Lincoln Brewster’s popular song “Today is the Day” seems like a flash in a pan. I think its popularity has peaked (KLOVE plays seem to have lessened). I have no doubt that churches are using it. Brewster writes accessible, singable melodies and has a gift for crafting texts which are accessible and easy to remember. He has given new vitality to a passage that is well-worn in Christian worship–Psalm 118:24 (though check out the TNIV’s translational decision about this passage, which, if correct, means that this passage is saying something different than what we’ve thought). The song seems to be putting lyrical feet to “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…,” and that is always a welcome reflection in worship and the broader Christian life. However, the first verse is theologically troubling:
I’m reaching my hand to Yours
Believing there’s so much more
Knowing that all You have in store for me is good
It’s a simplification at best, and a distortion at worst, of a popular and powerful passage of Scripture:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Cutting to the chase, the thrust of this passage is quite different than Brewster has construed it. To the contrary, not all that God has in store for us is good. God just promises to work good in all things (be they good or bad). This is a huge misunderstanding of this passage which has led to prosperity gospel thinking, crippling the church by stripping it of a theology of suffering. Jesus prayed for the church,
“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15).
This and other countless passages let us know that trial and tribulation is something the church WILL experience (we’re not going to be removed from the world and its suffering). And trial and tribulation are NOT good. Yet Romans 8 reveals that God can and does use them in the lives of His people for good ends.
Trying to be fair to Brewster, I can think that perhaps Brewster has this in mind as he writes this verse. “All you have in store for me is good,” perhaps, is looking at the end after the trials. However, this is so touchy and potentially damaging when misunderstood that it’s not good to leave things fuzzy on this issue. So I land a bit harder on Brewster than on “Mighty to Save” because the collateral damage is potentially much more devastating. What would a new Christian do, upon believing this, with future trials? I fear they would despair in their faith, believing God to be a liar.
So my plea to my brother and colleague, Lincoln Brewster, is: Please rewrite this section. Please use it as a teaching point for the church. Maybe run new potential songs by some pastors/teachers/theologians you trust to give honest feedback about the content before you publish and record.
Given that my attempts at gaining permissions from major labels like Integrity’s Hosanna! (Brewster’s label and administrator) for lyric changes have all been denied, it doesn’t appear I can use this song in our church. I’m nervous about the misinterpretations that it could yield and, as a teacher (which all worship leaders are, whether they acknowledge it or not) being held accountable for giving bad food to God’s sheep (James 3:1).
Worship leaders, I humbly urge you to think critically about using this popular song in your worship services.