Most people know the story behind the blockbuster hit and eventual movie; “I Can Only Imagine,” that launched this group from a struggling Christian band, with a semi-heavy rock sound, to becoming one of, if not the, best Christian groups of all time. From their early beginnings, the band’s sole mission has been to spread God’s love with a commitment to God’s Word in every song they write and perform. While this incredible song says so much and clearly depicts the love and genuine commitment to God, of the groups Lead Singer and co-founder Bart Millard, it is only one of an incredible collection of great and meaningful songs that seem to touch every situation in everyone’s life and relate these situations to the love and Word of God.
Need a song to truly bring reverence and love toward Jesus and celebrate the day we leave this Earth to meet him, then this first blockbuster hit conveys the perfect message and captures what’s on nearly every Christian’s mind when we think about when that day comes. Such a brilliantly written and conceived song, it’s hard to believe they could ever top or equal this hit, and “I Can Only Imagine” was such huge hit that it launched a successful movie of the same name which depicts Bart’s early life struggles with his father, friends, and his love for God and music.
MercyMe may not have ever topped “I Can Only Imagine,” at least to date, but they clearly have at least come very very close with many of their later releases. Their next hit “Word of God Speak” is a brilliant reminder to all of us that perhaps seeking God’s Word, far more often than we do, can be far more rewarding and enlightening, than hearing ourselves talk all the time. That we might just be better people if we quit talking so often and let God speak to us. The song was so well received by Christian listeners that it vaulted to number one on the new Christian song charts and stayed there for 22 weeks.
The group did relatively well for the next several years but it was about nine years before their next relatively big hit “The Hurt and the Healer.” From the album of the same name, this collection of songs may have been the event that finally launched their careers into stardom. The first single; “The Hurt and the Healer,” is a smooth ballad lamenting on the many hurts in our lives and how these hurts need more than ourselves to be fixed or resolved. The song clearly describes how the only true healing comes from God and that no matter how hard we try, we cannot heal ourselves, only God can truly heal us. The second single from that album, “You Are I Am” was an even bigger hit and reminds us to humble ourselves to God because we all sin and take God for granted. It accurately depicts our daily arrogance of believing we are all we need and that we can do all things without God. As this song discusses our human failings it reminds us that God can do anything and He is always with us. From this point, nearly every single released by this group was golden.
Their next album; “Welcome to the New,” would feature three more hit singles, two of which reached the top of the charts. The first single, "Shake" was a respectable hit, but the next two singles would both go to number 1. "Greater" is a catchy upbeat hit about how no matter what this world provides, God is greater, and He will always love us far better than we can or anyone else in the world can. Their next single; "Flawless," also went to number 1. Flawless is another peppy upbeat song with a melodious refrain that reminds us that we are sinners, we make mistakes, we do wrong, we occasionally cause problems for others and ourselves. But because Jesus died for our sins, on the cross, we are all Flawless in God’s eyes. A brilliantly written message hits it’s mark with most listeners and reminds us of how good this group really is at conveying Gods Word. The final single was also a hit, although not quite like the previous two number one chart toppers. "Dear Younger Me," is a great song that reminds us that we weren’t ever as smart as we thought we were as younger adults. The catchy beat and lyrics paint a picture that if we could have seen into the future, or go back in time to talk to ourselves, then we would better educate ourselves as to what expect in life. And even with these troubles and challenges, God still loves us and forgives us of these transgressions. It may not have been the biggest hit to date, but this is one of my favorites as it speaks to regrets, second thoughts, maturity, all those things we don’t really learn or understand until we get older and truly seek out God more often.
The groups next album may be their very best, again, at least to date. Titled “Lifer,” this album features three of the best Christian songs ever written, and one I truly believe, turned my own life around a bit more towards Christ than it had ever been. “Lifer featured three number 1 hits; “Best News Ever,” “Grace Got You,” and “Even If.” “Best News Ever” very smartly tells the story of the demands this world expects of all of us. Work harder, don’t give up, make sure your good is good enough, don’t ask for help, and God’s keeping score of all the things we do, so that if we do enough, God will welcome us into heaven. But MercyMe reminds us that Jesus died on the cross to save us all and that all the work necessary to get to heaven is already done, by Christ, and not by anything we could ever do – a brilliantly written and performed song. “Grace Got You” is the next huge hit with a very cool and quirky musical intro to a very hip-hop type rhythm that tells us that we have nothing to worry about, no storm can harm us, so we should dance anytime and anywhere, laugh like we got away with something, and sing at the top of our lungs, because God lives in us and is with us, so at any time, and every time, the grace of God has ahold of us. The song features a very cool little hip-hop side-bar sequence where Hip-Hop artist John Reuben lends his very neat tie into the theme of the song.
The final hit on this album was actually its first release, but it took several weeks to gain traction with the fans. As I wrote in my message titled “Whistle a Happy Tune” [linked here] back in April, this song “Even If” is a song that helped me refocus myself on Jesus and God. As I’ve written before, I have never felt the need to be “Born-Again” because I don’t feel I ever lost my faith and commitment to Jesus and God. But this song honestly helped remind me that the world ways are not of God and God’s ways are not of this world. The song is brilliantly written by the band members due to one of their children being diagnosed with Diabetes. However, the song really is about anytime anyone feels down, defeated, hurt, damaged, and just plain depressed due to the many things in this world that could impact us with such feelings. Even with these challenges, the song goes on to remind us that if we stay focused on God, his love and incredible grace, we can rely upon the love he has for us, whether or not we come through these challenges, the way we think we should. So, through all the troubles of life, we need to seek God’s strength to get through the sorrow and the hurt. “But even if You (God) don’t, my hope is you alone,” because God’s love and grace is sometimes the only help we need – we can’t do it ourselves, but God can. The song concludes with a brilliant tie into that old Christian classic ballad; “It Is Well with My Soul.” Check out the “Whistle a Happy Tune” [linked here] message for more of the story of how it impacted me. As I said, the song made me feel new again and reminded me of my love for God. I don’t know if you know this song, but once you listen to it you will understand why this song changed my life, or even might possibly change your life - thank you God!!!!!!
Finally, on their most recent album “Inhale (Exhale),” they have released the single “Say I Won’t.” Which is an excellent response song for all Christians who get challenged by non-believers or even “soft” believers. People who say “you’re not that dedicated” or “you’re not that faithful,” or “You can’t do this or that,” and other worldly challenges. “Say I Won’t” is a direct response to all those doubters in this world by stating – I’m going to love God, have faith in God, and dedicate myself to God – just watch me – say I won’t and I’ll prove to you I will. Another masterful story song dedicated to a true believer’s life and commitment to God.
On a personal note, Sarah and I have seen MercyMe once live and quite frankly, I could listen to their music 24/7. Our family has tickets to see them again, luckily in November this year, a show that has been rescheduled twice due to Covid. I can’t wait…but of course I will.
If you love, true, meaningful, caring, loving, and clean music, you cannot go wrong with any MercyMe song. The hits, the songs that weren’t hits, or even their social media posts. They are true Christians that simply want to share Gods love and message without being pushy or righteous know-it-all religious fanatics. Everyday humble people, like you and I, with a simple talent to share God’s love, in a very unique musical way. Check out their music, it might just be the Best News Ever for you when you realize that Grace Got You, and then you’ll know it is well with your soul!
***Disclaimer – The above interpretations are my feelings of what these songs mean. With the possible exception of what I learned about “EvenIf,” I honestly don’t know what messages the writers intended to convey, but these are my feelings when I hear these songs.