Release Date: June 9th 2017
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- I Have This Hope (Ailo Remix)
“…sometimes in our culture, we want to promise people that God is going to do the miraculous. The thing is, I want a faith that does do that. I want a faith that believes God is always going to work a miracle, and that He’s going to heal. I also want a faith that keeps believing God is good even when I’m waiting on the miracle. We were drawn to Isaiah 43, where it says “fear not,” the most repeated command in the Bible, and “I have redeemed you, I have called you by name.” Then He says, “When you pass through the waters they will not overwhelm you. When you pass through the fire, it will not consume you. I will be with you in the midst.” I have pointed out that I don’t like that verse. We want to go on top of the waters and around the fires. “When you go through them, I will be with you” is what God tells us. Emmanuel means God with us…” If you would ask me whom I reckon is the most influential Christian band over the past 10 years, hands down I would say Tenth Avenue North. Sure you have for KING & COUNTRY with their Coldplay-style music and lyrics, their Aussie larrikin sense of humour, their slightly ambiguous is-it-mainstream-or-is-it-Christian lyrics, and their sometimes orchestral, cinematic musical pieces that have me engaged from start to finish, but where I reckon Tenth Avenue North takes the mantle of being influential is in Mike’s teaching videos! The band has inspired us so much, that we as a site have even written numerous posts about them and their songs, of which you can check out all the posts here! Sorry Joel and Luke, but Mike wins this round, ok? In all fairness, the band that started in 2008 (maybe the guys should record a greatest hits album in 2018, sort of like a Third Day Chronology type album…), have since grown and grown and grown, musically, lyrically and as men of God. Always releasing stellar albums (Over and Underneath, The Light Meets The Dark, the Struggle and Cathedrals), it is the band’s most recent effort Followers that probably is their most cohesive and complete to date. While you can read my brother’s lengthy but in depth and extensive review on Followers here, I would briefly like to point out that the heart behind the album and the title is quite extraordinary and remarkable.
What Mike envisioned when he wrote the album title and the songs, was the notion that in Christianity, God, the author and perfector of our faith is the only leader that is really important, and as Christians, instead of trying to be ‘leaders’ in our own ‘kingdoms’ that we have made for ourselves, we should only be following our Lord and Saviour in what we see Him doing and having done already. Numerous times throughout the album of Followers, Mike reiterates that he doesn’t want to be a leader, but instead only wants to be a follower. Though the concept probably goes against what mainstream society says- from day one we are mostly told by our parents, those around us, and the TV that in order to be successful, we need to be leaders- Jesus himself wasn’t a leader. Say what? Is this blasphemous? Not, not really.
When Jesus started his ministry at the age of 30, He only undertook what God the Father told Him to do. He followed His Heavenly Father, and if we’re made in the image of God, sure we have some leadership ability, but we need to surrender to the true leader of all who knows every detail of our life. Sure we can lead, but to truly lead is something we cannot do if we’re not perfect. And the only thing who is perfect is God, so we need to let him lead, no matter how much it pains us. Are we humble enough to swallow our pride and let him move in us and take the lead in our lives? That is the pertinent question that I will let you dwell upon. With the notion of giving up control so that God can move in us more than ever, and to follow His will even when we are afraid, permeating all throughout Followers; it’s no wonder that I reckon Tenth Avenue North have recorded their finest lyrical work to date, and I think also that they’re just getting started!
Which brings me to this mini-review of sorts. One of my favourite songs on the album is “I Have This Hope”. You may have a different favourite but that’s mine. While I won’t bore you with specifics of how the song was recorded and the story behind it (I’ll leave that for Mike in his video at the end of this post!), what I will say is this. The song, which originally was recorded as a piano ballad, though only 3 minutes 24 seconds, speaks volumes, as we are met with a cry of hope, promise and intense certainty and surety, as Mike eloquently declares that ‘…whatever happens I will not be afraid, cause You are closer than this breath that I take, You calm the storm when I hear You call my name, I still believe that one day I’ll see Your face…’. God doesn’t promise a trouble-free life once we become Christians. It’s not a pill we can take and everything is alright with the world. No matter how many Christians are living on this earth, the earth is still fallen and sin still exists, until Jesus comes back.
