Brave Ruth – Before the Brave (2012, Great Spirit)

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Hoping to find a place where your burden is lightened?  Need a respite from the weight of the world or even just the weight of your own life?  Look no further.  A song can deliver these things, and song bearing the absolute truth of God’s mercy delivers emphatically.

Before the Brave is a folk quintet from San Francisco.  Their sound is familiar but ever original with a real sense of chemistry and personality.  Led by Jason Perry Stevens, this up and coming group has certainly brought something special to the table of unplugged-heartfelt-worshipesque music.  I probably sample a half-dozen bands like this almost every week, it seems.  But Before the Brave separates themselves greatly with their newest EP from last year, called, “Great Spirit.”

In particular, the song Brave Ruth, struck a cord with me.  I’m not sure if it supposed to be about the biblical character/story of Ruth or something else.  Nevertheless, the spiritual input from these lyrics as it applies to anyone’s faith in Christ is unmistakable.  Listen to the sound of your heat voiced in a simple, yet striking tune about being brave enough to be touched by God’s mercy:

I’ve been looking for You all over this town,                                                                           I’ve been looking for truth but truth won’t come around,                                                     now my head’s in the highway and my heart’s in the clouds,                                                   and I’m glad it was You that came lookin’ around                                                                and I’m glad it was You that came lookin’ around.                                                    

so break my bones and hold my tongue, and shed my skin after all I have done,             You washed my feet in the river so sweet, I’m a restless soul trying to find who to be,           and I’ve looked for days upon days upon nights,                                                                     I’m sick of the taste of the failure to fight                                                                             now You made the Spirit to dwell in my bones,                                                                   and I want to fly over all that atones for good, 

so break my bones and hold my tongue, and shed my skin after all I have done,              and You wash my feet in the river so sweet, and I’m a restless soul trying to find who to be, and I hear Your voice as I’m sleeping at night,                                                                     He tells me to be brave, be brave I just might.

Superb lyrics, the likes of which I have not come across in quite a while.  “I’m sick of the taste of the failure to fight” stirs my lukewarm soul in a way that is painfully good and awakening.  The core of this song is the message to be brave enough to respond to God’s mercy with a kind of striving gratitude that changes your life.

We sometimes feel relief when God is merciful to us.  Relief because somehow we thought that His mercy is deserved or earned.  Other times, we feel a numbness because of the disbelief in our hearts.  God could never actually be kind to me, could He?  Still, in other times we might even feel so uncomfortable, so caught off guard, that mercy never sinks in – never wraps itself around our prideful hearts, because we won’t let it.

After all that we have done to spit in the face of God through our sin, we still have the gall to respond to God’s loving act of utter sacrifice in these pitiful, self-centered ways.

This song simply testifies to the battle of being brave enough to properly thank God for His love, mercy and grace by striving to give to Him a living sacrifice.  The beauty and the rest that we receive as Christians is that even these battles are already won by God’s great Spirit – who finishes our faith for us!

The Cross is what humbles us deeply and truly.  The Cross is what shows us how unclean and unholy we truly are.  But, the Cross never tells us to move “beyond” this place of mercy.  The Cross never teaches a life outside of dependence upon the Spirit of God or even outside of being in dire need of God’s unmeasurable mercy.

“And I want to fly over all that atones for good” (I hope I have that line right) – I take this to mean that he feels so ashamed of how much mercy he needs from God to be made righteous in His eyes, that he just wants to be done with justification/sanctification already.  But the Christian life (at least this first part here on Earth) calls us all to be brave enough to constantly hold together our need for God’s mercy and our proper response of gratitude and trying to give back.

Of course, we have nothing to offer to God – nothing except but what God created us to be: vessels of mercy and worship.  To be God’s vessel for His own glory is both the most humbling and honoring position in existence.  To be a vessel is to become a citizen of Heaven!  And yet one of the keys to being a vessel of mercy is to be brave.  Brave enough to admit my own depravity.  Brave enough to accept God’s offer of complete mercy and love.  And brave enough to live completely for Him, by living completely through Him.

When you lay in bed tonight and all the world reaches that moment of silence before you drift off to sleep, ask yourself if you can hear that Voice telling you to be brave.  Remember that His is a voice of mercy and love.  His is a voice of tenderness when we only deserve severity.  His voice is telling you and me to be brave.