God Speaking (Mandisa)

Hey Ya’ll,

So … I just heard a gorgeous song by Mandisa called “God Speaking“. It was referred to me by someone on staff as a potential “special music” song during our upcoming “Be Still” series for Christmas.

First of all, although it does have a single lyric about “what could be stranger than God in a manger”, I wouldn’t qualify this as a Christmas song at all. It’s more about how God can use various things to “speak to us”. Because “Be Still” involves us being still and listening, it would certainly qualify for the “Be Still” theme.

But …

The second verse just ruined it for me. I realize there can (and will) be a ton of debate on this, which is why I’m posting it.

Verse 2:
Have you ever lost a loved one who you thought should still be there?
Do you know what it feels like to be tangled up in fear?
What if He’s somehow involved?
What if He’s speaking through it all?

OK, here are my issues:

#1. I fully comply that God is Sovereign. I believe that He has given us free will. So, many of the bad things that happen can sometimes be a result of our own choices, or someone else’s choices. True, if God is Sovereign, everything ultimately filters through Him. (this is how I reconcile the “could God have prevented this” question). However, I just get upset when we try to factor “God” into bad things, such as losing a loved one, and even more when we try to suggest that God took this “loved one” from us so that he could “teach us something” or “speak to us”. Sure, God can take a tragedy – the death of a loved one, and speak to us through that. He causes all things to “work together for good” … that doesn’t mean it was His plan for “all things” to happen, though. (oh, I can feel this one coming).

#2. tangled up in fear? Yep – I’ve been there. Fear is real. We all struggle with it. However, don’t try to put God and fear together. Not in the type of “fear” the author is referencing here. God is so far away from fear – he commands us throughout the Word to “fear not”. He is NOT the author of fear. Fear is the opposite of faith. Fear and God do NOT get along. The fear OF GOD is one thing … but to suggest that somehow God is allowing us to be “tangled up in fear” or even “causing us to experience the fear” so that He can “somehow be involved” and “speaking through it” … I draw the line there.

It’s a shame – such a gorgeous song. But there are tons of songs out there that I don’t have to struggle over the lyrics with. I was excited when I heard how beautiful it was. But I can’t in good conscience bring this song into our worship services. As the Worship Director, I feel an obligation to challenge the Scriptural accuracy of the songs we sing. I realize that my interpretation of Scripture and my own, skewed doctrines will possibly cloud my judgment. I’m open to that.

I’m using the embed code from LyricsMode.Com to embed the full lyrics below … but honestly, what’s your take on this?

For the Kingdom,
Fred

Mandisa - God Speaking lyricsHave you ever heard a love song

That set your spirit free

Have you ever watched a sunrise

And felt you could not breathe

What if it's Him

What if it's God speaking

Have you ever cried a tear that

You could not explain

Have you ever met a stranger

That already knew your name

What if it's Him

What if it's God speaking

Who knows how He'll get a hold of us

Get our attention to prove He is enough

He'll do and He'll use

Whatever He wants to

To tell us I love you

Have you ever lost a loved one

Who you thought should still be here

Do you know what it feels like

To be tangled up in fear

What if He's somehow involved

What if He's speaking through it all

His ways are higher

His ways are better

Though sometimes strange

What could be stranger

Than God in a manger

God is speaking

I love you

Song lyrics | God Speaking lyrics

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  • Rosemary B

    I hear her lyrics on fear differently. I did not assume she was implying GOd tangled us in fear or that he was the author, but as you said we at times will fall into the trap of fear (dispite the admonition to “fear not”). When we do he will be there to help us out of it. When she says “involved” I took it to mean he never leaves us and in the midst of our circumstances he will speak to us and help us out of the trap. I guess we need to ask her what she intended. Thanks! Rosemary

  • Hi Rosemary,

    Thanks for your comments .. I’m glad you found the blog, and hope you’ll stay around as a daily reader! The more I hear from people, the more I can see that hopefully that’s what the writer meant. Actually, a friend of the songwriter has contacted me and said that’s DEFINITELY what the writer meant, so it makes me enjoy the song so much more.