Because of this, this world does hit us down with hardships and tragedies, even to the ‘best’ person ever. With the song being inspired by Isaiah 43, and written in the light of guitarist Jeff Owen’s sister-in-law diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in February 2016, and ultimately beating the disease and being in remission later on in 2016; “I Have This Hope” hopefully is a melody that can provide comfort, solace, healing and a space where we can reflect on God’s promises. He doesn’t say that there won’t be a fire. He doesn’t say He will take us over or underneath the fire, or even around it. In fact in Isaiah 43, it says that we will walk through the fire. Yes, through it. No you heard me the first time. The fire is gonna happen. It’s not God’s fault by any means, it’s just that sin has entered this world, and sometimes things happen that God doesn’t like. Though I will save the topic of ‘sovereignty of God and why do good things happen to bad people, or bad things to good people’ for another post (in about 6 months to a year, when I am fully prepared for answers from trolls and such!), let me go back to the fire.
Yes we will walk through it, but He is with us always, guiding us through, and helping us build our character and learn something about ourselves we wouldn’t even realise had we not gone through hardships. So “I Have This Hope” is special, in that it reminds us that even if it’s dark right now, joy does come in the morning, and we do have a hope in Jesus, based on the promises in the Bible. Indeed ‘…through the flood and the fire, You’re with me, and You won’t let go…’, and it is with that ever true declaration that we can live life to the fullest. But maybe you have been burned by Christianity or events in your life beyond your control. Maybe you are angry at God. Maybe you don’t think He exists, or maybe you used to be a Christian and are now turning your back on Him for whatever reason. Unlike Jeff’s sister-in-law, who had a happy ending, maybe your ‘ending’ isn’t so happy. Maybe someone died or is dying, or maybe the fire you went through cost something emotionally and mentally. Maybe you think that ‘If God is so big and mighty then why didn’t he do ___?’ Well, sad to say it, but I don’t really have answers for you. Not answers that will satisfy you in the short term anyway.
What I can say to you is this. God is there. You can talk to Him. You can swear at him. Question everything, question His existence. Question his ‘plan’ for your life, and you also question why ___ did or didn’t happen when you wanted the opposite to occur. You can scream and shout and cry, and God will not get offended. You can punch the walls until your fists are black and blue if it makes you feel better. You see, God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit, the Trinity, is perfect. No blemishes, no sin, He was, is and always will be. Psalm 145:8-9 states that God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in love, and that He has compassion over all that He has made. He does not want any of His children to suffer. So why doesn’t He take away our suffering just like that? Even before it begins? It’s not something I will answer right away in this post (like I said earlier, maybe in about half a year to a year…), but let me pose you this question. How many pivotal events in your life that shaped who you are today came about due to a tragedy that could have been unavoidable? Maybe not all, but I’m willing to bet some of them. When we undergo extreme change due to tragedy, almost always we learn something from the ordeal. Even if in the end we end up hating ourselves and not changing for the better because of the event, we will see the world differently, and we do have the capacity to grow as people and in our characters because of adversity.
