Read the story behind “I Will Raise,” one of the powerful new AntiochLIVE songs, from songwriter Johanna Six.
I was sitting at a food court in Qatar. Qatar is a ridiculously wealthy country in the Middle East where a liter of gasoline is cheaper than a liter of water. An estimated 75 to 80 percent of the population are expats from countries like the Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal and Bangladesh. My dad is a contractor there, so my family went to visit him for the holidays.
My family was ordering food while I held our place at a table. I caught the gaze of a man clearing tables. If this were America, people would be clearing their own tables. I didn’t see any joy in his eyes – no light, no life – just deep sadness and desperation.
This was one of those life-altering moments, where time seems to stop and you become an observer to the world around you. I looked around, and I saw the same despondent expression in most of the people around me. I fought the urge to cry. I asked God, “What is it about this situation that is affecting me so deeply?” In that moment, I realized it was because I was a free woman sitting amongst slaves.
There’s nothing like seeing bondage to make you aware of your own freedom.
I am free because I’m an American and have privileges that many of these people will never experience, but I’m also free from darkness and death. I have an inheritance and am a co-heir with Christ, and my Father is the Creator of the universe. After remembering these things, I was filled thankfulness and wanted to burst out in joyful song.
Instead, I immediately pulled out my phone and began typing, “I will raise my hands to heaven / These wrists once bound now chains are broken / You set us free to be your children / Now we will be with You forever.” I wrote the words “Now we will be,” but each time I sang it, it came out as, “Now we will reign with You forever.”
It felt a little uncomfortable to write that down. I knew the statement was biblical. If I declared that, put it in writing and sang it, it would imply that I accepted my status as an adopted child of the King. That truth about God is sometimes hard for me to accept. It seems too good to be true. But God isn’t too good to be true – He’s just good.
I’ve made it a habit to declare truths that I have a hard time believing, and they usually come out in song. That’s always been a goal of mine: to declare the truth and character of God in song so that it gets deep inside me. I think all of us as songwriters on the album understand the power of music and seek to embed truth and the word of God in our songs, especially for what it seems God is doing right now in our movement.
This year, the constant theme “Our God Comes” runs through our entire album. We have several songs by different songwriters that say that in different ways. No matter how we say or sing it, the truth doesn’t get old.
By Johanna Six