The world we see and the world we don’t is the subject of beloved contemporary Christian artist Sara Groves
’ newest record Invisible Empires
An accomplished artist, Groves
is embarking on her tenth project that seeks to awaken listeners to the things that real and should be kept close to heart in a society filled with so many trivial distractions that consume our time.
Always providing thought provoking and soul touching lyrics, Groves
took time out for her BREATHEcast fans to fill us in about her new record and the journey that it took her on.
BC: The title Invisible Empires is a statement all in itself. What was the inspiration and meaning behind it?
Groves: Well, the title invisible empires comes from the song obsolete, which I think is the second song on the record. The song is about – I’m looking at these two skylines, one would be man made,with fervor, the works that we do on our own apart from God. We’re striving and trying to put all these things together. We’re creating, often living, literally in virtual worlds. We’re online with virtual friendships and virtual worlds. In the mean time there are real people in our lives who are – who want our love and want to love us. And, I feel like we often turn to this man made and this sort of phenetic life, this work apart from God, kind of like our own babble, our own tower of babble.
And then there’s this other skyline and that’s the skyline that God is constantly working on. To me, that is our reality. Paul says that we can see what is through the unseen. You know, the spiritual world, we can’t always see it and yet its very real. And I feel like the way God works is eternal and it lasts, its meaningful, it has substance. Even though I can’t see it always, I can’t see God at work, the things that He does in my life are more permanent and are more real.
The song is kind of looking at: we’re walking down the streets of invisible empires. I want to be about the real things of God.
BC: Your songs always seem to come from a very deep place. How do you go about writing them? How do you find inspiration?
Groves: Well I love to read and I just listen to people talk and I write a lot from my own experiences too. “Obsolete”, a lot of that song is about feeling kind of left out. To me, the internet makes everything feel like there’s not enough, you know? You can’t answer your email fast enough or on time. There’s just always somewhere to be. You get this feeling like you might always be missing something. That song, I just was wrestling with those feelings in my own self and I wrote and worked those thoughts out at the piano.
I’ve always done that. I’ve always worked out my thoughts and my feelings out through music, so a lot of it is just my own relationships and stuff, my own marriage and friendships. But I love to read and this album was inspired a lot by this book called A Long Obedience In the Same Direction which was written by Eugene Peterson. Its just about – its a lot about, discipleship. The tag line to the book says Discipleship In An Instant Society. How do we go deeper with God when everything is sort of right at our finger tips?
BC: One of my favorite songs on the album is “Open Hands”. What’s the story behind this song?
Groves: I wrote this song with Alley Rogers who’s a great song writer out of Nashville and I was talking to her about the verse – you know it says in Psalm ‘He withholds no good things from those who love Him’ and I said, you know, that verse is hard for me to process. I know that its true in my own life yet its hard for me to process that He withholds no good thing.
And she had just been reading this devotional by Charles Spurgeon [that] says basically, how can this be true? How can this psalm be true when we know amazing men and women of God who struggle with health and finances and different troubles, and different troubles beset them? They have a lot of troubles. So how can we say that God withholds no good thing?
And he concludes, he says, we can only assume then that health and wealth are not the good things of God. The good things of God are peace of conscience and the joy of His holy spirit and the blessed assurance of His presence. These are the good things of God. And what we think are good things are like, hey, I want money, I wanna feel good and what Charles Spurgeon is saying is: these aren’t the good things of God. The good things of God, those things are for us.
We will get sick, we will have difficulty, we’ll have times like Paul said, we’ll have times of wealth and we’ll have times of poverty and we need to be content in both of those times.
What God offers us is peace that surpasses all understanding, the joy of His Holy Spirit, and the promise of His presence and I love that. I mean, I can say without hesitating that He withholds no good things from me if those are the good things of God.
So, in this song, I’m talking about, these are the things I’m grateful for. I’m grateful that when I did have trouble He was with me and when I was sick, I had peace, that when I did have a financial difficulty, I knew He was present and that He was working in my life. So, this song is acknowledging that He withholds no good thing from me and that doesn’t mean stuff. That means the true good things of God.
BC: This is your 10th project. How would you say you’ve grown the most since your first one, Past The Wishing?
Groves: Oh man, that’s a hard question. You know, in some ways I feel like I’m the same. I go about [and] like I said, music is the way I process my life. A lot of that hasn’t changed – the way I go about it. Personally, I hope that I’ve grown through Christ and I hope that I’ve hopefully grown in wisdom and discernment. Every record has kind of been a different journey for me and I think when people listen to it they’ll say “Oh yeah, this sounds like you.” But for me, the theme for the record, every record has a theme – God has taught me about social justice in Tell Me What You Know...With Add To The Beauty, it was all about hope. The kingdom is real and He’s changing lives. He actually moves and is changing people and we can hope for that.
Each record is different. This record is a lot about, I don’t wanna be doing my own thing. I wanna be doing Your thing. I wanna be doing what You want me to do. So every record has a theme and I think if you were to listen to them end to end, you’d kind of hear me grow up, I would hope (she laughs).
BC: Every record has theme. What are you hoping that listeners will take away from Invisible Empires?
Groves: Psalm 127 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, then the builder builds in vain.” That verse is what this whole record is really about... There’s two kinds of ways to go about our lives and that’s to do it ourselves or to rely and wait on God and I think the theme of the record is that, the things of God are real. They’re more real than things that we hold in our hand. So, we may not see them. They might be kind of seemingly invisible but that’s the real work of God.
So, a lot of this record is about being present, being aware that God’s at work and then joining Him in that and being aware that a lot of the technology and the things that sort of catch us up are not – they’re not as real as we think they are. We think that those are the real things, involving these relationships online and things. But, when you get sick, who do you call?
I wanna invest in the people, I wanna be present in my relationships, in my relationship with God and my relationship with others. I think that’s really the key. I wanna be grounded in those things and not to sort of be washed with – again, the word phenetic comes to mind a lot – this phenetic age of this time. And so, it so crazy. Just go, go, go and do, do, do, do. I wanna be waiting on God.
' Invisible Empires
will be available on October 18th.