Most people know Jon Foreman as the front man, guitarist and songwriter for Switchfoot…
…a band that’s usually labeled as “alternative rock” but sometimes referred to as “Christian rock”. (Historically they’ve disagreed with the latter, saying “We’re Christian by faith, not genre.”) But Jon is also a prolific solo artist, with half a dozen EPs already released and more on the way. And like Switchfoot’s music, his songs tend to range freely across the often-artificial, sometimes-blurry lines dividing “secular” and “spiritual.”
As he himself puts it, “I often joke that I write songs about the things that I don’t understand, namely God, girls, politics, and death. It might sound funny but it’s true—music speaks with the words that I can’t find.”
In the case of Switchfoot’s music, some of these songs slide comfortably and gracefully into the “spiritual” camp: Vice Verses’ “Where I Belong” and Hello Hurricane’s “Your Love Is a Song” could be counted in this group. Many other songs in the Switchfoot repertoire suggest conversations with God or a deep spiritual longing: “This Is Home”, “Always” and “Back to the Beginning Again”.
I often joke that I write songs about the things that I don’t understand, namely God, girls, politics, and death.
Much of Jon’s solo work echoes with these same familiar and eternal themes. “Not surprisingly, there are topics that I come back to again, and again, and again–I simply can’t wrap my head around these mysteries so I keep singing new songs about it! I’ve probably written more songs about the grace of God than any other topic, probably because I still find the unearned affection of my maker hard to believe.”
With Jon’s latest solo effort, The Wonderlands: Shadows, he’s pushed at these boundaries to create at least one song that may leap over into new territory as an unabashed ”worship song”. The song “Your Love Is Enough” has many of the elements that define modern worship: Simple graceful poetry; singularity of focus on God and his provisions; a chorus of praise. It’s a distinctly new song that still conveys a vague feeling of familiarity and worshipful comfort in its words.
The beauty, the strength, the sufficiency, the joy… my words and logic fail. So I sing out a new song.
Where did “Your Love Is Enough” come from? As Jon puts it, “There’s a song that’s inside of my soul. It’s the one that I’ve tried to write over and over again: ‘Only Hope’, ‘Let Your Love Be Strong’, ‘Your Love Is Strong’ … the list goes on and on. These songs are my attempts to put the mystery of God’s love for me into words and melody.”
At the same time, the song is also intensely personal. “It’s a song that chronicles my lifelong battles with doubt and fear. The verses pose the questions: who can satisfy? Who can save me? Who can find me? The chorus answers, simply enough: your love is enough.”
While a lot of listeners might say “That’s not a worship song like I’m used to,” there’s little denying its worshipful nature. There’s no denying this song is a call to worship. Or how it could grow in strength and power as a congregation full of voices joined into the chorus.
Regardless of how it’s classified, Jon has a clear vision of the song, and what it conveys. He says:
Our roads in life can be painful at times… lonely, dark, and discouraging. But we are not alone. You, Oh Lord–Our Maker, our Redeemer, our Re-maker–you love us and call us your own. And your love is enough.
Maybe it’s best not to get bogged down by questions of “Is it a worship song or is it not?” Maybe it’s best to avoid listing the attributes that make any song a “worship song” in the first place, and instead focus on whether we find ourselves drawing closer to God as we’re drawn into the song.
As Worshipfuel contributor Jonathan Mason asked and answered in a recent post here, “Does a song invite the hearts and minds of believers to see and savor Jesus as he really is? Then it’s worship.”
The Wonderlands: Shadows EP was released on July 17, 2015.