Tuesday, June 29, 2021

From My Nature Journal: “So Will I (100 Billion X)”

(NOTE, June 29, 2021: As we continue to exit pandemic mode these days, I am sensing the leading to repost a piece I shared last year in March at the pandemic’s outset. I feel it is almost a ‘checkup,’ an assessment of sorts, to see if the things I wrote then remain true now that we have seemingly endured the worst that COVID-19 could do. Its losses were many, of course, and we mourn every one of them, but we are finally able to more fully assess our losses and move forward. One caveat, however: at the time I wrote it, we were in a very unique Lent and pre-Easter season. Though that is not the case now in June of 2021, the Lenten framing continues to have special meaning to me.)

It has been quite some time since I’ve written a post about a nature song. Nature songs? Yes, there are many, old and new, songs that include beautiful or poetic references to the glory of God shown in God’s creation. And since both nature and music are two of my most oft-traveled spiritual pathways, I enjoy it very much when these two paths converge. I’ve written not infrequently along these lines, and they’re some of my favorite posts; check out the index tab called “The Music” -- above if you’re on your computer, or on the pull-down menu if on your phone. 

But I recently came across another lovely song along these lines. It is not new as contemporary songs go, but it was new to me, and eventually I’ll share a couple links to it, one that includes fantastic nature photography, always enjoyable as I listen to nature music, and another a rendition done so well by a young singer in a church. The song is titled “So Will I (100 Billion X),” and proceeds generally along the line that if all of nature sings God’s praise, who are we to hold back from giving God ours?

Now, before I continue, I need to acknowledge the ‘nature’ of our circumstances during these days of physical distancing due to the coronavirus (March, 2020). God’s creation is amazing, and, yes, the virus is part of that natural world system God has created. The virus, along with earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes and the like, are part of the attributed set of so-called ‘acts of God,’ trials we endure on this created celestial orb we call Earth, that hit us randomly and often hit us hard. We’re taking a hard hit right now. These trials are not an indication, as some think, of the lack of God’s care or love for us, but a sign of creation’s (and God’s) dynamic nature. And since all who regularly read this blog understand the important place the natural world plays in our spiritual pursuits, and in the healing of our physical, emotional and spiritual infirmities, isn’t it good of God to provide the beauty and magnificence of nature to be a healing balm for us, even if at the same time something strikes us from the dynamism of that natural world? Nature can hurt, yes, but nature far more often can heal. So it is no wonder that government officials are even urging us, while we physically distance, to be sure to get outside and let nature do its healing work. I urge my readers all the time to do the same. Get outside, and let God speak to you and heal you through his creative majesty.

Nature can hurt, yes, but nature

far more often can heal.

This is one of my motivations in sharing this post at this time. But there’s also a second. 

It is still Lent, in case the virus has caused anyone to forget. The song also has a powerful message of the love of Christ, shown in his passion upon ‘a hill he created,’ a love embraced by many who have responded to God’s invitation. 

So this brings me back to my intent today, sharing (among other things) the nature song, “So Will I.” Published in 2017 by Hillsong United, the creators of so many great praise songs, I am glad to have finally come across it. Here are its lyrics, along with the two recordings I said I’d attach: here and here. It’s not short, so queue it up and hang with it.

God of creation, there at the start before the beginning of time:

With no point of reference You spoke to the dark and fleshed out the wonder of light.

And as You speak, a hundred billion galaxies are born.

In the vapor of Your breath the planets form.

If the stars were made to worship so will I.

I can see Your heart in everything You've made,

Every burning star a signal fire of grace,

If creation sings Your praises so will I.

God of Your promise, You don't speak in vain, no syllable empty or void

For once You have spoken, all nature and science follow the sound of Your voice.

And as You speak a hundred billion creatures catch Your breath,

Evolving in pursuit of what You said.

If it all reveals Your nature so will I.

I can see Your heart in everything You say,

Every painted sky a canvas of Your grace.

If creation still obeys You so will I.

If the stars were made to worship so will I.

If the mountains bow in reverence so will I.

If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I.

For if everything exists to lift You high, so will I.

If the wind goes where You send it, so will I.

If the rocks cry out in silence, so will I.

If the sum of all our praises still falls shy,

Then we'll sing again a hundred billion times.

God of salvation, You chased down my heart through all of my failure and pride.

On a hill You created, the Light of the world abandoned in darkness to die.

And as You speak a hundred billion failures disappear

Where You lost Your life so I could find it here.

If You left the grave behind You so will I.

I can see Your heart in everything You've done,

Every part designed in a work of art called love;

If You gladly chose surrender so will I.

I can see Your heart a billion different ways,

Every precious one a child You died to save.

If You gave Your life to love them so will I,

Like You would again a hundred billion times.

But what measure could amount to Your desire?

You're the One who never leaves the one behind.

This is how Hillsong describes their song: it’s “… about God as an artisan… God as an artist working his masterpiece, a work of art called “love.” And it began with creation and goes through the whole story where it was finished at the cross. And now it continues to be rebirthed and restored in and through us here and now. The whole picture is response. If the stars were made to worship so will I… And the more we thought about it, there were endless metaphors and pictures and things that came back to this response. And maybe nothing better than if you laid your life down, if you gladly chose surrender, so will I. And if you left the grave behind you so will I. To me that’s everything, the entire story of why we’re here and our purpose and what it means to follow Jesus and live for him.” It’s a powerful song proclaiming a powerful and timeless truth.

Besides, if the world ever needed an Easter, and to know what Easter stands for, perhaps that time is now.

(NOTE, June 29, 2021: Yes, it’s still true.)

~~ RGM, Originally Shared March 31, 2020