Why do we do what we hate? Honestly this question plagues me all of the time. I tend to be an “act first” kind of guy. I say things and then about 5 minutes later I’ll find myself thinking, “wait a second, Jonathan….what even was that?”. I know I’m not alone in this. All of us have these moments and those moments result in some sleepless nights.
That’s where I was when I wrote Doorways and Tombstones. I was awake at about 2 A.M. My wife Kristin had already fallen asleep but I was awake contemplating decisions I had made during the day.
“Can I be a better husband?”
“Am I doing a good job leading the youth group at church?”
“Man, I haven’t read my Bible as much this week.”
The reality is that I know others struggle in this, but that doesn’t stop us from feeling alone in those times. Even Paul the apostle was plagued by confusion of his actions. He wrote in the tongue twister verse of Romans 7:15-17
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.”
Romans 7:15-17 ESV
Relatable? Yep… So why “Doorways & Tombstones”? Well one sleepless night I was going through random drawings and shapes that I have stored on my phone, I ran across a shape that I at first thought was a doorway. After looking another second I thought it might be a tombstone shape. After a little back and forth it slapped me in the face. That confusion between things that are dead and things that are entries into something new can be easily confused in our human mind. Sometimes we see things and think, “this is an opportunity! This is what I should head into!” When instead it is something we should put to death in our hearts. On the other side of that sometimes our fear and selfishness will cause us to not follow through opportunities that have been placed in front of us. We put them to death.
That’s where my mind was when I started typing out the lyrics to the song. We always view our life as entries and exits, right and wrong, and options. However, when we go about these moments without the Lords guidance we quickly realize how commonly confused we are. See, apart from Jesus we can’t truly understand right and wrong. If we are denying the person who is said to be “The Way, The TRUTH and the Life” how are we supposed to know the way, understand the truth and experience true life? John 10:10 explains that Jesus comes to give “Life and Life abundantly”. Now this doesn’t mean we are going to be rich, but it does mean that Jesus is the treasure in our life, and that our life is given direction and meaning through our relationship with Him.
This brings us obviously to the next topic in the songs second verse. Gods forgiveness, grace, and mercy. Think about how often we fall even as believers. We aren’t promised that we won’t struggle with the flesh or trip up in the race of life. What we are promised is that Jesus is with us in our suffering and He is there to pull us out of the wreckage that we so often run back into. Check this verse out:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 1:9 ESV
We are promised that when we bring our sin to the feet of Jesus in humility and reverence that He is not only faithful to forgive, but He is also completely and wholly justified in that. This honestly baffles me. When I think about how much God knows and how much He foresees, it leaves me feeling nothing but gratitude.
“Doorways & Tombstones” is a prayer in the choruses. It’s me proclaiming to the knower of everything that I know nothing. It’s me expressing to The Way that I have no way aside from Him. And it is thanking The Life for bringing perspective and meaning into a heart that only seeks to rebel most of the time. I hope the song speaks to you as well, and that you are led to gratitude like I was on a sleepless night.
by Jonathan Allen Wright