God is always there NO MATTER what. And thats what Anton Kompare’s album addresses- the question and the journey back from, “How Far Have We Gone?”
Run Into the Dark was written in response to a Moody Missions conference about human trafficking we attended a few years ago. The issue has always been heavy on our hearts and we knew we needed to share this with others because, well, there is nothing more heinous and invasive than the trafficking of humans. It makes God weep.
In reflection, we realized that the objectification and degradation of a human life to such an extent can only be done by the most damaged of people. How this happens, we don't know. This is why Run into the Dark, while written to and about victims, also extends itself to the traffickers. At one point every trafficker was a child, probably abused and marginalized.
I want to be cautious about not minimizing the weight of the crime. But it is important to remember that Christ’s death and resurrection, and his ultimate sacrifice are not only for those we deem innocent, but to the lowest and the most damned of our society. We wanted those who have been trafficked and who have trafficked to understand that this is offered to them despite whatever guilt they may feel. And so to all in darkness, the women and children who have no way out, our ultimate hope is that you find your salvation in the One who finds you where you are.
The question at hand is - what will you do? What can you do?
After releasing this video, we asked ourselves what we can really practically do besides creating art. On a trip to Atlanta, GA, we were surprised that God answered us a couple days later by putting us in contact with people who were involved in ministries to fight human trafficking. Now we have our own little part to play and will continue to look for more.
For the church, we wrote this song centered around the term, "Run Into the Dark". We were once the ones in the darkest of places when saved by God's grace. Our calling and mission involves us running back into the dark with the flaming torch of salvation in our hands.
“If you should feel that darkness is your friend Only because you’ve never seen the light
If you should steal quietly away
And chose to keep your scars out of sight
When Evil men
Demons in the night
come to you with sweet and heartless words But rest assured we are on the march
into the dark
Don't feel alone
God longs to be with you Sing to the night
For the love
that finds you where you are
If tears should find
Their way out of your skin through anywhere else but your eyes
If teeth should grind
Against the carnal pain and shame that haunts you through the nights
If you should kill
your spirit day by day letting your dreams and visions bleed you dry But stand assured
We are on the run into the dark
Take the step towards the child who's living through perpetual hell
and take the stand against the profane of women chained to beds of pain
Take a leap of faith into
the hearts of dreamers cut in two
Take away our apathy
and push our pride into the sea
Run into the dark”
The Alchemist album is an ode to the journey we take when we accept the fatal call to follow Christ. We all begin our journey with a heart of lead - we begin with unbelief. Inevitably, we must die to ourselves in order for God to make something beautiful out of us- gold.
I drew inspiration from my own experiences and took the entire project as an exercise to stand in awe of the changes God has made in me. My hope is that whoever listens to this album will be as challenged as I was to live a life in this reality - a reality of freedom from our old selves.
As a highlight, songs such as “Come to the River” talk about the turning point of our salvation or perhaps for some, the point of surrender in order to reconcile with “The Alchemist”, or become gold.
The flow of the album moves from dark to light and ends with the challenge to take that light back to the dark. Hence, we end with one of our most cherished songs- “Run Into the Dark”. Our call, our action, as a church is a necessary indication of the completeness of our salvation (James). Look out for the “Run Into the Dark” music video coming out this week.
For the past four (almost five) years, I’ve been serving as a worship director in a small church in a small suburb in Illinois. For those who’ve known me longer than that may find that surprising. Prior to my position in the church, I was labeled as a secular musician; and I loved it. I loved the freedom it brought. I was allowed to write and create as an individual with all my frustrations, edges, and dirt. I didn’t have the need nor the desire to mask the things that the church would have deemed embarrassing. While I certainly am not asserting that I celebrate my imperfection, I believe it is a sign of maturity to sit as I am before God, knowing that I am covered by His blood.
I remember a conversation I had with my wife a week ago. We talked about how the language in music labeled “worship” was often bland and repetitive. I noticed that the vernacular used in Contemporary Christian Music was judged based on how well it fits in its narrow spectrum, rather than the content or message of the song. It got me thinking – what is worship? Or what are the characteristics of worship? And most importantly, is my art worship?
