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It was good... until it wasn't

I was 16 years old when I wrote my first song.

At the time, I used to write quite a bit of poetry and there was this one particular poem that, whenever I read it over to myself, a tune would pop into my head. Although I didn't know how to play any instruments, I sat down at a piano one day in my parents' living room and began plunking out keys until I found the ones that seemed to sound like what I was hearing in my head.

"Wow, a song!" I thought to myself. "Wait, does this now make me a (gulp) songwriter?"

Since the time of that first song, Grace and I met, dated, proposed (me, not Grace), married, moved halfway across the country, birthed three children (Grace, not me), led worship together, planted a church, bought a house, and more. But one thing that seemed to elude us was collaborative songwriting.

That is, until very recently. As we found ourselves in January 2021 looking at the blank slate before us, asking God, "Okay, what's next?" he answered in a really interesting way: he gave Grace a song.

And I'll never forget the conversation that followed.

She started, "Wow, a song! Now what?" and I turned in reply, "It's not just a song. It's the start of an entire album telling the story of God."

* * *

Today, we're beginning a series of blogposts called "Story" because we want to share with you the songs that have unfolded before us over the last few months that communicate in song-form the beautiful story of Godfrom the Garden of Genesis, to the New Heavens and New Earth of Revelation, and everything in between.

When it comes to the gospel (the good news of Jesus), how often have you heard it go something like this?

1. God

2. Sin

3. Jesus

4. Faith

In short: God is holy, we are not, and Jesus can save anyone who places their faith in him.

It's a good message, but it's incomplete. We know this because what that little statement is trying to summarize took 40+ different authors, from several different continents, all under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, over 1500 years and scores of books to write!

And the part that especially irks me most about that broad stroke summary is: it tells the story from Genesis 3 to Revelation 20, and neglects to include the bookends of Genesis 1-2 and Revelation 21-22! It assumes the world began broken and that God only cares about the soul/spiritual realms, yet entirely misses the very foundation that God created the world good and intends to bring the entire cosmos to its fullest glory one day!

I much prefer this four chapter breakdown of this broader story of the Bible:

1. Creation - God created all things good

2. Fall - sin has broken what was originally good

3. Redemption - God provides a way in Jesus to redeem what was broken

4. Consummation - God completes what he began and restores everything to not just its former glory, but its fullest glory.

Here we find the purpose and intentionality of God's story. We see the glory and grandeur of his goodness. We see that, at its core, the world and all of us in it are meant for something more. We feel it in our bones, don't we? That this world can't be all that there is, that there is MORE, and that somehow any taste we can get in this life is simply meant to whet our appetite for what's to come. Oh, glory! Hallelujah! Now that is something worth singing about.

And sing about it we will.

What I want to share with you is the first of 12 original songs that tell the story of God, beginning with Creation. Read through the first couple chapters of Genesis (in particular, chapter 1) and there's a theme: "and it was good." The author of Genesis throws this as a refrain after each day of creation.

God spoke light into existence... and it was good.

He spun the galaxies into orbit... and it was good.

He caused trees to grow and birds to fill the world with song... and it was good.

It was good.

It was good.

It was good.

So often we forget this, but the author of Genesis is emphatic to the point of near absurdity so we don't miss it: everything began good.

And in what I would call a moment of practically divine inspiration, Grace and I sat down with Genesis 1 open before us. I began fingerpicking a chord progression on the guitar, and in a matter of minutes, Grace encapsulated in a single take the opening song for our album as you see below.

It Was Good (Creation Song)

You spoke light into the darkness, matter to existence, and it was good

You brought life, into the formless,

order to chaos, and it was good

Separated sky and sea,

you made them too, you made them too

And you brought the land together,

and made plains and made mountains and made valleys

It was good...

Fruit-yielding trees, seeds in the ground,

each one making its own kind

You saw each plant and what it would do

to bring our world to life

It was good...

Then planets set in motion, the sun to rule the day

and the moon to pierce the darkness of night

There were stars and there were galaxies thrown into orbit,

you made it so they all shine

It was good...

And the waters started trembling with each fish and dolphin

and whale and octopus and all

And the sky started fluttering as the birds filled the trees

and life burst forth into song

It was good...

Then beasts of the field and every creeping thing

found its partner in one another

But creation wasn’t finished without someone in his image

so God took the dust and made us

It was good... but not yet done

So God put him to sleep and brought from his own side

a helper fit for him

That he and she eternally

would rest in Love for all time

It was good... for them

It was very good... for us

It was very good... until it wasn’t

It's that last line that gets me every time, that it was goodvery good, even—until, of course, it wasn't. And this propels us into the next section of God's story, as what he intended to be good moves into the following chapter often referred to as the Fall.

So many of our stories are this way too, aren't they? What began as just so good spirals out of control. Paradise Lost. But is there hope? A chance for redemption? Is there time left for all of it to turn back around again?

Tune in next time as the rest of the story unfolds.

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