    All along, I thought it was a beautiful song, I just didn’t necessarily think I could use it in corporate worship w/o some explanation … I didn’t want to leave that up to “interpretation”.

    God bless,
    Fred

  • Sometimes I wish that each song-writer would write a little explanation of how their songs were inspired above the words. There are just too many songs I really like but still don’t know where they’re coming from. Just a thought.

  • Robert I understand what you are saying, but doesn’t that take some of the fun out of it? It is poetry, I remember sitting in class and being told that we aren’t supposed to always know what the author meant.

    That being said… yeah, I love knowing what authors meant, even if it sometimes meant something different to me.

  • I love that this conversation is still going.

    Based on what Robert just said,

    “Sometimes I wish that each song-writer would write a little explanation”

    I think Travis just touched on it a bit, but does it matter what they meant by it? Can we not take a song and use for how we see it?

  • Matt Norman

    I agree that we should use a song because of how it spekas to us or our congregation. However, I find that when I know the story behind a given song it often gives it more meaning or adds meaning where there may not have been. For instance Because He Lives. This is a song that we do rather frequently and since hearing the story behind it I find myself thinking about that story everytime I sing the song which makes the song much more powerful for me. I love the books written by Mark Hall of Casting Crowns which tell the stories behind many of the songs he has written.

  • Matt Norman

    Oh yeah one more thing. I also believe that sharing the story behind a given song, or the scriptural reference for the song can give a deeper meaning for the congregation and therefore lead to a deeper worship experience.

  • Matt Norman

    Oh yeah, one more thing (this is it I prosmise). Last Friday I saw Mandisa at Winter Jam. She did this song and talked about the meaning of it as an introduction to the song. She talked about how even when we are in a bad circumstance, even when we are hurting that God is there speaking. She talked about how God CAN use those situations to speak to us. She did not say that Gdo caused the situation in order to get our attention. Ok, I think I am done for now.

  • I think it’s really important to understand where the song comes from. If you don’t understand what you’re singing about from the author’s perspective, at least have an understanding of where you’re coming from yourself. It’s more than just “poetry” when it’s worshipping God. Worship is intentional and should have a focus. I need to know what I’m worshipping God with.

    But that’s just me.

  • I would never use a song that I knew specifically meant something that did not line up with my morals or purpose. I also would never take a song and make it mean something for worship.

    But the song in question was to be more of a “special” and many songs have a lot of room for meaning and I think could work nicely into making a point or emphasizing a topic.

  • Milana

    Hi guys,

    I have read most of the comments going back and forth but not all. So If I am repeating anyone, sorry.

    One thing that I haven’t seen anyone mention is some major events in the bible.

    Let’s look at the Israelites. God told Abraham that his descendents would go into captivity. God allowed that captivity to happen. And look at the amazing things he showed us about His love, mercy, soveriegnty, power and well to cut the list short – His character.

    And what about Job. Did not God allow satan to attack every part of His family, lively hood and physical elements of Job himself? Is this not a sorrowful event. God used it though for Job’s life personally and his relationship with Christ and as an example to us.

    and what about the history of martyrs. Would you say then that their death is meaningless. Their deaths, for many, spread the word of God, started revivels, etc.

    Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that God is the root cause of all the bad crap in the world. He gave us freedom of choice, and we are born into sin. So bad things are going to happen. But the point that I truly believe that Mandisa is saying is. God is here through it all and we will use anything – especially valleys (pain, hurt, confusion, fear) to show who he is and how we need him.

    He knows the world is broken. so he uses the brokeness to create beauty one person and one situation at a time.

    My challenge is this. Take a moment to reflect back on your own life, and even the lives of those around you who have walked a true journey with God. When was His glory most revealed. When were you most changed, and encouraged by God?

