But I am afflicted and in pain;
let your salvation, O God, set me on high!
I will praise the name of God with a song;
I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
This will please the Lord more than an ox
or a bull with horns and hoofs. - Psalm 69:29-31
If you have not heard yet, Chance the Rapper's third mixtape, Coloring Book, has climbed charts across the nation since it's release earlier this year. This mixtape has been particularly special to me as it is a fusion of hip hop + gospel sounds, but also a weaving of the Good News throughout the lyrics.
There are many themes throughout that have hit home to me. Chance writes about God as a god who is holy + good but also a God who saves. In Chance's How Great (a rendition of How Great is Our God), his verse starts with:
Magnify, magnify, lift it on high..
The book don't end with Malachi...
Shabach barak, edify
This is reminiscent of Psalm 69:30. (A beautiful Psalm that I recommend reading as a whole) In this Psalm, King David is writing during a time of affliction, yet towards the end, David writes with a voice of praise and deep belief that God would help and liberate him. I do not believe it is by mistake that through song, David describes praise as greater than the sacrifices, traditionally made to God at that time.
A "come as you are" praise is what pleases God. In a time where we value money + possessions as the highest of gifts, we encounter a god who simply wants us for who we are. As C.S. Lewis explains,
God doesn’t want something from us, He simply wants us.
God does not want anything we can give or offer. He wants us. Not only does He want us, he longs for us. In Revelation, heaven is described as a place where streets are made of gold + there is no lack. Yet, the one thing that God wants more than anything is us. Despite His power and sovereignty, He still invites us to come. We see this theme of "come all" throughout the scriptures. For example,
"Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. - Revelation 22:17
What I love about this passage is that we find only one "action" asked of us: come. Come + nothing else, just come. Throughout Chance's mixtape, there seems to be evidence that he has encountered this idea of the Gospel. Chance does not describe his story as following certain religious steps to reach God, but rather that the Good News itself connects the sinner to the riches of Christ. Our past meets His forgiveness, our future meets His riches or as Jay Electronica eloquently puts it it in How Great:
Old Jerusalem, New Jerusalem
In Chance's song Finish Line/Drown, artist Noname sings,
I know my God
I know my God seen His breaks and His edges
Are jagged for giving that pain to His city in gold
Like everything is everything
Like all them days He prayed with me
Like emptiness was tamed in me
And all that was left was His love
"And all that was left was His love." What a beautiful chapter in this story. You see, this sounds like the ending of a story, but really when we reach this point in our lives, it is the beginning of a new, beautiful story woven with the goodness of God. In scriptures, we see God do extraordinary work through imperfect people with jagged edges potentially causing harm to his city of gold. In the same way, it's not only the forgiveness of God that is the good news alone, but it is also the fellowship with Jesus Christ that is available to us through forgiveness and repentance. Christ is not only our salvation but also our satisfaction. He is not only our King, but also our Friend. This is why we see scriptures refer to the good news as the Gospel of Christ. (Romans 15:19, 1 Corinthians 9:12, 2 Corinthians 9:13, etc)
Lord rain down on me so I can move on water
Like children at the altar, like God inside my house - Noname
The artist is describing the idea that the child-like dependence on God has led to her encountering the immeasurable riches of Christ so vast that it's like God himself, His presence, is inside the house. Chance describes the difference in blessings and worldly possessions in his song Blessings. When he refers to blessings, he is not talking about worldly possessions, he is talking about the glory of God and his presence. As Chance writes,
It seems like blessings keep falling in my lap - Blessings
What a beautiful picture Chance has painted for us. This is our blessing: that no matter our pain or affliction, we can come to God just as we are. Even if our lives are full of troubles and trials, our hearts can still be full of praise. Even when we are faithless, God is still faithful. The old is gone. The new is here. Through the avenue of praise, we have access to God's immeasurable riches (Ephesians 2:7)! Let this be your anthem of praise: God is good to me, not because of what I have done, but because of who He is!
Are you ready for your blessing? Accept His invitation. Take heart and know that you are a child of God. Experience His love and take your seat at the table.
"And all that was left was His love."