A Song for Sunday–The River

The River — Jordan Feliz

I know a place where we can go
To lay the troubles down eating your soul
I know a place where mercy flows
Take the stains make you whiter than snow
Like a tide, it is rising up deep inside
A current that moves and makes it come alive
Living water that brings the dead to life, oh-oh-oh-oh

Plenty of songs go right by me when I have the radio on. If I were asked 10 minutes later what I’d just heard, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. Every once in a while, though, something grabs my attention, and in those cases, Shazam is my favourite tool. It identifies songs for me, and then saves them so I can look them up later.

This is one of those songs. It didn’t just go by, it struck me as authentic, worth a careful listen, because I could hear something genuine in his singing. Curious, I checked out Jordan Feliz’s official site. This comes straight from his About page:

Some years from now, the name Jordan Feliz might be the obvious answer to a trivia question that goes something like this:

 

What artist launched his career as a hard-touring heavy metal singer, then switched gears to become a church worship leader, before finally signing a Nashville record deal and making his mark as a songwriter and soulful R&B-groove-pop artist?

Well, if the question comes up some day, you’ll already know the answer: Jordan Feliz.

So that’s where the authenticity comes from: he’s lived it. Switching gears like that means redefining yourself, first of all within yourself, then to the people around you. This takes courage, conviction, perseverance. This takes faith. I don’t know the details of Jordan’s story, and what made him do a U-turn. What matters is that he did it, and through his music, he is sharing his story and acting a witness for others.

The most inspiring U-turn in the Bible is arguably the story of St. Paul. He is one of my favourite saints, just because of the sheer nerve I believe it would have required to change direction as he did. He was one of the fiercest persecutors of the new Christians, actively tracking down believers in order to have them arrested and imprisoned. (Summary here, Bible passage here). His powerful encounter with the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus led him to change his entire life. He became an apostle himself, bringing the gospel to the gentiles. In the process, the former persecutor became persecuted himself. He was a very powerful and effective witness for God because of the change he lived out in his own life.

It’s obvious that God chose St. Paul for a special mission, but what about us? We can all be witnesses to our faith, and it doesn’t have to be in spectacular ways. The way we live our lives every day can be powerful, because

There is only one type of person God has used powerfully throughout history: He does incredible things with the people who make themselves available to him; it is the prerequisite for mission.

— Matthew Kelly, Beautiful Mercy

If we think we aren’t good enough in some way, if we worry about what others might think or say, or if we listen to any number of possible excuses, fear can hold us back. Maybe a U-turn is needed in your life–I’ve been through a couple of my own–and you wonder if you have the courage to embrace it. That’s where prayer comes in. Instead of listening to the fear, we can choose to be hopeful. We can think about what we are able to do, rather than what we think we can’t do. We can choose to be open to God’s lead, instead of relying only on ourselves. When we make ourselves available, incredible things happen!

We’re going down to the river
Down to the river, down to the river to pray
Let’s get washed by the water
Washed by the water and rise up in amazing grace
Let’s go down, down, down to the river (You will leave changed)
Let’s go down, down, down to the river (Never the same)

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