At the heart of the matter, I believe that your view on worship is dictated by your view on your relationship with God. For example, should you view your relationship with God as a mere compartment in your life, and hence void of significance in other areas, then your worship may be sterile – a representation of a nice and neat factory-cut delivery of praise to the doorstep of God’s Sunday apartment. But if you realize that God is the god of your entire life, including the dirt and the areas you are yet to be fully sanctified in, then sing to God as such a person.
Create art that speaks of your brokenness, even if it isn’t “Church ideal”. Is true worship not honest and raw? Why would we sugar coat the truth to the God who knows and is the hard truth? If anything, labeling a song as secular (meaning void of God) because of arbitrary reasons such as the use of uncommon vernacular or a cynical take on the writer’s walk will make us guilty of diminishing God’s all-encompassing presence in life. So artists, don’t create as if your walk with God is perfect. We all know it’s not. Write about this bumpy journey with all the bruises and cuts – this is true worship for the artist. ~ Daniel Lim
Stephanie chiming in here. I know there are so many directions we could run in defining worship, so sorry this isn’t and exhaustive perspective. But what got me thinking about this topic was the fact that the type of music labeled “worship” has become smaller and smaller. I remember being so excited to hear a new melody played during a worship service a while ago. To my disappointment, the words were the exact vocabulary and lines from other worship songs, almost verbatim. There are the exceptions to this rule of course and I thrill to worship to these songs or different forms of worship. But I believe that as a Christian culture we are absolutely starving ourselves of true worship. And for what reason? That’s something to think about. ~Stephanie Lim
There was once a man who told me to hold my faith with an open hand. Isn’t that the point of faith? Believing that it will stay, not because of the strength of your own grip, but the strength of the One you placed your faith in. I have grown to believe, that should anything arise to question my faith; I would face it unafraid. This means that I will allow myself to relinquish my hold on to what I know to be true, and trust that the beauty of God will draw me back time and time again. There will be many who will feel uncomfortable about this, and I don’t blame them. Deconstructing yourself is a terrifying process, even if it isn’t done in its entirety. It even feels unfaithful at times. But what is more unfaithful – to understand so completely that faith is a gift, that you can trust the One who gave it to you to keep you from falling off the cliff even if you leaned forward, or to second guess this gift to the point where you find yourself in the fetal position as far away from the edge as you can get?
A quick aside – this is what my song “God of My Doubt” is about. I looked at the terrifying prospect – that my doubt was not my enemy, neither was my lack of faith, but a tool to sharpen me as I navigate a world that is deliberately foggy and mysterious. I don’t need to know the future. I just need to know that God is there, and what better way to experience that, than letting Him hold you?
There are many ways that God moves me. Through His Word, the preaching I hear while I’m sitting in a pew, the stinging rebuke of a friend, or the gentle encouragement of a listener. But I’ve found that God has spoken to me most, through my own songwriting. I know how that sounds. Rather strange to learn new things by talking to yourself. But perhaps the pacing and mulling does knock a few things loose for me to begin to shift and sift through the tightly knit mess in my mind. Or perhaps, there is a more mysterious work at hand.
When I write a song, I withhold all judgement for the moment. There are no awkward cadences, cliché lines, even theologically questionable lyrics. It is just God, my guitar, and I (and maybe every now and then He brings His guitar too). This is a time of vulnerability. All the wondering about whether the Church would give my song its stamp of approval goes out the door. I do this for two reasons, and in my opinion, they’re very good reasons. Firstly, I want my songs to be honest. If there is a theological flaw in my thinking, I want it to show. This is because I’d much rather my theology be fixed in my life before it gets to my listeners, than for my listeners to agree with my music, but find out that I don’t. If faith is a journey of imperfect souls, why should my music be perfect? Secondly, I want to hold my music with an open hand.
Time and again, we read in the Bible (and in modern day testimonies) about how God uses weak and untalented individuals with open hands (even reluctantly open hands). I want to be David, when He got up to worship after his son with Bathsheba died. I want to be Jonah, after he rose from the ocean to preach to Nineveh. I want to be Moses, after hesitantly picking up a snake which turned into a staff. I want to be a musician, leaving my music and lyrics open for God to use to touch the lives of people in spite of myself and shortcomings, and I urge you to want the same.