    Think about the reality of that and then meditate on the songs lyrics again.

  • Matt Norman

    Milana, I agree with what you are saying about God using the hard times in our lives. I also believe that is what the song is saying. However, the concern that Fred expressed in the inital post was that the song appeared to say that God caused the the hard times. In the examples you gave God used bad things to his good, but he did not cause them to happen, he simply allowed it to happen. I think we can all agree that God allows bad things to happen and then uses them for his good. I think some were just worried that people might take the song to mean that God would cause bad things to happen in our lives in order to get our attention.

  • Matt,
    Great observation – I totally love how this discussion has continually evolved.

    Now that i’ve heard all the discussion, I really like the song. I did hear from a person recently who personally knows the songwriter, and they verified that the writer is ABSOLUTELY NOT suggesting that God “caused” the bad things; rather, that He was there in the midst.

    Of course, that may revive the whole “first cause” argument .. but I guess my main issue all along was that because it was unclear, and “up to interpretation” to me … I just didn’t feel that it was the right fit for our corporate worship service.

    That doesn’t take away from the song overall, and I’d totally be all for someone singing this as “special music” and taking 2-3 minutes to talk about the song and what it suggests – that would be sweet. I just didn’t want to perform it as a stand alone w/o any opportunity to explain it, and in the scenario I originally blogged about, that would’ve been the case due to time constraints.

    So great having this discussion!
    Fred

  • “but I guess my main issue all along was that because it was unclear, and “up to interpretation” to me … I just didn’t feel that it was the right fit for our corporate worship service.”

    And I believe it is ultimately your right to make this call because of the position you are in. The reality is whatever we all think, you have more understanding and the authority for your congregation.

    I’ve enjoyed this conversation as well.

  • Enger Muteteke

    Hello,
    I am an Assistant Minister at a church in MD. I have heard the song, “God Speaking,” and I think it’s a beautiful song. I also love the words, but let me tell you my take on God’s sovereignty. I look at God’s sovereignty, in this song, in a different way. I’m using it to end a Good Friday service, but from the standpoint that God loves us so much that God will move heaven and earth to speak to us – especially if we don’t know God’s love. Whether one is a believer or not, bad things happen in all our lives. That’s a fact. But, I don’t think the song is saying that God causes these things to happen. I think that the song is naming things in one’s life that can happen, have happened, or will happen, and, regardless of what happens, God is speaking, “I love you,” period – all the time. I would challenge you to think about the song in this way: God loves us so much, that God speaks to us everywhere, at all times, and in everything circumstance – the death and Resurrection of God’s son, Jesus, a sunrise, a sunset, God’s beautiful creation, birthdays, weddings, but also funerals, the death of loved ones, difficult times in our lives, everything. That’s the general and special revelation of God. I listened to an interview of Mandisa regarding her “God Speaking” song. And do you know what she said? She said that she wrote the song when she was going through a time in her life full of judgment and criticism. She said she took some time to herself to listen to what God was saying to her. And when she was quiet enought to hear God’s voice, she said God spoke to her, not with a word of judgment or criticism, but simply said, “I Love You.” The song is, really, her testimony about a time in her life. I hope you are not implying that God only speaks to us and is with us when things are going great in our lives. If so, I wholeheartedly disagree with that. On the contrary, the Savior who speaks to us in the good times, I firmly believe, is the same Savior who weeps with us, advocates for us, and comforts us in the difficult times whispering “I Love You.”

  • Pingback: Reflections on Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (Intro) « Heat and Light()

  • For all those out there who still get email subscription to this old thread … my friend Aaron posted a gorgeous video to this song at:
    http://armswideopen.wordpress.com/2008/03/27/god-speaking-2/

  • Knoteboom

    I appreciate your comments especially about the losing a loved one line. I wholeheartedly agree with what you said. Thanks.