Old Flames, New Fire: Hillsong Redefines Absolute Surrender in “New Wine”
Hillsong released their 26th live album in April. “New Wine” was the first of its twelve tracks I listened to. I was in my church’s singles’ group acting the chatter box when a brother casually dropped the song. No explanation was given about it. Nobody even acknowledged what he did. He just dropped the song as quietly as the Holy Spirit drops his truth in our hearts many times. Knowing his taste for good music, I didn’t bother asking questions. I had enough data to find out if his taste has finally gone sour. What I found left me left me broken for weeks.
In the serenity of Brooke Ligertwood’s voice, I found words. Deep. Powerful. Unconventional words. From the first line of the verse to the last line on the bridge, words poured into my spirit like the first drops of rainfall after a long season of drought. My soul had been a parched land, dehydrated by distractions. Ungodly obsessions were taking over my devotion to Yahweh, leaving me with a void only He could fill. I hankered for a drink of His presence- the intimacy we once shared. “New Wine” brought me that drink with the truth of its lyrics. As I savored every word sung, I staggered out of my spiritual slumber to my knees, belting the same heart-cry in the chorus of the piano ballad:
Make me Your Vessel
Make an offering
Make me whatever You want me to be
I came here with nothing
But all You have given me
Jesus bring New Wine out of me
Wine is very symbolic in the bible. It represents blessing, provision, festivity, joy, and sacrifice (offering). After Abraham rescued Lot from captivity, Melchizedek, king of Salem, offered him bread and wine (to refresh him and his troops, according to bible scholars) then blessed him (1). When King Saul requested for David’s presence in his court to play that demon-intimidating-harp, Jesse obliged the king with not just his son, David, but also, with a bottle of wine alongside other food supplies as a token of homage and respect (2). We see Jesus restoring life to the party at a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee when he turned water into wine (3). In the Levetical order, God instructed the priests to make daily sacrifices on the altar with specific items including wine which was to be poured on the altar as a drink offering (4).
We could accord wine a celebrity status seeing all the important roles performed, but have we thought about the humiliation it undergoes to become so useful to God and man?
In the crushing
In the pressing
You are making new wine
The crushing and the pressing: From grapes to wine
“Crushing and Pressing” is a fundamental phase in wine production where grapes are stomped and pressed (by humans or mechanical presses) to produce juice. The exercise rips grapes of their skins, seeds and flesh, something as excruciating as the shredding of one’s skin from their bones just to get blood (I’m not trying to mess with your head, trust me). I don’t know how grapes endure all that, but if I were one I’d be sure to escape the field or commit suicide (however grapes do that) before the harvesters find me. What makes the experience a necessary evil, however, is all the potential extracted from their humiliating ordeal.
The first two lines of “New Wine” was all it took to get tears streaming down my lids. I saw myself as a cluster of grapes in the winepress undergoing unexplainable crushing and pressing. It’s in the adversities that exposed my insecurities, the seasons of lack, drought (emptiness) and confusion. It’s in vanities vying with my sanity; the embers of lust luring me from my one true obsession, Yahweh. I was pressed on every side and could barely find my breath. But in all of the crushing and pressing, Brooke points me to what the lord is doing: making new wine. Like juice extracted from the grapes’ ordeal, so is the master winemaker extracting sweet wine from my chaos. In the end, his love prevails, and this life pours before him as a drink offering.
In the soil I, now surrender
You are breaking new ground
Surrendering To the Soil: The Death of Self
Before the harvest, or the crushing and pressing of grapes, there is first, a surrendering to the soil. A seed gives up itself to rot and decay, hidden deep in the earth, unseen for a while. But after death and obscurity comes an identity: a shoot off the ground, growth, a harvest, and the production of wine. So is the man whose life is poured before the Lord as a drink offering. He surrenders himself to death- death to self. Hidden in the Almighty, he experiences seasons of obscurity where his growth only points downward, rooted in the Rock. But after a while, like that seed, he shoots out of obscurity, and after that, a drink bursting forth to the thirsty.
So I yield to you and to your careful hands
When I trust you I don’t need to understand
Despite knowing the goal of the pressing and crushing is new wine, surrendering to the soil is not a walk in the park. Death is a hard thing- death to our fleshly passions, manmade ideologies, and alluring vanities. In death we’re surrendering all that we are and will ever be into invisible hands we aren’t sure would have a firm grip of us. And although faith assures us we’ll be fine, adversity sometimes toys with our understanding. But the absolute surrender which “New Wine” embodies can only be attained when we trust that God is faithful and His intention for our lives exceeds our most profound ambitions. In the end, we all came here with nothing but all He has given us.
Where there is new wine
There is new power
There is new freedom
And the kingdom is near
I lay down my old flames
To carry your new fire today
Laying Down Old Flames, Carrying New Fire: The Goal of New Wine
In my observation, “New Wine” is the one song that summarizes the theme of the album, “there is more.” It has some much punch lines that hit the heart in a way that wakes one from a spiritual slumber or fuels an ongoing zeal for the lord. Whether the believer is on fire for God or experiencing a spiritual drought, “New Wine” leaves him with craving for more. But I discover many of us are indifferent to embracing MORE because we’re still enthralled by old flames- embers of yesterday’s move of the spirit. We glory in these things and go to sleep.
Thank God for old flames, but there is new fire. There is more- more revelation to get from the word, a deeper level of intimacy awaiting us in the place of constant communion with the spirit. There is a new word for today, new lives to be transformed, new songs to sing, and new ideas to implement. There is a river of living waters begging to burst from our inside to the world around us, another opportunity to extend the love of Jesus to a loveless world. There is so much more that of necessity, we’ll go through the winepress of the Elshaddai, the pruning of the vinedresser (5). We will die to self, say no to every lifestyle that’s anti our new priesthood in Christ (6), and each day, we will lay down our old flames to carry the new fire of the Almighty.
“Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runs out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wines into new bottles, and both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:17)
(1) Genesis 14:17-20
(2) 1 Samuel 16:14-20
(3) John 2:1-11
(4) Exodus 27:38-42
(5) John 15:2
(6) Revelation 1:6
Watch the video with lyrics here
Thank you for waiting for the first post on lyrics that speak. I promised to do this two Wednesdays ago, but flopped my own deadline. Life’s been in demand of my attention lately. I hope you forgive me for the delay, and trust this blesses you.
Do ask questions if there’s anything you aren’t sure about, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) for suggestions of amazing gospel and inspirational songs, and of course, do share your thoughts about today’s post on the comment box.