I remember when Matt Redman’s 10,000 Reasons first came out. I was a sophomore in high school and everyone loved it. Except me.
We sang it at church. The radio played it on repeat. Every student worship gathering I attended had its lyrics on the projector screen.
I grew sick of it almost immediately. I hated its repetitiveness, I didn’t understand its meaning or purpose, and hearing its melody made me cringe.
You can imagine my disdain when the song’s popularity continued for years. I thought the Lord was somehow amused by my petty dislike for a song meant to worship Him, following me around with it relentlessly. I finally figured out what He was really up to these past couple weeks.
As my team arrived in East Asia after days of travelling, I was eager to hit the ground running and get down to the gritty work of missions. My heart sunk a little when our first few days were instead spent studying Paul’s journeys in Acts and singing Christmas carols and worship songs (all necessary and beneficial, just not what I’d expected). My heart plummeted when I glanced through our song list and saw 10,000 Reasons had made the cut.
I can’t express how done I was with that song. I thought I had somehow managed to escape its grasp sometime in 2014 or 2015–it had had years to run through its popularity and move on–but apparently it hadn’t had long enough.
I suppressed my eye rolls and managed to keep my obnoxious sighs internal, impatiently waiting for the next song to take its place as its chords poured out of the guitar and my teammates worshiped day after day after day. I felt as if the song was haunting me, following me literally around the world, every day for two weeks, getting caught in my head as we strolled through village markets, being hummed by a teammate while we climbed a mountain to find a breathtaking view of the town, being played as we worshiped in the middle of a field surrounded by mountains and a lake. This stupid song was blinding me from one of the most beautiful places I’d ever been and I wasn’t too pleased by it.
God finally began to let me in on His little plan on our very last day in our city. The emotions of leaving our new friends, people who had become family, hit me like a train as we worshiped together one last time. Struggles I’d left at home had somehow found their way back to me, my need for the affirmation of others fought to overtake my heart yet again, the stress of regular, routine life began to creep back into its cozy corner of my mind. I wasn’t ready to let go of those two weeks, this ridiculously wonderful, unbelievably beautiful, truly awesome experience.
Sometime during my internal struggle of returning to my “normal,” 10,000 Reasons had begun to play. The words naturally came from my mouth; it didn’t take any thought. I’d heard the song hundreds, likely thousands of times, so of course I knew every word, no matter how much I’d hated it.
Yet this time felt so much different. I wasn’t begrudgingly singing a song I loathed, I wasn’t absentmindedly looking around the room to pass time. Instead, I was singing a broken-hearted prayer to the Father, to my soul.
Bless the Lord, oh my soul. Worship His holy name.
Sing like never before, oh my soul.
I’ll worship Your holy name.
This time the chords I’d spent years hating spoke to me, revealed my heart to me and showed me that I wasn’t worshiping Him. My soul hadn’t been singing to the Lord. Instead I’d spent years teaching my soul to long for affirmation from the world, from the people around me, from the relationship I lacked. I couldn’t find 10,000 reasons to worship my God for His goodness, His faithfulness, His love because I didn’t find what I wanted when I looked at Him. I’d been too caught up in my “life,” in my earthly desires, in my longing for the relationship I felt the Father was keeping from me, to worship Him, to sing to Him, to truly see Him.
I didn’t hate this song because it was a bad song, because its melody annoyed me, I hated it because it was a reflection opposite my own. Without even fully realizing it, I’d been holding my heart and life back from a full surrender to the Lord while I searched for affection and validation apart from Him. I’d been praying for things I wanted God to bless me with, praying for Him to change my heart, praying for His glory to ring throughout the world, yet I wasn’t allowing Him to do the work that needed to be done in me. I was doing the exact opposite.
On the outside, I’d spent years avoiding this song, but internally, I was avoiding giving my full heart, my entire life to the Lord. I wasn’t ready to let go of my hope for a perfect relationship, one that would calm all of my insecurities, validate my existence, affirm my personality. I dreaded surrendering my desire to be the best, for others to think well of me. Over the past few years, God has been calling me to the same thing: surrender. I’ve responded with small yeses. A yes to ending the relationship I thought was the perfect one. A yes to seeking my identity in Christ, not in others’ opinions of me. A yes to setting aside more and specific time to grow in my relationship with the Lord. A yes to being sent around the country for the Gospel, yes to being sent around the world.
But the Father isn’t looking for multiple small yeses. He wants one big YES. He wants arms outspread, hands empty and open wide, down on your knees, equally broken and restored by the realization of His love, “YES!”
He is jealous for me, for you. Jealous. He is not willing to share, He will not compromise. His love is relentless and will not settle for less than your everything. How overwhelmingly beautiful is it that the Creator of the universe desires all of you? We could easily find 10,000 reasons for Him to turn and deny each of us, yet He loves us and wants us and misses us when we search for love outside of Him.
Allow the Father to teach your soul to sing His praise alone. Surrender all that you have to Him, let His worship fill your life and heart and mind. Sing His praise unending, forevermore.