“…What has happened to you that you need to forgive God for? Cancer or health issue? Divorce? Finances? What has God let happened to you where you have said “God, how could you let this bad thing happen to a good person?” I felt like God was telling me, “why do you call Good Friday, good?” It was the worst Friday until Sunday. We call it good because we knew God was going to work something good out of something bad. This a beautiful song to sing over people and say I don’t know what you are going through, but God is with you now, and He is with you until the end. You’re going to get Him no matter what happens. We have a living hope. No matter what happens to us, hope is a Person named Jesus. When He is our hope, Jesus will never be taken away. One of my favorite lines of the bridge is “You calm the storm when I hear You call my name.” Jesus is always calling, though we don’t always hear Him. Our hope is that we get to be with Jesus. When you think about faith, hope and joy, these are things you have to surrender to. We all have an idea of how life is supposed to go. We get mad at God when He disagrees with us and He lets things happen to us. We have to surrender the way we think things should go. When we do that, then joy, peace and hope flood in…” Gee…I’m looking at this review, and wow, it’s pretty long. I haven’t begun to talk about the remix version of “I Have This Hope” yet, which was my intention. It almost sounds like a Message Mondays post (it is Monday sometime in the world, right?). So why don’t I reclassify this as a blog post and a review? Not one, nor the other, but both! Yep, a post like this is necessary, as I talk about probably the most comforting and equally confronting song (yep, at the same time!) Tenth Avenue North has ever recorded! Because the notion of going through the fire and us coming out of it stronger than before, yet also wrestling with the questions of why things happened in our lives the way that they did (which is alluded to in “I Have This Hope”), is something close to my heart so much- I simply cannot ‘undo’ this post, and re-do it all over again and just speak about the song and the song only. On the flipside, I cannot just speak about this issue, and not talk about the song and how the band have recorded it- for it is in the music, especially in this song, that I reckon God can bring healing to the most bitter of hearts.
Ever wondered why Tenth Avenue North recorded the Ailo Remix of “I Have This Hope”? Was it a money grab? A chance to capitalise on an already strong single, probably the strongest of their entire career? Or was it because the message of God being with us always too relevant for us to ignore, and we need another reminder- even if it is the same song re-recorded in a different yet refreshing way? The original studio version is more traditional, in that there’s piano, light guitars and a CCM/pop feel, but the Ailo Remix included strong electronic beats and synth that you would most likely hear in a club or bar. But regardless, the message is the same. That ‘…I have this hope, In the depth of my soul, in the flood or the fire, You’re with me and You won’t let go…’. Jesus loves each of us immensely. He will never let us go. Despite everything life throws at us, He is always by our side and He will always hold onto us. Even if it looks like He’s left or wasn’t there to begin with, Jesus is with us. Think about it as you read this next passage.
One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”
He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”
“Footprints In The Sand”- Author Unknown, Date written unknown
Probably the most famous poem ever (but we do not, and we probably will never know the origins of the inspiring text!), the message of this and of Tenth Avenue North’s “I Have This Hope (both versions) is the same. That through our trials, God carries us and helps us through. We may not see it during our suffering, but afterwards, at the end, in 10, 20 years’ time, we will look back and notice God’s handiwork and his role in helping us be better people and more reliant on Him. He is our only Hope, and it is He and He alone that can and will guide us through the storms of life. So whether you are a Christian or not is irrelevant when listening to this song, as I believe that Tenth Avenue North’s song (which will be a hit for many years to come!) crosses boundaries of all kinds (not to say other songs don’t, but it’s just this melody that sticks out to me!) and should, can, and probably will inspire us to start living as if the trials in our lives are stepping stones in order for us to build our character. Not like tests, but everything that happens in our lives, God uses. It’s like making lemonade out of lemons right? I heard that saying first in the This Is Us pilot episode of the hit NBC TV series last year, and it’s stuck with me ever since. What a brilliant saying for this instance. When we are going through trials, though it’s not what we want to hear, it is necessary. Lemons are indeed what we are given sometimes, yet in the end, doesn’t lemonade taste quenching? With God’s help and us surrendering to His will, even though we do not know His plan, we can follow where He leads, and trust that ‘…You are near, trust Your grace can be seen in both triumph and tragedy…’.
