Devotions from New Orleans: “Eyes Wide Open”

Well, today is our last day of the Gathering. We’re getting ready to receive our benediction back to our everyday lives — whether that’s school or work. The hard part about leaving a place like New Orleans and experiences like the Gathering is keeping the momentum going. I think it’s safe to say we’ve all had some considerable highs this week when it comes to our faith and our time together as friends and as children of God. So how do we keep that momentum going? Today’s song can hopefully help us with that.

The line that continually sticks out to me in this song — and it’s the prayer I have for us as we come home — is this:

“God, bruise the heels we’ve dug in the ground, that we might move closer to love.” 

I think our everyday lives can be so polarized by who we are and who we want to be. We live in a very dualistic society. Democrat or Republican. Christian or non-Christian. Cool or uncool. Rich or poor. Gay or straight. The list goes on and on. But the prayer that keeps echoing for me as we prepare to leave this place and go home is that God would bruise the heels that we’ve dug in the ground against each other. Against our neighbors and against our friends.

Because the only thing worth moving toward is love.

What are the things that keep your heels dug in? What are those issues or those things that keep us from loving people? How can we loosen the grip our heels have and move closer to love?

These are the questions we’re pondering today. May it be so.


Devotion from the Big Easy: “Oh My God”

Last night the Youth Gathering started down in New Orleans, which means we have the beginning of our devotions. One of the songs I’ve been thinking about a lot since we got down here is a song by Jars of Clay called “Oh My God”. You can listen to the song right here.



The song is essentially divided up into 3 sections. The last one is the one that gets me. It’s the one that’s supposed to. The way it crescendoes and becomes increasingly intense and graphic leads us into a swelling of emotion. It’s heavy. Dan Haseltine, the lead singer of Jars of Clay writes about that last verse,

This is the rant.  This is why I, in that season, spoke those words.  I did not deliberate over these lyrics.  The song was only sung once in the studio.  These words were only written within seconds of singing.  This is a gut level grouping of words.  And it was a way of bringing the questions I had been storing up and forgetting about and remembering and fighting, to amplification.  And so it ends with questions, just as it started.

In the song is a grappling with the big questions that we ask as humans. Why am I here? How should I live? It’s the questions that keep us up at night. It’s the questions that make us call out to God in our distress.

In Psalm 18, we hear these words,

“In my distress I called upon
the Lord, I cried unto my
God. He heard my voice out
of His temple, and my cry
came before him…”

So when you are distressed and when you get cynical about this world… what are the things that you lament? What are the things that make you cry out to God? Is it homelessness? Is it hunger? Is it economic injustice? Is it issues of race?

Today, we don’t focus on answers. Just questions. Particularly, what makes you cry out to God? Feel free to comment and join our conversation.


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