Andrew Peterson and the Burning Edge of Dawn
The first time I heard Andrew Peterson’s music, it was the result of an off-hand comment. My brother told me a song I wrote reminded him of Peterson’s music. To my recollection, it was the only time my brother had said my music was noteworthy, so I stayed up far later than I should have listening to Andrew’s album Light for the Lost Boy.
Jump forward a year and a half later. You’re in the passenger seat of my car.
(You’re just onlooking — you’re not there.)
It is the kind of winter that still feels like January even though February had snuck in three whole weeks. This season has dragged on. I feel spiritually malnourished. I feel incomplete. Most of all, I feel sort of broken, which isn’t how you’re supposed to feel when you believe in a God who fixes everything.
It’s okay. I know that you seeing me like this makes you a little uncomfortable. It does that to most people.
I long for home. I want to hear my mother’s laugh again. I want to see mountains again. I want to feel a friend’s hug instead of a text message carried through the air 750 miles. It’s a little sad, but I even want to feel the knead of my cat’s paws as she dozes off at my feet.
You watch me close my eyes, and a few tears stream down my cheeks. The night has been dark and long, but at least that means I’m no longer embarrassed anyone will see me like this.
You hum alongside me: “Peace, be still.”
“I’m dying to live, but I’m learning to wait.”
Andrew’s music, particularly his newest album The Burning Edge of Dawn, confronts me with the biblical reality that our feelings matter. God has given us our longings for a reason. It might sound a little disorienting, but delayed gratification is all part of a process—a God-ordained process.
It’s the same thing Paul talks about throughout 2 Corinthians. Our sufferings have a purpose. God made an oath, and He sealed it with blood: Things will not always be this way. There is a Redeemer. He is the Great Undoer of the curse, and his name is Jesus Christ. And though we still feel the curse’s effects, its strength has been completely unwound by his death on a Roman cross. In between his crucifixion and the day all the curse’s effects are finally done away with, we have to trust that our pain, suffering, and discouragement is God doing His good work in us. After all, it is preparing for us an eternal and incomparable weight of glory (2 Cor. 4:17).
Our suffering is like refiner’s fire, at least until the Refiner comes back to restore everything back to elementary form.
You and I are on our way to Paradise, but it means we have to be united with Christ in his suffering.
You and I are waking at the burning edge of dawn.
Oh God, I am furrowed like the field
Torn open like the dirt
And I know that to be healed
That I must be broken first
I am aching for the yield
That You will harvest from this hurt
Abide in me
Let these branches bear Your fruit
Abide in me, Lord
As I abide in You
There are echoes of redemption in the image of a sower.
Above, Andrew describes the violence of gardening. He talks about how the gardener rips the dirt open, the earth itself seeming to cry out. A seed is tucked away into the soil and patted down firmly. It’s an unsuspectingly brutal scene.
There are a lot of us that feel furrowed. We are God’s field (1 Cor. 3:9), and as such, life can feel unsuspectingly brutal. We ache. But as the lyrics of “The Sower’s Song” remind us, there will be a return on our hurt. In the end, all the tears we cried will have been a worthy investment.
Even still, it’s hard to believe all this is true. Until you get your return back on an investment, it all feels kind of…fruitless.
It’s the same problem that has perplexed people for centuries, but we reply with the same proclamation the church has given for centuries: “[Christ] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs” (Heb. 1:3–4).
No matter how furrowed we feel, we rest because Christ rests.
You and I are seated in unyielding, black chairs.
(You’re not there, remember?)
We’re a little close for comfort, tucked into the front right corner of a plain room in Knoxville, but we’ve gotten used to it by now. The concert isn’t flashy, and the man on stage is humble. The night has been dark and long, but everyone else in the room understands, so they don’t mind me. We’re sitting beside some of my closest friends. They don’t seem to mind my emotions either (or, if they do, they let love cover over it).
You see tears stroll down my cheeks, similar to the time we were in the car together. They are noticeably different. They aren’t agitating. I am being stilled by God as I reflect on His gospel—the truth that the curse has been undone, no matter how cursed I feel like I am.
I think about another song—one Andrew didn’t write but probably sings a lot:
There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains:
Lose all their guilty stains,
Lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.
I remember what God has promised: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:1–2). It means I’m no longer subjected to the things I hate most about myself. I am assured, again, of one thing: All that rain had washed me clean.
The sorrow is not yet gone, no. But at least I can finally believe the King has loved me all along.