Recently I heard noticed several churches in our area were singing this song - I had never heard it before. We sing a lot of new, fresh songs in our church, so I am always curious to find new songs that would be singable for our Sunday gatherings. Typically I will listen the song while reading the lyrics to understand not just what is being said but what those words mean.
There are some encouraging things about this song. While God’s or Jesus name is not mentioned specifically it is obvious He is the object of the praise and It starts out with praise for all God has done in the singer/song writers life and expressing a desire to now be ready to follow where ever God will lead. The second verse is also positive - expressing that in every season (good and bad) that God’s grace is enough and directing attention ahead - to some point in the future - where things will be better. The early apostles want us as disciples of Jesus to fix our eyes on heaven & eternity where all things will be as they should be and Jesus is on the throne ruling as King over everything - with everything under his feet once and for all for ever.
However, the chorus and the bridge of the song give greater context to what the author is desiring - “Your presence is an open door; We want You, Lord Like never before; Your presence is an open door So come now, Lord Like never before.” It is hard to know what the author desires - is he longing for heaven - or is he longing for some kind of extra experience of Jesus in the here and now. In some ways desiring God’s presence more is a good thing but don’t we have God’s presence fully through the indwelling of Jesus in us & the presence of the spirit in followers of Jesus. Is there some part of the presence of the Spirit that we lack or that we do not have. That would seem to contradict what Paul says in the New Testament about the presence of God in our lives. It is true we can grieve the spirit and we can choose to walk in step with the spirit but are we lacking the presence of God and in need of some kind of secondary blessing of the God in our lives. God says he has given us everything we need for life and godliness already. In fact - Jesus tells his disciples that it is a good thing that He (Jesus) is not here with us - he sends the spirit to us and that is exactly what we need - do we need more? The desire for the presence of God, either in Spirit or in Jesus, does not appear to be a future focussed experience at the return of Jesus but something in the present.
The bridge further digresses - “I know breakthrough is coming, By faith I see a miracle, My God made me a promise And it won't stop now”. What breakthrough we are singing about is very unclear - we are anticipating the coming of Jesus - but that does not appear to be the focus. What miracle are we be faith oping in - release from some experience we are enduring, monetary success, physical healing. The bridge sounds like the refrain of a health and wealth gospel teacher on TBN. Clinging to God’s promises is a good thing but what promise specifically are we clinging to - his presence, his forgiveness, his return. There is a great deal of ambiguity of what we are hoping in - it could be all of God’s promises - but why not just speak to or talk about a couple specifically - that God will never leave us, that we will be resurrected, that we have a future in the heavenly places with the King. And the repetitive nature of the bridge ending with “I won’t stop now” sounds motivating - like a cry at a pep rally - but what will we not stop - believing, obeying, trusting, following.
The song itself has so little specific biblical content that it could be sung by Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Muslims and probably just about any other religion because there is no focus on Jesus, the cross, or the empty tomb - While a good song does not need to have all of those things in it to be sing worthy, it would seem some kind of uniquely Christian content would be great since we are “Christians”.
The song is vibrant musically - the song certainly is popular among many churches - but the song is lacking - it might easily cultivate emotions of joy or reflection but joy & reflection in what is left to the imagination. Maybe it is meant to be intentionally non specific so that way no matter what tradition you come from - you can sing it.
“Won’t Stop Now” certainly does not fall in the tradition of songs that teach as Ephesians and Colossians tell us our singing is to do. It does invoke a command to not stop - but what we are not stopping is unclear. As a pastor myself, I would not want this song sung at the church I attend because it does not direct us to anything of substance. Sure it is an expression of praise and a call to follow - but where we are following, who we are praising and where we are going is anybody’s guess. I do see a miracle coming - it is the return of Jesus. I do see a breakthrough - when every knee will bow & every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord tot he glory of God the Father. And God did make me a promise - but the promise is that He Won’t Stop - he won’t stop his plan, he won’t stop his work in me & he won’t stop the advancement of the gospel until every person who he has said will be saved is saved.
Next week we will look at the song “Good And Gracious King”