I started working on this song around the time I moved to North Carolina for seminary. I initially came up with the first line and got stuck after that. Typically, my songwriting process starts with the lyrics. I keep spiral notebooks all over the place where I jot down song ideas and work through the writing process over time. This particular song kept coming back to me from time to time and there are fragments of it in various notebooks. About 6 years passed between when I started this song and when I finished it. In fact, I literally completed it within days of recording it.
The song is all about the Gospel. The chorus echoes what Jesus proclaims in John 14:6 when He says, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (ESV) The Bible says that it all comes down to Jesus.
When I started writing this song, I was wrestling with how to respond to those people that call Jesus' claim to be the "only way" as being offensive or narrow-minded. These people ask, "How can you Christians claim that your way is the only right way?" Ultimately, whether it offends or not, the truth is that we point to what Jesus says in scripture.
As far as being offensive...I think it all comes down to how you look at it. If my life or my eternity was truly in danger, I would want to know it. I would rather be offended or made uncomfortable than to believe a lie and perish. I like the analogy of a burning building: If you were in a crowded building, like a shopping mall or a school and it were to catch fire, you would want to get out rather than burn up. Imagine that you are in that fiery situation and someone starts yelling, "all of the exits are blocked but one...and I know how to get us there." Are you going to be offended by the fact that there is only ONE WAY out of the building? I don't think so. You are going to get to that exit no matter how hard it may be! It is not offensive to you at the time because it is your key to freedom and life.
The claims of Jesus will be offensive to you if your religion, tradition, or belief system tells you otherwise. But if you were wrong, wouldn't you want to know? If you were putting your hope in a lie, wouldn't you want to know the truth? I would rather be offended now than suffer for eternity! This is the message of this song. Jesus is THE WAY.
- Writtten over a span of 6 years...completed in November of 2011
- Although it was the last song to be written on the EP, it wound up being the title track
- Originally, I intended for there to be 2 other songs set to this tune to go with it called "The Truth" & "The Life."
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BE NEAR ME:
- I wrote this song back in my college days around the time I wrote the material for the "Lead On" album. I recall walking around Jones Lake at Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, Georgia...as these lyrics began to roll through my mind. I think it started out as a response to the recent 9-11-01 terrorist attacks.
I have always seen this song as "My Hymn." It is a prayer that I need to pray daily to remind myself of my need for the Lord. Over the years, I have seen the truth in the words of this song displayed all around me. In 2005, Amy and I were living in Mobile, Alabama when Hurricane Katrina unleashed her fury on the Gulf Coast. We had just spent the summer in Chicago doing a youth camp and were getting ready to return to the Gulf when the storm hit. After the hurricane hit, we were not able to return home for a few months. In that time of waiting, I believe God called me to seminary. In a weird way, God used a bad situation like a devastating hurricane to change my course and use me in a new way.
We all face storms in life. It is just part of it. I mean...Jesus actually guaranteed we would go through trials. In John 16:33, He says that in this life here on earth, "we WILL have trouble." Fortunately, He goes on to say that He has conquered this earth and He will be with us wherever we go! He truly is my shelter through the storms of life...and He will be for you also wherever your life may lead.
So...what should our response be? In "Be Near Me," I proclaim, "that I will praise You forever...and follow You all of my days." That is my hopeful declaration to the Lord. No matter what happens or what storms come through...I want to give God the praise and glory He alone is worthy of. It is a thankful response to the One who will always be near to those He loves!
- I wrote this song sometime around 2001-2002
- Initially, I didn't think this song was good enough to include on a recording. Hence the reason why it didn't make the cut on "Lead On." However, this has always been my wife's favorite song of mine...and she insisted I start playing it when I sang places. Low and behold, this has become a constant favorite with people all over...and it proved that I should always listen to the wisdom of my wife!
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As a songwriter, I have always been fascinated over how certain songs came to be. Whenever I hear about the origin of a song, it makes me listen to it in a deeper way. I am able to connect with the artist on a greater level.
So...over the next few days, I will be sharing the stories behind the songs featured on my new EP "The Way." It is my hope and prayer that these stories and insights will be a blessing to you!
- This song began with the phrase I sing in the bridge: "Why do I run from the One who loves me?" That idea alone stops me in my tracks all the time. It seems so silly how we do this. As a dad, I see this played out in a very real way. I can't tell you how many times I have been somewhere like a crowded theme park or near a busy highway and noticed that my son was wandering away from us...into danger. Of course, I would call out for him to come back our way...and what did he do? He took off toward the danger! In the midst of his little rebellion, he has no clue about the danger surrounding him. In fact, in his mind he sees me as a threat to his plans. We do this with God all of the time!
We are all runaways... We set out to prove that we can do it all by ourselves...and wind up proving how hopeless and pitiful we are without God. Over the course of my life, I have learned this lesson and re-learned this lesson many many times! Fortunately, I have a patient Father in Heaven!
- I wrote this song in 2011
- I remember writing out these lyrics in the youth building of Central Baptist Church using a pool table as my writing surface.
- My son knows the words of this song better than I do!
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