I have inadvertently pursued a theme so far this month of songs that demonstrate the power of redemption in the context of both faith and marriage, or faith and life at least. In other words, January’s songs are much closer to earth than perhaps many of our good Christian musicians tend to be. Growing our faith is always about building that bridge between where we are at and where God is waiting for us. Of course, Christ has already done all the leg work, but manifesting what we have become in Christ in our everyday lives is sometimes another story. That is where everyday stories about redemption in real people can really help. Even better when it comes in the form of a dazzling new tune!
Today’s song is technically our first 2013 selection, since all other songs had been released before the new year (some well before). And I predict by the end of this year that many people will remember and know about The Lone Bellow. Their debut album isn’t expected to be out until the 22nd of this month, but it is already receiving a lot of buzz nationally. NPR is streaming their entire album on their website right now (which is where the link above takes you); Paste, Relevant and Billboard have already reviewed and/or interviewed them; and iTunes already has them on their pre-order list. Plus, they will be celebrating their album debut by appearing on the Conan show. So much for the quiet, indie route for these folks.
This trio hails from Brooklyn via some southern route south of the Mason-Dixon line. Their sound is New Englandish folk/country and their story is quite amazing – full of sorrow and redemption. I’ve only gathered bits and pieces, but enough to be hooked and refreshed by their creativity and authenticity. The lead man, Zach Williams, never intended to write songs or be in a band. But, at some point, his wife was in a horrific accident that almost left her paralyzed for life. As he reflected about this event and journaled, one thing led to another and eventually The Lone Bellow was born.
Hence we return to our song of the day and the aforementioned theme of redemption in everyday life, especially married life. “Tree to Grow” is a song for his wife apparently about a time when he almost walked away amidst a rocky season in their relationship. The transparency of the lyrics reveal that something changed in him and his commitment to his bride was renewed.
These lyrics are not official. Since the album has not been released yet, this was the best I could do by ear. I hope I got it mostly right:
And you told me you were sorry and you did not want to pray, you looked outside your window as I went outside away, the street it was much warmer on my bare feet than the rain, that fell out of the sky just like my thoughts fell from that day,
I poured out one more handful of the rain that fell that day, I collected it in my spare time as I walked back home that day, In the night you said you’re sorry, on the night my colors changed, I waved at you from outside as you screamed of all my shame,
I’ll never leave, I’ll always stay, I swear on all that I keep safe, A tree I’ll grow to let you know, my love is older than my soul,
? don’t smile your well-known face, your tapping shoes, your wicked grace, your precious time, your darker days, the days I left you with no space, to breathe or even think of me without the weary that I always leave,
I’ll never leave, I’ll always stay I swear on all that I keep safe, I swear, but it gets harder and harder, but my love is older than my soul.
A tree I’ll grow to let you know my love is older than my soul.
Such a beautiful and honest declaration of a devoted husband. It’s not easy. Marriage never is; but instead of leaving, he renewed his vow with “love that is older than my soul.” When I got married, my wife and I wrote our vows together with several common lines. One of those lines reads, “I love you with a love only Christ Himself could give me.” This is the core of the song, I believe.
I have good reason to believe that The Lone Bellow are Christian artists, even though it is not spelled out in their songs. Also, the well-known Christian producer and songwriter, Charlie Peacock, produced their album. In any case, the ability of us as listeners to take a song like this and see the power of the Gospel in it towards our marriages and homes is appropriate and exhilarating.
God instructs husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. Yet this instruction has always implied that it would take Christ to accomplish this. My wife and I try to repeat our vows to each other each year on our anniversary; but the reality is we have both had several days like the one in this song where we almost walked away from it all.
Commitment and unconditional love is really hard. Doing these things passionately, genuinely and consistently is impossible. Humans are too selfish, stubborn and evil-centered to be good partners on our own. Christ has made a way for us to be together with Him and with each other through His strength and grace. And remember that His power to love is older than your soul. You can do this, because He has already done the work for you. When you depend on Jesus to love other people, especially the ones that you are closest to, then you will receive the joy of having your loved ones see Jesus in you! And you’ll have your own tree to grow.