Songs for the Poor in Spirit

I can vividly rememeber weeks at a time in college when I would pop out of bed in the morning just so I could pray and nourish myself from the Word of God before class. Every chapel message, John Piper mp3, and page of Systematic Theology was sweet to my mouth, as I learned of Christ and was filled with the joy of the Lord. There were other stretches of time, however, when I was so low that every facet of my life was thrown into the chaos that remains when Christ seems distant. Relationships, academic focus, and sleep all suffered when my idolatrous heart gave itself to unworthy objects of worship. I could not bring myself to go to God in prayer, and there was no gladness in Scripture.

Somewhere in the middle of this, I would drop my sorry body onto the floor and cry out to God. In moments like these, no self-help Christianity would do. No reaching down deep and grasping for some inner righteousness within myself would do. Myself was the problem. What a sinful begger needs is grace from the hand of an all-sufficient, totally righteous God, and nothing less will do. When we come to this realization, that we are so impoverished, and that Christ is so glorious and so generous, we see and savor the Gospel in all its glory. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)

But my heart is so deceitful, and I can quickly think myself to be in some position of power, “in control” of a righteous life on my own. I am thankful, then, for songs that powerfully remind me of my neediness and God’s grace. In the last week, I have realized that one source for this is the album Kansas by Jennifer Knapp. So much contemporary Christian music is painfully shallow, but I was delighted and deeply moved as the Gospel in many of these songs washed over me. I know little about Jennifer, so cannot make an unqualified endorsement of everything she has ever done, these songs have nourished this begger’s soul. 

From “Martyrs and Thieves”

There are ghosts from my past who’ve owned more of my soul
Than I thought I had given away
They linger in closets and under my bed
And in pictures less proudly displayed
A great fool in my life I have been
Have squandered till pallid and thin
Hung my head in shame and refused to take blame
For the darkness I know I’ve let win

So turn on the light and reveal all the glory
I am not afraid
To bare all my weakness knowing in meekness
I have a kingdom to gain
Where there is peace and love in the light, in the light
Oh I am not afraid
To let Your light shine bright in my life, in my life

From “Trinity”

My mind, my conscience defiled! send the blood of the Lamb, don’t leave me in exile.
What was the promise on the Cross of Calvary? Confess the Lord and the truth shall set you free…create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a steadfast spirit within me. To my prayers you’ve always given heed. Blessed be thy God who never turned away from me.
Hid his face from all my sin, forgot, forgot my iniquity. Go on and raise your hands sing praises to the Lord.
He’s the King and He’ll reign forevermore. He died upon the cross at Calvary.
He died to save a wretch like me!

“His Grace is Sufficient”

I’ve exhausted every possible solution
I’ve tried every game there is to play
In this search for Christ-like perfection
I’m convinced I’ve only left my God ashamed
I cry, I wonder can He hear my despair
Afraid to lift my hands, afraid He doesn’t care
And if He answers and I fall again
Can I still be His daughter
Can I still depend on Him
When I’m down I search every mistake
I’m looking for new regrets
Sometimes I forget, I forget
That His grace is sufficient for me
That it’s deeper and wider than I can conceive
His grace is sufficient for me
My convictions seem to fade with desperation
My hope declines with each and every tear
My sin an anchor and this grace just an illusion
The gavel’s heavy and justice is near
Up comes the light and finds the stains on my hands
Up comes my pride, I hide
I know He won’t understand
Cause it’s deeper than deep and it’s wider than wide
Why did I ever doubt, now I’m dying inside
His grace is sufficient for me
His grace, His grace is sufficient

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About Eric Smith

Sinner saved by the grace of Jesus, husband of Candace, father of Coleman and Crockett, West Tennessean, pastor of Sharon Baptist Church, student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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