One of the things that has become apparent this past year is that everyone has something in their life that needs to be resurrected. For some of us, it’s a broken marriage or a fractured relationship. In some cases, it may be an illness, or it may be a life filled with no purpose. Though Jesus never promised perfection on Earth, He did promise His presence. He promised life when there only seemed to be death, and that is something we can hold on to.
In the dark months of 2020, the Saddleback Worship family was inspired and tasked by John Cassetto, our Worship Pastor, to carve out time and space to be available to receive melodies and lyrics we knew the Holy Spirit would send. I knew this was the beginning of something special for our church. In my years of walking with the Lord, I’ve always seen the harvest come on the heels of great turmoil.
In 2020, the team and I had our jobs turned upside down: We would not be going into the office on weekdays for meetings, or rolling into sound checks and services on weekends. Instead, we found ourselves isolated in our homes on countless Zoom meetings, Zoom writing sessions, Zoom Worship Nights, and more things that included Zoom. But you know what? Jesus was still at work. In fact, He moved in ways only He could move and in a season only He could work in.
As the team started writing, we found common themes illuminated: Jesus as light amidst darkness, the wanderer finding their way home, and the miracle of life found in the person of Jesus. The most beautiful part of this season was that there were no meetings when the writers got together to discuss the plan — we just asked the Holy Spirit to breathe something new in us. We asked that our lives be intertwined with His heartbeat.
Saddleback Church saw Jesus at work during the COVID-19 season. From March 2020, we processed over 13 million pounds of food through 873 grocery distributions, served approximately 254,000 families, and celebrated 27,788 decisions for Christ! How amazing is God? We also created worship videos, being flexible to the times. We allowed for our living rooms to be holy spaces as we filmed our outpouring of worship, then gathered in small groups when it was safe to worship collectively as a team.
But with that victory also came some hardship. We lost members to COVID-19 and had a scare with one of our worship leaders who almost lost his life to the virus. Joshua Norwood, a prominent worship leader and songwriter in this house, was given a 10% chance to live. Each and every weekend while Joshua was fighting for his life, campuses led the title track to the album, Alive & Well, believing and declaring that the miracle-working God of the Old and New Testament was at work today. As this specific song was inspired by Romans 8:11, we declared it over our brother: “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by the same Spirit living within you.” As Saddleback worship leaders led this song we asked for a miracle, and we found joy when Joshua woke up and was eventually released from the hospital! A miracle! He has a road of recovery ahead, but he is alive, and God was at work through it all.
In the moments of uncertainty with Joshua laying in the hospital bed, we kept listening to his vocal on another song from the album, Again & Again. In a demo of this song, we heard his voice singing these words:
Heal my weary soul
Speak to these dry bones
Fill this heart with hope
Do what only You can do
What only You can do
Come now and breathe on me
Awaken me, Jesus
There wasn’t a dry eye in the room when we listened to this as a team. We knew even though Joshua recorded his vocals weeks before contracting the virus, these words were being declared while his recovery was still on the distant horizon. How beautiful is it that Jesus hears our cries? Our church family is celebrating each milestone of healing-victory for Joshua.
It has been remarkable to see our church cling to these songs that were toiled over during a season of so much uncertainty. By the grace of God, we know that in every season we have the opportunity to give our hallelujah. We always have a reason to give thanks, and it’s because God is who He says He is. God is faithful to complete the work He started in Saddleback Church and in the global Church. God, by His Spirit, is creating streams in the wasteland. God is reviving dead hearts, broken marriages, and families that are crumbling. God is comforting the lonely, depressed, the hurting, and the outcast. God is healing, speaking, breathing, and moving.
God is alive and well.