​Unexpected Blessings: A Morning with Jon & Valerie Guerra

We wake up on any given day with the possibility of being blessed beyond our understanding. It’s good to remember that.

Monday mornings at CCLI usually include a time of worship and devotions. Last Monday I knew Essential Records artist Jon Guerra and his wife Valerie would be joining us as they swung through Portland with the Rock and Worship Roadshow. But I didn’t know what to expect. I confess I’d never listened to anything from Jon.

And then for 30 minutes or so on a foggy Monday morning they blessed my face off.

It wasn’t just the stirring rhythmic guitar-and-violin instrumentation, though that struck me in the moment as something every Monday ought to begin with. It wasn’t the striking harmonies, or Jon’s graceful-yet-dizzying trips from “chest voice” to “head voice” and up through falsetto and back down.

It was in the messages beneath these beautiful songs. Real messages. Piercing messages. Seeking messages.

Stained Glass Windows

“Show me what you see when you look at me …” One of the fundamental problems of the human condition is that we can’t see ourselves the way God sees us. How would our lives change if we could? How would the world change if we saw others as God sees them?

We have stains it’s true, but when your light shines through we all look like stained glass windows to you.

My first sense that this Monday morning might be potentially life-changing came in the very first words: “I should have brought it to you ….” How many times have I said that? How many times have I said it when the burden was already too heavy but I felt like it was too late to give it away?

The second sense I had was of how the interwoven harmonies of the “Shine shine shine” bridge could be so incredibly graceful but still so strong. When you get to this spot in the video below, listen to Valerie’s warm alto voice wrapping around Jon’s tenor (which  reminds me of Kenny Loggins, though the comparison really dates me). I dare you to not be moved.

Ever-Chasing God

I don’t know about everyone else, but I feel—more often than I care to admit—that I’m on a treadmill in my perpetual chase of God. Lots of energy and visible sweat, but the distance sometimes just doesn’t narrow.

It’s good to be reminded in these moments that He has spent eternity chasing me—this is not a one-way quest. And he’s promised he won’t stop chasing me.

“My unrelenting, my ever-creating, my ever-chasing God.”

This is a song full of both thanks and longing, and that points us to a reality we often don’t recognize. Near the end of the song Jon and Valerie repeat a phrase from the pre-chorus to deliver another stunning break, with words that cut right to our fondest hopes:

By your grace I’m made what I’m not.

Isn’t this what we all seek? To be remade through grace? To be the “more” we sense we can be, but can never seem to reach by ourselves?

I Will Follow

I’m not an industry insider and I’m certainly not clairvoyant, but I predict “I Will Follow” will be sung in many many churches in the months to come. Not because of a great “hook” or rousing chorus. Not because of chord structures or rhythms.

I believe it will be widely sung because it touches a fundamental longing in each of us. We long to follow, and even as we commit to this in our heads we worry, in our hearts, whether we have the fortitude to follow when things get hard. Many of us will find that there is an unexpected hole in our souls that is shaped very much like this song.

I believe everything that you say you are, I believe and I have seen your unchanging heart … In the good days and in the hardest part, I believe and I will follow you

This is the flame we dare to keep awake, and it’s the promise we utter even as we pray we can keep it: “Even in the storms, I’ll follow you. Even in the want I’ll follow you. Even in my death I’ll follow you.”

Whether it’s Monday morning or any other morning, be on the lookout for unexpected blessings. They sometimes appear as weary travelers who just stepped off a bus.

Also, be on the lookout for Jon’s album Little Songs. You can get updates through www.jonguerramusic.com or follow him on Twitter through @iamjonguerra. And feel free to share the links to these songs below:

The main image in this post came from a hi-res Vimeo video by Joseph Andrew.  It can be viewed here.

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