“I Will Go On” is one of the most encouraging songs we’ve ever written. It is also one of the most discouraging, and I must say it was far easier to write than it is to live out. It is encouraging because it reminds us over and over to get the hard stuff into perspective, realign our worldview, and get the past behind us. It is one of the most discouraging – at least for me – because about the time I get to the place where I have put the past behind me on one issue in my life, repented for my attitude of resentment, self-deprecating regret, or paralyzing discouragement and asked God to help me refocus on Him and the future and surrender to the upward pull of His grace, some new life-tsunami sweeps into my life.
Perhaps that is why confession, repentance, trust in, and reliance on the work God has done (and not on our own abilities), gratitude and praise, and active compassion for others are all so essential to the ongoing faith life of believers.
“I Will Go On” comes to the surface for Bill and me as one of our favorites of the songs we have written. We have found that it is so basic to a healthy spiritual life to keep on forgiving not only others, but ourselves as well. It is so necessary to have the courage to admit it when we are less than gracious, to let go of bitterness and regret before it takes root, to embrace hope – both for ourselves and for those around us – and to choose to turn and face forward, as Paul said, “toward the prize set before us.”
Counselors tell us that this song is not only good theology, but good psychology as well. Baggage from the past can shut down our future. Grudges and resentment can sabotage the good relationships just waiting to be realized. Authorities say that kids who grow up around score-keeping and getting even or who hear their parents stewing on injustices (when has life been fair?), learn to come at life with their fists doubled up ready to take on the first person who crosses their path. From there it just becomes a matter of bigger weapons: fists, sticks, clubs, guns, bombs…until the whole earth becomes encampments of bullies, lying in wait to blow up the planet.
How incredibly revolutionary are the words of Paul and Timothy and their letter to the community of faith in Philippi:
You’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things
true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the
best, not the worst, the beautiful, not the ugly, things to praise,
not things to curse. (Philippians 4:8 The Message)
The cup of life holds only so much. In order to fill it with love, joy, peace, contentment, goodness, and progress, it must first be emptied of anger, blame, resentment, bitterness, grudges, and negative energies. It’s up to us.
The great news is that God promises to empower us for right living the minute we admit our failures and embrace His perfect work in us. “Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” (Philippians 4:13 The Message)