Written by: Laura Chambers (September 7, 2019)
Writing often requires more than personal experience; a good author must possess empathy and imagination – the ability to crawl inside the heart of another and understand their feelings and motivations. Such a written work tends to evoke a greater response than one where the narrator emphasizes their own opinion rather than the story itself. We see this in the news with increasing frequency; many reporters prefer to push their own biased agendas over simply stating the facts and allowing the audience to draw their own conclusions.
Leeland’s Better Word rejects a self-centered approach to worship in favor of drawing directly from the words of the One who said it first and best. The songs on this live album encourage worshippers to listen and respond in a way that turn their eyes, hearts, and minds to Jesus.
“Inhabit” reminds us that our worship creates a place for God to live, whether we’re singing, dancing, or shouting. The insistence of the lyrics creates a sense of urgency, like a bucket filling up to the brim that’s ready to overflow with waves of our praises.
“Burning With Your Love” celebrates God’s sufficiency to meet the needs of our bodies and souls and the eager response His provision and presence provokes. When we stand before Him, we lose our fearful inhibitions as love kindles a fire that burns brighter and hotter than our apprehensions and doubts.
The confident anthem “Way Maker” (which I happen to love from church) proclaims that God’s very nature is to do the impossible. He paves roads through the untamable wilderness and lights up the very blackest of nights. Any song that makes you sing along silently (this one among others) and cry a little is something special. (Try it sometime.)
The superiority of the blood of Christ to the abilities of ourselves, others, and every viewpoint is the subject of the hope-filled “Better Word”. Lies are drowned in the crimson wash of truth and perfection. Mistakes are sponged away, brokenness is made whole and bindings are loosed.
“Wait For You” vows to be wait for God and trust Him even if nothing appears to be happening, and to go with Him where He tells us even when we don’t know why. If He is intimately acquainted with us and still accompanies us everywhere, we have no reason to doubt Him. Though nothing makes sense now, it will all be explained someday when our journey is over.
“Wait Upon The Lord” gives the worshippers a moment to meditate on the promise that when we wait for God, He will strengthen us for the battle ahead.
“Wellspring” tenderly compares Jesus’s love to an unlimited water source that meets every need of the thirsty human soul. Everything else is of no importance compared to Him. Our imperfections are transformed into something He can use for His glory. The chorus’s power brings to mind a crashing river bursting through a dam and washing us away.
“Above It All” attempts to comprehend the peace God gives which, at first, seems incongruous with the circumstances. When we remember that He is above everything, the pieces begin to fall into place. Nothing stands in His way, not darkness, death, or sin.
“Rain” (featuring one of the song’s co-writers, Noel Robinson) entreats God to pour out His blessings upon us, that we might experience spiritual renewal. The desperate prayer seems to deliver its own answer, much like pulling on a pump handle in the throes of thirst draws the water up from under the ground and out into the cupped hands of the person doing the pumping.
“Where You Are” is the song of worshippers feasting on the love of Jesus, frozen in place because of the warmth and light emanating from His presence. Wherever He is, we are attracted to Him and continually want more.
“Gold” pauses to remember that Jesus takes the devil’s plans and uses them to accomplish His glorious purposes, thereby bringing Himself glory. He seals up the cracks in our lives with gold, transforming scars into beautiful, intricate designs.
“The Sending” is the cry of a congregation who are united in their desire to do the will of God, and eagerly long to be sent out to bring His message to the world. We want to be filled with His love and power so that we can share it with others, no matter what fallout ensues.
“Highest Price” tallies up the cost (Him)/benefit (us) analysis of Christ’s death on the cross. He gave up so much – His throne, His blood, His life. No one could give more. We owe Him everything – all we are, all we have, all our love and praise, our very lives, granted to us in exchange for His.
“First Love Fire” hearkens back to the early days of our salvation, when our love for Jesus burned hot. Practically every word that came out of our mouths was praise, evangelism, or worship. Whether the flames of love are flickering, smoldering, or extinguished altogether by the cares of the world, we long for our lives to revolve around Him once more, that we might remember why they did in the first place.
“Lead The Way”, the album’s energetic finale, resolves to follow Jesus’ leading, rather than making ill-advised choices based on our own understanding. We were made to go where He would have us go, no matter how silly the world thinks us to be.
Drawing from the promises and purposes of Scripture instead of human wisdom, Better Word braids together our scattered minds and wandering hearts around Christ, reminding us why we chose Him in the first place. Leeland speaks God’s word in the hopes that we would allow Him to direct our footsteps along a better pathway than we would ever be able to forge ourselves.