When the ruins are all we see … It only means love isn’t finished yet
Love Will Have the Final Word
Artist: Jason Gray (www.jasongraymusic.com/)
Label: Centricity Music
Length: 11 songs/42 minutes
In the CCM 35th Anniversary Issue, TobyMac, formerly of dcTalk, said, “One of the things we lose perspective of is how needy we are.” One reason why I like Love Will Have the Final Word and each of Jason Gray’s releases is that he continually reminds me of my need for grace.
One obvious example is “Don’t Know How,” where someone could mistakenly interpret the opening lines as a before Christ experience. Rather, when Gray sings, “I want to believe but I don’t know how/Trust what I can’t see but I don’t know how,” he is recognizing his utter dependence on God, particularly when “baptized in the burning flame/when the troubles come my way.”
The distorted background, sounding like tranquilized grunge, complements the desperation in the lyrics and vocal delivery: “I have no choice but to cry out for you/Please help ’cause I’m helpless now.” I relate to this brokenness and the longing for wholeness, more than unattainable perfection.
If we read to know that we are not alone, the same can apply to listening. On the title track, when Gray sings, “When the voice of fear rages in my head/Reading down a long list of my regret/When the ruins are all I see/Remind me that it only means love isn’t finished speaking yet.” It helps me to know that I am not the only one to see the ruins. I need the reminder that “As long as God is on His throne/I am carried by the hope that love will have the final word.” Haunting, echoing guitar lines add an ethereal quality.
One could easily conclude that this life is characterized by sorrow, but joy will not be absent on the morning when we wake from the slumber of the world’s long night. In the eternal scheme, joy is deeper than sorrow.
One might not think that a song with the phrase “Ha Ha” would even fit, much less convey a real sense of joy. But the opening, exuberant “Laugh Out Loud” makes it work with handclaps, mandolin, and is that the sound of a hammer dulcimer? Let me underscore: it’s no small thing to find hints of heaven in a song. This puts a smile on my face. It’s like Gray is singing, “Spring up, o well (of bliss), within my soul.” If all this isn’t enough, it’s topped off by a chorus of hearty whistling.
This is followed by “With Every Act of Love,” a similar-sounding track with a larger than life chorus of “ohs” that leads me to anoint Gray as a king of the monosyllables. This is the soundtrack for when “heaven touches earth.” As Gray sings on the bridge, “God put a million, million doors in the world for His love to walk through/One of the doors is you.” This is a triumphant vision of God’s kingdom being brought to the world through every act of love. The recording is worth having just for these first two songs alone.
If a song can awaken compassion and encourage people to be tenderhearted, it is “If You Want to Love Someone.” Gray fleshes-out what it looks like when he sings, “Somehow you had a way of seeing just how deep my wound could go/Oh, but you were never scared to run and meet me there/That’s how I know/If you want to love someone/Search their soul for where it’s broken/Find the cracks and pour your heart in/That’s what You did.” It may be his way of saying that God met him at the point of his greatest sorrow and need. It’s an example of how through developing trust we can help the hurting.
“The Best Days of My Life” is Gray at his autobiographical best. It brims with hope as do most of these tracks. Need encouragement? You can find it here.
I appreciate the cover of a vigilant, bow-tie clad Gray, clouds and sky in the background, holding a broken pot together, which contains a beautiful bloom. It reminds me of the Heavenly Father, Who ever mindful of our fragile estate, loves us as we are and not as we should be (“As I Am”). He holds us when our world comes apart.