Just one post this week, but it is a very special one. The song is quite simple and plain, instrumentally speaking. In fact, at first listen, you might toss it right into the heaping pile of modern worship songs that look, sound and feel just about the same. But, of course, I wouldn’t subject you to such torture without good cause.
First, some background on the artists. Na Band is a branch of Sovereign Grace – a mega-factory of modern worship music in recent years. My one sentence assessment of SG is that they are talented, but sometimes lack originality in their music; however, lyrically they are unmatched and incredibly faithful to what worship ought to be. In fact, their leader Bob Kauflin, is THE authority figure on what our churches should be doing with worship. He pioneered modern Christian music back in the early 70’s with the band GLAD (anyone remember them?) and he literally wrote the book (find it here) on this subject and I recommend it above all other books on Christian music. Period.
I mention Kauflin because two of his sons have followed in his footsteps, Devon – who sings our selected song, and Jordan – who wrote said tune. The song is a first person reflection/prayer/psalm about being a sinner saved by grace through faith in Christ (by the way, a much better analysis of this song is also available at the link for listening to the song):
I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way.
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave.
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will.
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still.
But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross.
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace.
Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life
Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me.
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose.
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You.
The strength to follow Your commands could never come from me
Powerful words indeed. Such humility and Christ-centeredness are consistent marks of a Sovereign Grace song. But there is more to the story of this particular tune. I mentioned Jordan Kauflin, songwriter of “All I Have Is Christ”. Little did I know that as I researched him for this blog post I came across a family blog that his wife writes. I learned that shortly after writing this song, Jordan’s two year old son was diagnosed with Leukemia. His second child has been in treatment for his cancer for the past two and a half years and is almost finished, now in remission and returning to normal health.
As I read about their story, I thought of the last verse of this song: “Oh Father use my ransomed life in any way You choose…” I wonder if he had any clue how God was going to take him up on that offer when he was writing these lyrics. Very few things in life are harder seeing your child suffer. Having Christ, clinging to a deeper connection with Christ in the midst of that kind of trial is where our lives are truly defined. There are some events in my life that deeply resonate with this kind of story.
All believers are on a course set for the same destination – to know and love Jesus Christ. To have Him in His fullness. And to have Him fully means to literally have nothing else. There might be some who would look at this and think that this is selfish of God to want all of us and not share, or that this notion is just an unattractive offer since it requires giving up everything else. If you are thinking this way, then let Paul offer perspective from 1 Corinthians 2:
2 For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the One who was crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. 4 And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. 5 I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.
6 Yet when I am among mature believers, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world or to the rulers of this world, who are soon forgotten. 7 No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—His plan that was previously hidden, even though He made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. 8 But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord. 9 That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
for those who love Him.”
10 But it was to us that God revealed these things by His Spirit. For His Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. 11 No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. 12 And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.
In short, when we cut out everything except Christ, we finally get full access to God’s deep secrets – i.e. “the wonderful things God has freely given us.” I’ve heard it said many times that when Christ is all you have, you realize that Christ is all you need. But this statement isn’t big enough. Jesus isn’t like a some survival kit that only contains the bare essentials of our spiritual journey. Jesus is the key to unlocking access to all of God!
Abraham had no clue what God was doing with his life when God asked him to sacrifice his son, but he obeyed and trusted God’s plan…and he became the father of God’s people. Paul was a zealous idiot before Christ grabbed a hold of him on the road to Damascus…and he became the primary leader and writer in New Testament times. Jordan Kauflin’s two year old son was dying of cancer, yet he didn’t through this song out the window. My guess is he clung to it with every drop of fear, confusion, rage and hurt that he could muster. As a father of two children, one of which has faced her battles with Leukemia as well, I fully relate to the struggle of singing a song like this and pressing on through life’s trials towards the goal of Christ alone – even when you feel like giving up.
It is not that everything or everyone else is meaningless. Far from it! It is simply that Jesus is the key to it all. He is the key to redemption, to being a better person, to being a better parent, friend, spouse, etc., to a future and a hope that lasts and is vividly real, AND He is the key to all of God! Therefore, it is better to say (or in this case sing), “All I have is Christ.” Because then, my friend, you truly have everything.