Recently i was listening to a Spotify playlist that was curated by the developers called “punk rock powerhouses.” It was all songs from my teens and early twenties when i wasn’t a christian, but i was seeking the truth and filling the void that only Jesus can fill with things like music and bad decisions. And then I heard a gem of a song that i still know all the words too, even 16 years later. Have you ever heard the song Face Down by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus? It flew to the top of the Rock charts back in 2016. It never hit number one, i think it peaked at 24 or something, but it stuck around for over a year on the chart which was unheard of record-setting. Listening to it now as a Christian and as someone who enjoys preaching the gospel to anyone who’ll listen, i got the sense that it would serve as a wonderful narrative to tell for someone struggling in the life, specifically with seeking faith. someone, like me when the song came out.
Picture this: the story the song tells is all about a man coming to the aid of a girl he knows who is in an abusive relationship. The challenge seems to be that she keeps going back to him. The opening verses tell it this way: “Tell yourself it’s never gonna happen again. You cry alone and then he swears he loves you”. The singer is speaking to both the girl and her abusive partner because in the chorus he begins to speak on behalf of the girl to her man when he says “Do you feel like a man, When you push her around? Do you feel better now, as she falls to the ground? Well I’ll tell you my friend, one day this world’s got to end. As your lies crumble down, a new life she has found.” It seems like he is interceding for her to her man which is a blessing but the way he ends the chorus doesn’t line up with what seems to keep happening. She is right back to the abuse again. Covering up bruises with makeup and telling herself it’ll never happen again; convincing herself that he loves her and that she did something wrong and somehow it’ll be different next time. Nowhere does it indicate that the man has any remorse or that he thinks he is in the wrong. And Yet somehow in the final analysis, she is still with him and the friend is speaking, or rather singing, in vain.
Too often this is how the life of a believer is. Allow me to reframe the participants in the story a bit for you. It’ll make sense in a minute so stick with me. What if you were the girl (or guy) being abused; what if the abuser was the sins of your flesh, the lies of the devil and the temptations of the world; and what if the intercessor who is singing is Christ? You continue to get beaten down by the choices you make. And even though they seem obvious, you just can’t help it. You tell yourself it’ll be different. You convince yourself deep down that you are going to be fine, that you will eventually not have bruises and that the choices are good ones. But over and over again the sins of your flesh get the better of you. Every day the devil is lying to you and you’re believing him and without fail in your weakness the world gives you things to lust after, long for, be distracted by and to covet as you scramble every day to get it together and be successful.
But God. God is chasing after you. He is pursuing you relentlessly. He loves you and he wants to fight the battle for you. He wants to step in. Having faith is trusting Him to do that, even when you don’t know how the heck you are going to make it out. The book of Hebrews says “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” and truly this situation speaks for itself that the girl, who is clearly blinded and does not see a way out, would need to trust the friend’s help, even in her not knowing what the next step is. Can you do that?
I think you can. I think you can trust Him. Not because I think you are strong, but because I know he is strong. He has immeasurably more ability to overcome this struggle you find yourself in than you ever will have or even conceive of having. What if you trusted Him to take care of it. What if you believed with your heart that he would. And what if you believed so much that you didn’t think, but rather you knew that no matter what the outcome is, it is right for you because you know that God works everything out for good. There’s another line in the song in a refrain that says ”One day she will tell you that she has had enough” and i think that if you find yourself at that turning point, where you say to yourself “i’ve had enough” you can take comfort in knowing that the God of the universe, who knows you better than you know yourself, is right there. He is for you. He cherishes you and seeks after you and is ready to fight the fight for you. In fact, the blessing in your circumstances is that this metaphor breaks down right here. The song is about a boy fighting for a girl who is hopelessly attached to another man, but you are not exactly like that.
The breakdown is that God is not a helpless bystander who is passionate about seeing you out of your hard situation. Jesus Christ is the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the creator of all things, by which and through which all things were made that were made and in whom all things are held together and so He not only has the potential to change your circumstances, He has the potential to make you an entirely different person in an entirely different circumstance. You would be transformed. A new heart, being made new entirely from the inside out to resemble the image of the invisible God made manifest in the visible person and work of Christ.
Is that worth it? When you find yourself face down in the dirt? When you find yourself making excuses for why it is still happening and how it’ll be different next time. What if you did say that you’ve had enough and you turned to Christ. What if you cast all your anxieties upon Him? Then the reality of the last lines in the chorus would be the truth: “a new life she [that’s you] has found”.
Sinner | Saint | Servant