfect love
After that, we sang songs about great trust and weirdly enough, about a lot of water. We explored deep faith in songs like Oceans, Captain, Gracious Tempest, Sinking Deep, You Make Me Brave, In Over My Head.
How great is Your Love
That you’d lay down Your life
Coincidence? I think not. Our God is too big for that.
I believe that whenever a trend like this occurs, it’s a reflection of the state of the world: Our deepest desire and need, what we are most passionate about, what God wants to reveal to us in that period of time.
Songwriters listen, and God speaks.
Why am I talking about this? It’s because of this song and its title: “Outrageous”.
You called me out of shame
Out of brokenness
In you I am made whole
I think we’re moving into a new era, where songwriters all across the world are finding new ways and new words to describe God’s love for us. Before, it used to be just “great, wide, deep”. Today we find God’s love being portrayed in song as:
Unreserved. Unrestrained. Unashamed. Uncontrolled. Uncontainable. Relentless. Reckless. Wild. Like a hurricane. Thick. Tangible. Near. Mine. Engaged. Unselfish. Pure. Strong. Never failing. Never giving up. Overwhelming. Satisfying. Endless. Outrageous.
Why so many words? Why not just “great, wide, deep”?
Simply because there’s a big difference between using the word “great” and using the word “outrageous” to describe the love of God. The former isn’t less true – it’ll never be untrue – but the latter somehow fathers forth an awakening.
Furious love that swept
My fear and pride away
The cross has paid it all
I’ve seen how the choice of one word over another, how the nuance, how all the shades in between can open up worlds of meaning and revelation. If wielded well, a single word becomes a weapon, causing a generation to stop, contemplate, cry out, be crushed, be renewed.
All of the words I mentioned earlier have cut my heart with a fresh take on God’s crazy amazing love for me, exactly when I needed to hear it. Exactly when God wanted me to hear it. I think they might have done the same for you.
But hey, I could just be rambling. Perhaps it’s just that God’s love for us cannot be confined to a few adjectives. Maybe language ultimately does fail us.
How can it be?
My Saviour died for me
Redeemed my soul
No life, no death can separate us
Outrageous is Your Love
But this is not our failure. It is actually our greatest privilege, in this specific day and age, to explore the many facets of His love for us, to write song after song about it, and maybe ultimately dissolve into sweet wordlessness on the glorious day we do meet Him.
But until then, in a hard, destitute and senseless world, we must continue to write songs about a love that too does not make sense, but a love that we need nonetheless. An outrageous kind of love.