Have you ever found yourself at the end of an angsty song and realized you were finally breathing again after the song put words to the silent scream of your soul? Or gotten halfway through a love song only to find yourself thinking it kind of describes your relationship with Jesus? Or felt comforted and carried by a song through a difficult time in your life in a far deeper way than might rationally make sense?
If you can say yes to any of these, it is quite probable that God infiltrated your playlist.
Not all songs are created equal. Some lyrics are too shallow or twisted to be conduits of grace. But we often find that, regardless of the original intention of the artist, songs that speak of the truth of the human condition are slipped into our lives by the Holy Spirit when we need them most, like a little note from God, reminding us of an unshakeable truth: we are seen, we are known, and we are loved.
Over and over in Scripture, the Lord assures us of his heart and of his promises. As often as we forget them, he reminds us. He has a funny way of making them pop up in our everyday lives. The first time I ever heard “Clean Eyes” by SYML, the acoustic version randomly popped up on an Indie playlist on YouTube. I was having a really rough day, full of swirling doubts and emotions, and had simply put on a gentle-sounding genre that I wouldn’t have to think about. It wasn’t a “Christian Music” playlist, and I wasn’t planning on listening to any of the lyrics at all. But “Clean Eyes” arrested my attention immediately.
"Clean Eyes" by SYML
This is an odd title made me think back immediately to the bizarre parable of Jesus’ when he talks about specs and logs in people’s eyes, preventing them from seeing things for what they truly are. This title immediately made me reconsider how I read this parable, with Christ as the only person with purely ‘clean eyes’ who sees me as I truly am. I knew that through this song, written by Brian Fennell for a totally different purpose, the Lord was slipping me a note. I’d like to share just a few lines of this note with you, in the hopes that it might help you discover notes the Lord has slipped to you too.
Lyrics from Clean Eyes, by Brian Fennell, 2019
My head is a room and the room’s full of broken glass
My child, you are broken and bleeding, but I will bind your wounds. Things are dark, but I am the light of the world – no darkness can ever put me out. Have you found me? Are you looking? I’m here.
“He heals the broken hearted and binds their wounds” – Psalm 147:3; “I am the light of the world” – John 8:12; “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” – John 1:5.
You can’t change me, can you save me?
My child, I see you clearly. I have seen you always, before the world was made. I see you for who you are, and I rejoice in you. Your hard heart breaks so that I can place in you a new heart, one fully alive. Do not doubt the power of my love to transform you completely. I am breaking the chains of your defenses, do not push me away. Let me free you. Let me heal you. Let me breathe life into you.
“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you”- Jeremiah 1:5; “he will rejoice over you” -Zephaniah 3:17; “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove…the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh”- Ezekiel 36:26; “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” -John 10:10; “He broke their bonds asunder”- Psalm 107:14.
SYML performs “Clean Eyes" LIVE at Phaser Control Recording Studio in San Diego, California for a 91X X-Session.
I’m a cynic, I told you, I don’t believe
My child, you have trusted before, why do you hesitate now? Have I ever failed you? Why do you doubt? I stand at the door of your heart and knock, and I will wait here until you unlock the door and open it to me. My love, let me in and be healed.
“I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24; “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:31; “I am standing at the door, knocking” Revelation 3:20; “regard the patience of our Lord as salvation” 2 Peter 3:15.
You can hear all the lyrics on Youtube.
Scripture is such a gift. When we read it, we hear the voice of God and learn to recognize how he speaks. In times when we forget his words, our familiarity with his voice allows him to bring them back to us in the most creative ways. He did this for me on that rough day through a random YouTube playlist. He can do it for you, too. If you haven’t already, start reading Scripture on a regular basis. If you don’t know where to start, crack your Bible open to the book of Matthew, or venture into the heartfelt cry of the Psalms. Through Scripture, you will learn to put words to your own human experience and to recognize the voice of God meeting you in it. And then wait and see how creative the Lord gets in infiltrating your playlist.
If you’re wondering, “Clean Eyes”, from the album SYML, can be downloaded on all major music platforms. You can compare the original and acoustic versions on YouTube, Spotify, or iTunes.