I have always worshiped with this song (The Stand) as an anthem, a creed, an unashamed proclamation of my faith and love for God. While that is one valid take-away from this song, the lyrics were written in a different posture altogether. According to Joel Houston (one of the writers) it is a story of personal sacrifice…of handing one’s heart to God and saying, “My Hands are off! I give you my heart. I surrender all…all I am is yours.” The actual scripture used to write the pre-chorus was taken from Ezekiel 36:26
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.“
As I dug deeper into this verse, it took on a whole new life. Two words in particular jumped out at me–STONE and FLESH. What I found out about these words, has put me on a path toward walking and worshiping in the Spirit. The Hebrew translation of these words give an astounding picture of our hope in Christ Jesus, as well as the answer to why my heart had become hardened/unresponsive to God’s voice.
“I will take the heart of STONE…”
1. STONE: (Hebrew: ‘ebon), when used as a metaphor, this word can mean 2 things:
- PETRIFIED WITH TERROR (anxiety), or
- PERVERSE, HARDENED (sin)
There are 2 things that harden our hearts from receiving, hearing and obeying the guidance of the Spirit in us: Fear and Sin. In my case, it means taking a look at both. Firstly, anyone who has ever suffered from anxiety knows what “petrified with terror” means. It is a debilitating case of fear that one can’t shake or overcome from their own perspective. What’s more frustrating is that it is so under-the-surface it mostly takes place in your subconscious. But scripture gives us the key to overcoming (see below). Secondly, anyone who has sought after God knows that you can’t do that while you are also seeking a courtship with the culture.
“..and give you a heart of FLESH.”
2. FLESH (Hebrew: basar) – so normally this isn’t a word used in a positive light in scripture. But there is one Hebrew use of the word that is life changing. It means “KINDRED, BLOOD RELATIONS.” So God is saying that He will take the heart that we disfigured and rendered useless through fear and sin; then replace it with a working, beating one of flesh…His Son’s. This heart transplant makes us blood relatives of God the Father through his Son. But more importantly, our heart beats as one with His. His commandments become our walk. They are instilled in our hearts.
Lets look at that verse one more time in this light:
“I will take the heart of stone (that we destroyed by fear and sin)…and give you a heart of flesh (of my bloodline).”
So what can I say and what could I do
But offer this heart O God completely to You
So I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the One who gave it all
I’ll stand My soul Lord to You surrendered
All I am is Yours
(lyrics to “The Stand” by Hillsong United)
ABOUT ANXIETY: I did not post this recording because I thought it was awesome. Matter-of-fact, the voice of the enemy tells me it is not good enough. I know there are way more talented people out there with way more astounding gifts and resources who may find it laughable. That anxiety always creeps up on me. I almost refrained from posting it altogether. Anxiety can paralyze me from doing anything–and it has for way too long. It’s obedience alone that keeps me leading worship from week to week. It’s somehow finding just a little bit more faith/trust in God than the anxiety that I am daily trying to shed. But I am not alone. I see anxiety paralyzing the church around me: we have more faith that our enemies, men, death, sickness, trials and failure will prevail…more than we have faith that our Savior HAS overcome (Matthew 10:28) (John 16:33). Fortunately, there is an answer for all of us who are tired of living in fear.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (phil 4:6-7)
Next time you feel anxiety overtaking you:
1. PRAY – Start with turning to God instead of focusing on the fear.
2. SUPPLICATION – In your prayer, list your concerns. Then, list you request in faith and surrender. (James 1:6-7)
3. GRATITUDE – Thank him for what He has given you. As we magnify the Giver of All Things Good, we can see that what we perceive as loss and failure are necessary events to get us on a new path He has for us.
4. ACTION – Get out of your head and into the game! You can read the Bible cover to cover a million times, but until you get out there and actually practice it–it is not faith–it’s just knowledge. (James 2:14)