There’s a couple of other songs that I’d like to point out to you before I finish up this lengthy post, of which I pray and hope that you got something good out of it. If Tenth Avenue North’s “I Have This Hope” fails to influence or change your heart now (though it may in the future!), then maybe Ginny Owens’ “The Fire” and Cimorelli’s “Never Let Me Fall” comforts and encourages you in your plight. The former track is a CCM/piano led ballad, where Ginny thanks God for the effects of trials and tribulation, for without trials and pain, we would never grow nor deepen our relationship with Jesus Christ, nor learn more about ourselves as Christians or people, while we are reminded that in the midst of trouble and adversity, God stands with us and carries us, thus Ginny can unequivocally proclaim ‘…thank You for the fire, thank You for the night, thank you the trial that I don’t know how to fight, thank You that you lead me to the end of my own strength, this is where You meet me and carry me again…’. While “Never Let Me Fall”, written by Lauren Cimorelli (one of the six sisters and vocalists in the band!), is a radio friendly pop ballad, and inspires us to surrender everything completely to God, to move where He leads. Personal to Lauren in that she wrote the track after feeling like nothing was going right in her life, and ultimately totally surrendering to God; the song is freeing in a sense, particularly the bridge, where we can hopefully unequivocally proclaim that ‘…when I have nothing left to give, I will give it all to You, Lord You are my Saviour, my Comfort, Redeemer in light, I will journey through the storm, I will walk through the fire because You are the strength in me…’.
With these three songs having similar themes of walking through the fire and God carrying us, and each can encourage and inspire in their own way, it is still Tenth Avenue North’s song “I Have This Hope” that is the song to listen to if you only listen to in 2017. Not that you can physically only listen to one song, but that’s how much I think this song has the power to change people’s lives. Well, not the song, but God working through the song. And though we as a site have gone a tad ‘crazy’ this month and written more reviews and posts in recent times than we could count on two hands and two feet, it is this post you are reading right now that I believe is one of the most important posts you will ever read all year. Maybe for a long time. Understanding that nothing we do on this earth is wasted in the end, and that all of our struggles and trials can and will be turned around for good someday, is a concept that I reckon as soon as we get, we will live a whole lot freer and more like the followers Jesus wants us to be.
And while it took me quite a long time to write this post, I’m not really that fussed with the outcome. Whether it is read or not. Well, I know it will, but I don’t really care how many people read this post. Whether Tenth Avenue North or Ginny Owens or Cimorelli or my parents, my brother, my friends, others who know me at the café, read this post or not, is irrelevant. Whether anyone likes this post or not is irrelevant as well. Sure, it would be nice for this post to receive 2 million views or something a bit ludicrous like that, and sure, it would be nice for all these artists to tweet or share this post via social media. It would be nice for close friends and acquaintances to come to know Jesus through what I’ve written. But in the end, if none of that happens, that’s ok. It’s a given that I will be sad, but I won’t have regret. Because I know that at least one person in the world will read this post, and be changed because of it. At least one person will come to Christ because of what I just posted. And that alone is pretty cool!
Anyway, what I’ve written today has been brewing in me for a while, it just took today iTunes on shuffle ‘randomly’ select “I Have This Hope” for me to get everything that’s been on my mind out. And I say ‘randomly’ as I don’t believe it was. There’s a time and a place for everything (according to Ecclesiastes) and the time is right for me to say what I need to say- that there will be trouble, that we will walk through the fire, but God is with us and He will never leave us. So at the end of this near 4000 word ‘essay’, ‘thesis’, ‘pet project’, whatever you want to call it, what I hope and pray for each one of you is this. That you will trust in Jesus, that you will let Him lead in your life, and that you will go where He directs you to. And that when you are in the suffering and the fire, just know that you are not alone. Even when others leave you, God will never forsake you. That hopefully Tenth Avenue North’s “I Have This Hope” or Cimorelli’s “Never Let Me Fall” or Ginny Owens’ “The Fire” or any other inspirational song that you feel drawn to, becomes your anthem during the hard times. God can speak through any song, through anything, we just need to listen and He will speak.
What are the trials in your life right now (You don’t have to be specific though!)? Which song is drawing you closer to God as you move into where He wants you to go?
Til next time!
3 songs to listen to: I Have This Hope (Ailo Remix) 3 times…then the studio version of I Have This Hope 3 times…then the Followers album three times once you realise that Tenth Avenue North is such a great band, with big, big hearts for Jesus!
RIYL: Matthew West, Steven Curtis Chapman, for KING & COUNTRY, Cimorelli, Ginny Owens