Track 9 – A Way To See In The Dark

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I had this song title for a few years and thought would make for a cool album title as the rest of the songs began to take shape – it was an idea that held all the other themes together. But this was a hard one for me to bring across home plate. In fact I robbed the bone yard, cannibalizing a lyric from a song called “Certainty and Trust” that I started writing seven years ago.

It seemed like an idea that could be radio friendly–a song affirming the simple and complicated act of faith. So I brought it to Seth Mosely (a pop wunderkind who at 22 years old was asked to produce the last Newsboys record) and Doug McKelvey when we were teamed up at a songwriter’s retreat.

The question for me is always: How do I write for radio in a way that honors the audience but also gives them a little more than they expect. Lyrically, I think the song may have ended up a little darker than your average Christian radio single, so it may not work after all, but we enjoyed writing it.

I wondered if the act of closing our eyes when we pray might be more meaningful than I imagined–a willing surrender of our own vision in submission to another way of seeing: trust.

Amy, a Rabbit Room reader, left this beautiful comment on my recent post, “Little Faith.” It demonstrates the kind of seeing in the dark that the song is speaking of:

“Today is my son’s 15th birthday, except my family will gratefully remember his life in his absence because he went to glory at the tender age of five. He had a rare genetic illness that caused his bone marrow to fail and oh how we prayed for his healing. And God answered with an achingly, severe mercy. And my faith in Christ has sustained me, not my faith in faith. I have tried to wrap my brain around the Believers need to see evidence (as in healing) when faith is believing when we do not see. We saw the Lord’s miraculous hand in so many other ways than the way we hoped and asked for. Will I then trust that all things work together for good –by faith? Will I persevere in faith? Does this not bring God equal glory as the times that He chooses to heal (and I do believe He does). Jason, your voice here is so necessary and true! Thank you for articulating it so beautifully. On this day, I am blessed.”

Thank you, Amy, for articulating it better than a song could and by living it so beautifully.

A Way To See In The Dark
(Jason Gray / Doug McKelvey / Seth Mosley)

Here I am
Begging for certainty again
But simple trust
Is what you’re asking me to give
If I am saved
You tell me it will not be by sight
So when I pray
I’ll close my eyes, I’ll close my eyes

I’ll reach for your hand in the night
When the shadows swallow the light
‘Cause I’m giving up
Giving in
Once again a childlike faith
Is my only way
To see in the dark

The question mark
Hung at the end of every fear
Is answered by
The promise that you are with me here
And that’s all I’ve got
When the lights go out and I lose my way
So I’ll close my eyes
I won’t be afraid, I won’t be afraid

If every star falls and the sun fails to rise
Still in my blindness I’ll see
If you are my help, my hope and my vision
One step at a time you will lead

 

A Way To See In The Dark available on iTunes, and the Rabbit Room Store


4 Comments

  1. Elizabeth of the Kirk in the Woods

    I’m catching up on all of these songs… I’m going to go insane if I don’t get my hands on a copy soon because of all my favorites. Seriously. I’m already insane, but still.

    Beautiful, Jason. I really need that right now. I especially like the part about “closing my eyes while I pray”, to paraphrase. A lot of depth to chew on there.

  2. Val

    I love this song so much I can’t come up with anything coherent to say about it. I usually think the ‘childlike faith’ stuff is used in such a cliche way, but in this song my heart gets it.

  3. Profile photo of Jason Gray

    Jason Gray

    @jasongray

    Hey Val, thanks! I know what you mean, Doug McKelvey and I wrestled over that line specifically because we were afraid of it coming off as a cliche. We tried countless other lyrics in their, all trying to convey childlike faith without coming right out and saying it. But every option felt like we were trying too hard or being too clever.

    We thought about what a shame it is that it has become kind of a cliche – if we can leave our baggage at the door, “childlike faith” is such a beautiful, meaningful statement. But yes, for most of us it’s been lost to us as a kind of white noise.

    What we decided was that it has probably become a cliche because it has been used to easily… and so in a song about the darkness of fear, we hoped that the weight of thinking of it as “a way of seeing in the dark” might make help it come alive again a little bit – kind of how Buechner breathed life into shopworn religious words by framing them differently.

    That was our hope anyway – I hope some people experience it that way. We knew we were at risk with that lyric, but my friend Joel Hanson often challenges me to “sometimes just say the thing…”

    I’m grateful that you say that in your heart you got it, thanks for giving it the benefit of your doubt.

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