Written by: Laura Chambers (October 15, 2017)
The effectiveness of a resource depends greatly upon how it is used and by whom. The sharp blade of a knife, for instance, can be an instrument of healing in the hands of a skilled surgeon, whereas a criminal has the power to cause great harm. A musical instrument can soothe when played by an expert musician, or annoy when wielded by an unpracticed novice.
Even forces of nature, like water or fire, can either create or destroy. Miraculously enough, it is in the midst of the ruins where our re-creation begins. Austin Stone Worship delivers a message of persistence and resolve in the face of great hardship, grounded in the knowledge that God is using it to refine us. Everflow encourages us to stand firm amidst the waves and brave the pounding, confident that we share in the victory to come. Beginning and ending with instrumental tracks, the album is also interspersed with selahs, during which listeners are encouraged to meditate on the topics raised in previous lyrics.
“Everflow” has the ambiance of video game menu music (Gran Turismo-ish), giving us a moment to get into the mood of the album before moving on to deeper matters. “Singing In The Victory” triumphantly rejects fear, trusting God instead, secure and enfolded in His peace. We can celebrate because we are assured of new life in Christ. It’s got everything you could want in a worship song; an easy-to-follow chorus, lyrics that communicate familiar truths without sounding like an imitation, and a hopeful message. “The Center of It All” sonically returns to video game territory (Super Mario flavor this time, I think), in a prayer for personal revival that places God in the middle of everything, where He belongs. “Selah (The Desert)” slows down considerably, bringing us into the harsh wasteland to contemplate God’s presence. “Jesus Lifted High” remembers that our circumstances are comprised of more than what we are able to perceive with our senses. We must rest in what God has assured us; that our hope remains though all other things perish. In everything, it should be our desire to bring glory to Jesus.
“All Because Of Christ” acknowledges that our ability to outlast the sufferings that come upon us can only be attributed to Jesus. He came to rescue and sustain the people He created. We have not been abandoned, but find peace in trusting Him. “Selah (The Sea)” undulates and rolls like the waves being stirred by the wind. There’s an undercurrent of Middle Eastern influence to this track. I don’t know how you could concentrate on what you’re supposed to be thinking of, though, except at the beginning and end. “Your Mercy” looks back at the despair of the past and forward to the hope promised to us, undeserved mercy being the difference between then and now. Even if we go back on our promises, Jesus never does. Seeing His goodness proven, His presence continuously, and His word fulfilled proves Him alone to be worthy of our trust and our worship. “You Can’t Be Praised Enough” finds it impossible to adequately describe the glory of God, no matter how many songs we lift to Him. He is the only one who can repair the muddled mess we have created of our lives. One of the lines I particularly like is found in the second verse; “You have stretched out Your hand and stolen my grave.”
“Selah (The Air)” is menu music once again, patiently waiting for the listener to select an option. It doesn’t sound very airy to me. “Emmanuel God With Us” understands that God’s abiding presence goes with us from the depths to the heights, the calm to the storm. He gives us hope enough to rejoice when no other reason comes to mind. He does not share our limitations, but stands in our defense. Seeing our need of Him, we long to come closer. “Jesus Is Better” declares the kingship of Jesus, setting our praises on His head like a crown. His is a foundation we can rely on. He has destroyed the power of sin and death in our lives with the power of His blood. He’s better than any pain, joy, treasure, or solace – oh, that we would trust this to be true! “Benediction” falls upon us like the close of a day; a calm sky filled with brilliant stars stretches out before us, silent witness to the truths we have received and proclaimed.
When we close our eyes and sink under the water, we can either fill our lungs with liquid and surrender our souls to the waves, or we can reach out for the hand Jesus stretches out to us and bravely make our way shoreward. Everflow heartily encourages us to trust Him to calm the raging sea in His own good time, beginning with the one swirling inside our souls.