The song starts off well-enough:
“…let the King of my heart
Be the wind inside my sails
The anchor in the waves
Oh He is my song”
The achingly beautiful melody sucks me in and I sing along. Until the chorus hits me. Like a brick.
“You’re never gonna let
Never gonna let me down”
“You’re never gonna let
Never gonna let me down”
Excuse me…um…can we talk about this for a minute?
One night, while enduring said chorus from a church lobby, a young woman said to me, “What about all those people in there who feel like God has let them down?” I responded with something equivalent to, “Preach it, sister.”
Then, because it was, after all, a worship song, we had to suffer through about 5,763 more rounds of the chorus….which was long enough for me to compose most of this blog post in my head.
It starts off like this: The song is crap.
I can’t sing the words “You’re never gonna let me down” without feeling like I’m just lying with a melody. Because God has already let me down. Many times. That’s Real Life.
And in Real Life, God lets us down:
Unsaved loved ones
And before you claim “but that was God’s protection” or something else just as annoying, why don’t you think about what it would be like to say that to the mother whose son wasn’t healed while others around him were? Or the father who is raising his kids in a car because he lost his home?
Sure. Sure. You could say “God didn’t cause those things to happen.” But let me stop you before you do. Because the Bible says the Lord gives and takes away and people plan their course but the Lord establishes their steps. God’s not one to shirk responsibility so why do we try so hard to exempt Him? (Misunderstanding, fear and the comforting illusion of control…that’s why.)
God allows all sorts of rot to happen in our lives. If you have never experienced feeling let down by God then either (a) you haven’t lived long enough or (b) you’re not paying attention. Even Jesus seemed a bit let down when He asked to be spared, surrendered His will, and then cried out “Why have you forsaken me?”
So look…if we’re going to sing this song, then when we do, let’s at least acknowledge the truth that, at one time or another, many of us have felt let down by God. And chances are, we will again.
So what should we say? (I thought you’d never ask. So I asked myself. Just now. So I could answer.)
For weeks l’ve been wondering why I can sing these lyrics from a similar song:
I’ve seen you move, move the mountains
and I believe I’ll see you do it again…great is your faithfulness
But I can’t sing these lyrics:
You have never failed me yet
Then I thought, “What if my issues are with the word ‘me’?” BINGO!
I would have no problem singing lyrics such as:
You have never failed
Or You’re never gonna let
me your plan to restore all of creation down.
But as soon as you add the word “me”, I’m out. Because God has and will continue to let “me” down.
Because “me”? I’m human.
I am, by nature, selfish.
I want things I can’t have or don’t understand.
Because “me”? I live in a broken world.
Bad things happen.
People make choices that hurt me and the people I love.
I am at the mercy of a mysterious God who gives and takes away.
And, perhaps most significantly, because “me”? I am a follower of Christ.
I am called by God to a Christ-like life.
I am called to find strength in weakness, gain by losing, live by dying, and rejoice in suffering.
I’m pretty sure God letting “me” down is the core curriculum for Following Jesus 101. How else can we deny the flesh and make room for the Spirit? How else can we die to ourselves and live for Christ?
That’s Real Life, in the Right Here Right Now, and it’s riddled with bone-melting pain, life-altering disappointment, abandonment, and death.
OK, yes. Someday God will make everything right. Someday all of creation will be renewed and restored and all our Right Here Right Now suffering will be nothing compared to that Someday Coming. But God’s Someday Coming doesn’t exempt us from the Right Here Right Now. And today’s suffering is no less Real simply because it’s temporary.
Now maybe you’re one of those rare (non-existent?) people, who is so completely surrendered to God, that you never feel disappointed, let down, forsaken, forgotten by what God has allowed – or not allowed. If you are, well good for you.
But most of us aren’t like you. So give us a minute, please.
And let’s talk about dashed dreams and unanswered prayer. Let’s talk about what happens when we find ourselves face to face with a God we no longer recognize. Let’s talk about learning to trust after feeling betrayed. Where do we go? Who can help? What will make a difference? Why should I care?
I know it’s not easy – believe me I know it’s not easy – to hold these two seemingly contradictory truths at once and try to make sense out of them: that the God who lets us down in the Right Here Right Now Real is the same God who will make all things new and right and good in the Someday Coming Real.
But difficulty is no excuse. As I’ve already made quite clear, Christianity is full of contradictions:
We are followers of the Lion and the Lamb.
Worshipers of the Alpha and Omega.
We are the Chosen and the Free-Willed.
The Lord’s Servants and also His Heirs.
We win by surrendering.
We gain by losing.
We live by dying.
Hard questions and impossible truths? They should be our jam. Asking those questions and seeking the truth? That’s how we grow. That’s how we help others grow.
We were, quite literally, born (again) for this.
© Nichole Liza Q.
King of My Heart, written by Sarah McMillan, John Mark McMillan
© 2015 Meaux Jeaux Music (SESAC) Raucous Ruckus Publishing (SESAC) (adm. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com) / Sarah McMillan Designee (SESAC) All Rights Reserved.
Do It Again, written by Chris Brown, Mack Brock, Matt Redman, Steven Furtick
Copyright © 2016 Thankyou Music (PRS) (adm. worldwide at CapitolCMGPublishing.com excluding Europe which is adm. by Integrity Music, part of the David C Cook family. Songs@integritymusic.com) / worshiptogether.com Songs (ASCAP) sixsteps Music (ASCAP) Said And Done Music (ASCAP) (adm. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com) / Be Essential Songs (BMI) / Music By Elevation Worship) All rights reserved.
Amen and amen💔💗
I think it was a bit over a year ago I changed the words I sing, when this song is played, to:
“You’re never gonna let me go”.
These are words I can sing from my heart with a clear conscience.
I have felt let down several times, but also feel the Lord has carried me through, even if I didn’t get things the way I wanted and have been reduced to tears in the fetal position for a time.
Also I know of others who have felt very let down + suffered, who have felt alone and abandoned. Who tried/are trying to see God in their situation/loss, and some have given up looking for Him, knowing that in the end we will know what He knows but feeling let down in the here and now.
Yes the Christian life is one of contradictions/paradoxes. It is a life of faith, trust in what I do know about the Lord, that will carry me through what I just don’t get about how He handles certain situations, that hurt so bad.
Wow Margy, thanks so much for sharing. I love how you changed the lyrics to something you can sing honestly. Beautiful. ❤️
We always say, “I’m trusting God for . . . (a child’s salvation, a job, healing, whatever).“ What we mean by that is that we’ve decided what we want God to do, that we’ve submitted our request to Him, and we’re trusting Him to do our bidding. But trusting God means actually trusting Him with no strings attached. It’s very scary because it’s releasing our illusion of control. Anything could happen, and we have to accept it and keep trusting.
Yes, Bille! Absolutely true. I think that’s a realization very few people come to – or want to come to, because it is very scary. Thanks for reading and sharing.