Written by: Laura Chambers (September 6, 2018)
Locks, doors, and walls are invaluable tools to keep a home and its occupants secure. This is true in a spiritual sense as well. While maintaining barriers between yourself and harmful influences is a good thing, we tend to get carried away, especially if we’ve been burned before. The same protective measures that keep us from taking unnecessary risks also restrict us from living our lives fully as God intended. Austin French encourages believers not to close their hearts to God’s work in their lives with his debut album Wide Open. Having born witness to miracles in his life and that of those around him, French believes that our desire for safety and security should take a back seat to God’s leading.
“Wide Open” admits to foolishly believing that anything we could desire or imagine would be better than what God has for us. Pridefully asserting our vision for our futures can only lead to a dead end. Instead, we must be willing to do whatever God wants us to so that we have no regrets at the end of our lives. Co-writer Matthew West is also featured on this enthusiastic track.
“Freedom Hymn” emphasizes the futility of trying to escape the enslavement of sin on our own, acknowledging that it simply can’t be done apart from God. That realization can make all the difference if we’ll only act on it. Once we give ourselves to Him, our transformation is complete.
“Why God” questions why people have to die, separate and suffer pain. Yet French doesn’t stop there; though he may not have or ever receive the answers, all of these questions ultimately serve to drive him into God’s presence seeking comfort and strength. The verses are sung with an ache to them, bringing the pain of these uncertainties to the surface.
“Born Again” testifies to the damaged state of a soul prior to being saved. God didn’t leave us to struggle alone. Instead, He gave us the opportunity to be reborn, by showing us the truth about our lives and that we needed Him to change us.
“I Need A Hallelujah” declares the need to praise God for what He has already accomplished, something we often lose sight of when we’re praying for an immediate need. Once we remember all that He has done for us, we cannot help but feel gratitude. We ought to take a moment to praise and thank Him.
“Good Feeling” describes a passionate response to the joy God gives us, the kind that motivates us to take action. His love inside of us will ultimately spill over; it’s either speak about it or burst. This song would make a good soundtrack for a commercial.
“Living Proof” offers encouragement to those who are struggling with their sins. French offers his own life as verification for the outrageously awesome claims of the Gospel. If you’re suffering and wonder if you could ever make it out of your despair, you need only look to one of God’s people to see what He’s capable of doing for you.
“In America” turns to Jesus for the answers to the hatred prevalent in society these days. French prays for His will to be accomplished in the USA, that He would bring everyone together. We must seek revival and healing from the only one capable of performing such a miracle. French blends sorrow and hope together, choosing to take the high (and narrow) road.
“Bring It To You” recognizes that neither attempting to repair our own mistakes or running from the problem are acceptable solutions. Why would we choose either of these options, doomed to fail, when we can simply give our problems to God? He will welcome us no matter our failures.
“Holy Ground” comes to a moment of realization that there’s no point in striving anymore. Upon our surrender, we can experience life in God’s presence wherever we are; every ground becomes sacred. There is true freedom when we release our hold on our own lives. We may encounter new difficulties, but we have a new source of power to tap into, thereby rendering the fight a worthy cause.
“Break My Heart” looks at pain through God’s lenses, realizing that all of our heartache only served to illuminate our need for salvation and the possibility of beautiful aftereffects. French has nothing but gratitude for God allowing him to suffer, as he was able to experience God’s goodness as a result.
Finally, “Spirit Speak”, which features Austin’s wife Joscelyn, appeals to the Holy Spirit to offer wisdom, guidance, and comfort on a daily basis. The tender prayer almost seems like a lullaby. (I suppose with them being the parents of two young children, it’s understandable that it might.)
Having an open heart is a prerequisite for being willingly used by God in any capacity. Austin French advocates a life of committed surrender that defies circumstances and emotional turmoil. Wide Open raps on the door of each listener, inviting them to throw doubt to the wind and fall headlong into the arms of Jesus.