Difference Maker

I’ve known of the band NeedToBreathe for a long time, and I’ve had only two or three songs on my iPod from them, but I recently came across one of their songs, and it has definitely made me fall in love with them.

The official music video is embedded, so please listen to it.

 

Assuming that you have listened to it now, did you pay attention to the lyrics, or were you confused as to why there was a guy standing in an astronaut suit the entire music video?

I have about a ten minute drive to campus from my apartment, and this entire week I have had this song on repeat, and the lyrics are eating me up.

 Yeah, isn’t it amazing how a man can find himself alone
Call into the darkness for an answer that’s he’s never known
Yeah, isn’t it amazing how God can take a broken man
Yeah, let him find a fortune, let him ruin it with his own two hands

The first verse got me right off the bat. Oh boy, it did. From my understanding, it’s the fact that even a strong, powerful person can feel weak and alone and in need of help. And then this person “calls into the darkness” to a higher power asking for help. But “isn’t it amazing how God can take a broken man, let him find his fortune, let him ruin it with his own two hands,” is saying that He gives us the free will to make anything of which we can, yet He also gives us the free will to perfectly ruin what He gives us. God leads people to success, just like the verse says, but then it all comes crashing down when it is prioritized above God.

 And he climbs on up the hill on the rock on which he stands
He looks back at the crowd
He looks down at his hands and he says
I am a difference maker

The man is then believing that he has achieved everything by himself – with the work of his own two hands. He has done it all, without anyone. The man then looks down at his hands, putting all his faith and trust into himself.

Oh, I am the difference maker
Oh, I am the only one who speaks to him
And I am the friendliest of friends of God

The man then tells himself that he is the “difference maker.” He believes he can do everything by himself alone, and that he has control over everything. He tells himself he is the “difference maker” because that is what any man would say to himself to keep convincing himself that he is the powerful one.  He also calls himself the “friendliest of friends of God” because he thinks awfully high of himself. He believes that God loves him more than others.

Yeah, isn’t it amazing how a man can find himself alone
Call into the darkness for an answer that he’s never known
Yeah, isn’t it amazing how God can take a broken man
Yeah, let him find a fortune, let him ruin it with his own two hands

He walks on up the hill to the rock on which he stands
He looks back at the crowd
He looks down at his hands and he says
I am a difference maker

Oh, I am the difference maker
Oh, I am the only one that speaks to him
And I am the friendliest of friends of God

I am on the fence about nearly everything I’ve seen
And I have felt the fire be put out by too much gasoline
And we’re all strangers passing through a place and time afternoon
Life is but a vision in a window that we’re peeking through

Basically he’s saying that reality has no certainties whatsoever. And when the fire is “put out by too much gasoline,” he’s clearly saying that he’s seen people make mistakes, counter-productively attempting to fix their problems by igniting (yet again) more problems.

He then describes life as just a huge crowd of people who don’t know what they’re doing. We are all strangers, and we are all lost. “Life is but a vision in a window that we’re peeking through” means that people don’t have reality figured out. No one really has a monopoly on truth. Our time on earth is very short, like glimpsing into a window just for a moment to see what is going on inside, and then moving on.

We are not of this world. Our life on Earth is just a moment, an “afternoon” compared to eternity. This line echoes the sentiments of both the line right after it and the later phrase “we’re all astronauts.” People are strangers (lost) from a foreign world, only on Earth for a moment in time.

A helpless conversation with a man who says he cares a lot
It’s a passive confrontation about who might throw a punch or not
We are all transgressors, we’re all sinners, we’re all astronauts
So if you’re beating death then raise your hand but shut up if you’re not

And then a contradictory sentence about the characteristics of human beings and the inconsistency of human beings. He is talking about life – he compares it to a conversation with a person who says they care when they do not actually.

He then describes humanity as “transgressors, sinners, and astronauts,” meaning that human beings are all essentially wrongdoers in need of acknowledging their shortcomings. We are all the same – we are ALL sinners. We’re inclined to believe that we aren’t special and that we can’t make a difference, but God uses the worst of us to change the world. Don’t believe that? Take a look at Paul from the New Testament…

“Astronauts” specifically describes how lost human beings are, and that’s what the music video is all about. He’s in an astronaut suit because we are ‘lost in space without God.’

It is then sarcastically said that those who have power over death need to show themselves, but it is known that no human being is foolish enough to think he or she can cheat death. And therefore, all humans have fallen and are in desperate need of something greater than themselves, and this “something” is God.

‘Cause I am the difference maker
Oh, I am the only one that speaks to him
And I am the friendliest of friends of God

I am the difference maker
Oh, I am the only one that speaks to him
And I am the friendliest of friends of God

I am the difference maker
Oh, I am the only one that speaks to him
And I am the friendliest of friends of God

This song is a pretty spiritual song, and it can most definitely apply to everyone in everyday life. I think the main message of this song is that we all fall, and we all desperately need God. We cannot do everything alone – we are simply not powerful enough, but with God’s help we are.

Take a look at what the band has to say about this song:

I love the idea of Abraham’s righteousness, and what that really means. I always used to think that was right living, and doing a bunch of things right. Abraham’s righteousness came through faith, and believing in something he couldn’t see. It was not from believing in his talents. Everybody has the ability to be righteous, and believe. That’s a powerful thing. We are all given that opportunity. That’s such an equalizer.

The song is about our neediness and my realizing that over time. The whole band, really. It’s about struggling with who we are supposed to be and the process that God wants to be a part of. Creatively, where do we fit in? How valuable is our voice in all that?  How can we make a difference if we don’t feel it? The song says, “He walks on up that hill, to the rock on which he stands, he looks out at the crowd, he looks down at his hands, and he says I am a difference maker.”

I wanted people to see that in two ways. You could say he makes the statement out of arrogance, for looking at his hands and the crowd and what he achieved. Or, you could say he made the statement out of humility. When he realized that his hands could have never gotten him to where he is. The truth is the beauty of grace is that we do not and could not understand it. I take great comfort knowing that God’s plan is far greater than any success or failure of mine. That’s the gift I have. Not musicianship. Not singing, but faith.

I am a difference maker. The album to me is autobiographical. That’s what The Wasteland is all about. There’s a crack in the door filled with light, and that’s all we have to start. Our ambition got in the way and our priorities got in the wrong place, and being on the road and not knowing where we are. At the end of the album, the truth is there, and we’ve realigned our priorities. That really is the story of what happened to the band over that year. God had a plan for this album. We needed to put our identity into the things that matter in God, rather than in the band.

“Difference Maker” is a beautiful song in many ways. It’s about the beauty of grace and having faith. It’s about knowing that God’s plan is far greater than any success or failure. But it’s also about pride. The man in the song sees himself as great, but in reality, he really isn’t anything at all. The man sees himself as the only one who speaks to God, the friend of God, but he clearly isn’t. The man has done nothing great, and he is only speaking out of a false sense of pride and accomplishment.

Sometimes I often see myself as this man in the song. Something great happens to me, and my pride gets the best of me. I wish this wasn’t true, but it is. I don’t want to ‘climb the hill and look down at his hands’ and tell myself that I am the difference maker, because I most certainly am not.

We shouldn’t prioritize anything above God. 

God is good, all the time! 

 

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