"Miracle" is a stunning opening to Invisible Empires by Sara Groves. It stops me.
Opening songs are often upbeat, but this is a beautiful, pensive ballad that makes me listen. I suddenly want to hear what I have not heard and see what I have not seen.
It is the antidote to Groves' question to her friend Jill Phillips, "Do you feel that?" "I feel like the pace of life keeps getting faster and faster," Groves explained. "Everything feels so frenetic these days."
On "Precious Again," Groves asks, "Where is the wonder?" Image is a journal that features the words "Art," "Faith," and "Mystery" on every spine and across the top of each issue. Often I am too dull to feel it, but these elements combine to break through my stupor.
It is what makes Invisible Empires appealing. There is depth that I can plumb. There is sophistication that makes me marvel. These songs take me to places inside myself, reminding me of the wonder awakened by music.
It can also be sobering. "Eyes on the Prize" is dedicated to International Justice Mission, an organization that seeks to bring justice to victims of sex trafficking and other types of enslavement. It is an encouragement to be in it for the "long haul."
"Pain is no measure of His faithfulness," Groves sings on "Open My Hands." "He withholds no good thing from us." The lyrics point out the fallacy of measuring God's steadfast love by circumstance rather than His unchanging word.
"Right Now" is somewhat of a curiosity at only 48 seconds in length. At first, I thought it was a tacked-on ending to the preceding song. Actually, it's a swift kick-in-the-pants. It is recognizing that we can do what God wants us to do. No excuse allowed.
"Finite," written with Jill Phillips, is a witty rejoinder to Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman." I relish the weariness: "What God meant by woman, I'm hard pressed to find." It reminds me of the apostle Paul's sublime thought of glorying in weakness so that the power of Christ would rest upon him.
For the thoughtful, there is much to explore on this CD. It is not as loud as some of her previous work but there is plenty of subtle variation. It may be her best yet.
This is part of the invisible empire that God is building. Groves has not labored in vain. Our work is never perfect, but God shines through providing glimpses of His glory. Listen and be in awe of what God can do with an open hand and heart.