This Little Light of Mine: The Authentic Hope of Steffany Gretzinger’s “Blackout”
If I’m honest, worship songs overwhelm me sometimes. Granted, it’s not every Sunday or even every song. But some days, as I’m worshiping, my brain will get snagged on a certain phrase or verse, and I find myself worrying that I might not be the person the lyrics projected onto the screen seem to think I am.
Is there really no place I’d rather be than here in Your love?
Am I actually part of a chosen generation, a holy nation?
Does the same power that conquered the grave really live in me?
In those moments, I’m not doubting God’s greatness. I’m doubting me. Again, if I’m really, exceedingly honest, I don’t always feel like the salt of the earth, or a mountain mover or capable of doing anything and everything through Christ who gives me strength. More often than not, I feel feeble, waward, flickering. I certainly don’t feel like the light of the world, shining for all to see. Listen to the full album here.
Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you’ve felt like God is great, and you’re not. Well, guess what? You and I are kind of right. We’re broken and feeble and small. But here’s the beautiful thing: we’re also dead wrong, too.
And that’s what Steffany Gretzinger’s new album, “Blackout,” is all about.
Steffany Gretzinger’s first solo album, “The Undoing,” was released in 2014 by Bethel Music, and it was clear from the very first track that Steffany was trying to accomplish something different. There was an intimacy to “The Undoing” that’s not always present in the stadium anthems of contemporary Christian worship, an emphasis on what Steffany calls “the moments in-between.” According to Steffany, the album was built on the idea that “finding the Promised Land is in the process and not at the end of it.”
Dark and light, hardship and joy, our frailty and God’s power—with “Blackout,” Steffany Gretzinger meets us right where we’re at: in the middle of our lives.
With her sophomore album, “Blackout,” Steffany dives even further into the process and those in-between moments. Dark and light, hardship and joy, our frailty and God’s power—with “Blackout,” Steffany Gretzinger meets us right where we’re at: in the middle of our lives. Her lyrics are honest, raw. On one hand, she recognizes human fallibility. Words like “weakness,” “ego” and “dust” crop up throughout the album. In the opening song, “Save Me,” Steffany sings “I tried to be the hero for a day/ But all my super powers failed to save.” The meaning is clear: on our own, we’re not enough, and we know it.
But on the other hand, Steffany knows that there’s more to the story than pain and self-defeat. “Blackout” acknowledges the darkness, but reminds us of the light—in God, and yes, in us.
Steffany’s lyrics remind us that it was never about us being good enough, but rather us relying on the One who most certainly is. “No one but you can save me,” she proclaims in one song, and in another she sings, “I won’t win this battle with the strength of my hands/ You’re the Mountain Mover and only you can.” There are battles to be fought and mountains to be moved, sure, but not by any strength of our own. That’s God’s job. But the more amazing truth is that this power exists in your already. Yes, that grave-conquering power lives inside of you. As Steffany sings, “I’ve come to breathe life on dry bones/ Just like I see my Father do.”
And that might be the most significant message of the album: God shines through us.
There’s no righteousness exams we have to pass, no spiritual IQ quizzes, no Presidential Fitness Tests of spirituality. We just have to show up. In “Bright Ones,” Steffany sings “We are Your bright ones/Lit up with Your love.” God can use us, as we are, right now. That’s not to say that, as life goes on, we won’t grow in righteousness or become more Christ-like. We will. But here on earth, in this life, we will always be caught in the middle, in-between. We will always be in process. Steffany acknowledges this, and as a result, “Blackout” is something truly remarkable: a worship album that encapsulates both the human condition, the glory of God and everything in-between.
One of my favorite Christian writers, Frederick Buechner, writes this about light: “We can’t see light itself. We can see only what light lights up, like the little circle of night where the candle flickers….When Jesus says that he is the Light of the World (John 8:12), maybe something like that is part of what he is saying. He himself is beyond our seeing, but in the darkness where we stand, we see, thanks to him, something of the path that stretches out from the door…”
I think Buecher is right. And to those of us who doubt ourselves and our ability to shine, let’s remember: it’s not about us. It’s about the Source of the Light, and about pointing people back to Him. It’s about navigating the darkness, and helping others to do so, too.
If we can get that, then maybe we can join Steffany Gretzinger in singing, “In a blackout/ I will illuminate the dark/ You won’t escape the beaming/I will glimmer, I will glow.”
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