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Jeremy Camp’s When You Speak a Declaration of God’s Goodness in Troubled Times

Chris Carpenter - Director of Internet Programming

Like so many people, the last 18 months have been the best of times and the worst of times for singer/songwriter Jeremy Camp.  While these COVID-fueled days have certainly provided critically valuable time spent with his family, it didn’t change the fact that he had to shut down a successful concert tour and experience the premature closing of a movie about his life called, I Still Believe.

However, more time at home has also provided ample opportunity for Jeremy to reflect upon God’s goodness in all situations and to praise God even when it didn’t make sense.

It is this innate desire for more of God that led to the recording of Jeremy’s latest album, When You Speak.  This latest project follows the chart-topping success of 2019’s The Story’s Not Over, an album that generated three number one hits, “Dead Man Walking”, “Keep Me in the Moment”, and “Out of My Hands”.

I recently spoke to Jeremy about his battle through unmet expectations of 2020, his declaration of God’s goodness on When You Speak, and his hope that it will lead people to a desperate desire to know Him more.

From a career standpoint, 2020 for you was the best of times and it was the worst of times. A new album had just released in late 2019, a movie about your life came out and then had to shut down three days later due to COVID. How did you navigate this season of disappointment and unmet expectations in your life?

That's such a good phrase, unmet expectations. When you said those words, it really kind of brought up something for me. It's been a hard but good year. It's very rare that you have those two together. It's been hard. It's been this and this and this and it equals good at the end.

Everything was going great with the movie. We had a great tour going on. The whole year was going to be great. And just everything that I thought was going to happen did not. And my wife came up to me one day and said, “Hey Jeremy, I want to let you know that God didn't break His promises. Listen. He never promised that your movie was going to last in theaters forever. He never promised that your tour wasn't going to get canceled and was going to keep going. You were never promised any of those things. What He promised was that He was going to use those things for His glory and His purposes.” And it was the Holy Spirit, with her dropping the mic and me just going, yeah, you're right.

Did He break a promise? No, actually He didn’t. He didn't at all. He never even promised that we wouldn't go through pain. He said in John 16:33, “Hey, I say these things to you. You're going to have trials and many kinds, but take heart, I've overcome the world.”

And it's like, okay. He actually did promise that. So, when you go through hardships, you have to expect that we live in a fallen world. It's going to happen. So, I had to piggyback on what you said because it was such a brilliant thought.

Through everything that happened last year and so far this year, you seem to declare God’s goodness in what was and maybe still is a hard situation.  How were you able to do that?

Honestly, it was a lot of ups and downs. A lot of searching and pursuing Him. I have desired to search the deeper things of God. Outside of Scripture, I just want to know Him deeper and more intimately. When I read Psalm 42:1 the other day, I thought this is the key to my pursuit of God.  “As the deer pants toward the water, so my soul longs after you, oh God.” And it was that understanding of, as I started realizing my desperate need for Jesus, realizing that when you're out in the wilderness, it's easy to get parched because you're not refueling with water. And of course, it’s living water.

So, the desire is I want to crave after Him, like a deer who has been in the wilderness that is parched from traveling and being hunted. And that I think has been the key. Not that I've always done a great job of that. But that is what I've really tried to pursue this year. I need to crave after Him more and more and let the things of the world grow strangely dim. That's the big thing. It’s just realizing what does the world have to offer? Nothing. It's tried to say, here's some hope, here's some peace, here’s some and joy and happiness. But wait a second. That's miserable at the end of that. In the moment, sometimes it’s fun, but you really find true peace and fulfillment in Christ alone.

Congratulations on the release of your new single, "When You Speak”. What was the inspiration for the song?

I think it really stemmed from the conversation that the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart when I was complaining about the pandemic. I felt like, God, I want to get through this. Just let us get through this. God, come on. It was that kind of feeling which I feel like we are still kind of doing that.

Let's just get through this. And there was such a very clear-cut thing that the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and said, “I want to get through to you during this.” This changed my whole trajectory of how I saw my relationship with God. I was like, God, teach me what you want to teach me. And I remember just getting to the point where, when I wrote this song, it starts off saying,

I find it's always the lie that is loudest.
I know the One with the power is never the one who is shoutin'

Basically, it is saying the enemy and all this fear, anxiety, and all those lies, for some reason, those are the loudest sometimes in our mind. And God is going, “I don't need to show. I have the power. So, if you just lean into me,” as the song continues to say, “I lean in through all the thunder. You whisper, even in doubt, you're with me.”

When you start leaning in and listen to His voice through all the chaos and the thunder, then that's what happens.

When You speak I'm found the sound of peace, be still,
the wind and the waves bow to Your will,
You drown my fear with a love more real, 
When You speak.

And I think that was just a release of going, whoa! When I started listening and pressing into Him, like Psalm 42, with craving Him and all those different things. He started speaking life, joy, hope and all those things were in overflow. That's where the song came from. And really, that's where the album came from. It was at that point; I was just trying to dig in deeper and let Him speak to my heart and teach me the things you want to teach me during this year. The whole album came out from that.

What makes this album shine and what is it that separates it from all your previous recordings?

That's so good. As I mentioned earlier, I've had so much time to process. God's well does not run dry. It's a deep well, so if you keep digging and keep going deeper, you're going to find deeper things. And I feel like that this album just had a jumpstart or a depth that is greater than I've had in a long time, in such a condensed amount of time. You're going to hear my albums and always hear progressions and always hear things that God's teaching me. But I think there's a condensed depth that's happened on this album that puts it a little spot above what I have previously done.

Is there any one track that sort of serves as the foundation or the cornerstone of the entire project? Is it the title track?

I think it would be the title track, but you can't just take the song as that's it. That first song is just a scratching the surface of what God was teaching me. And it's going to be a continuation throughout the album. This new album has some songs that are really close to my heart.

Like my latest single, “Steady Me.” It starts off saying,

You never said I wouldn't feel pain.
You never promised that I wouldn't break.
But You promised that You’d be right there when I did.
But You promise that you’d be right there with me till the end.

And it's like, hey, this world is a fallen world. We're going to face the harshest of times, all those kinds of things. But listen, you steady me. It goes,

Even when the ground I'm standing on begins to shake,
You set my feet, you steady me.
Even when my heart seems like it's tossed among the waves,
You steady me.
You won't skip a beat.
You steady me.

And I think it's that concept of going, we're going to go through shaky times. We're going to go through being tossed around. We're going to go through hardships. But in that, He steadies our feet. That is such a concept for this whole year. We're going to be going through tumultuous times, but He's going to steady us as we're walking through it.

There’s a song called “Here with You.” I wrote this song. It’s talking about how Jesus wept because I was talking to a friend about how sometimes going through hardships, especially a loss. He had gone through the loss of his brother and he was saying how people always try to say the right words to you. And sometimes, you just want someone to put their arm around you and say, I love you. And you just want them to be with you. That's it.

And so, we're talking about Jesus weeping and we’re like, that's it! We’re just saying that Jesus is there weeping with you. Sometimes people just want us to cry with them and that's it. I wrote this song and it starts by saying,

I don't know how you feel. I'm not going to try my friend.

It's basically saying, I'm not going to try to tell you the right words or anything, but I will say this. I know that He's weeping here with you. And it's funny, when I wrote that song I was so tired that day. I had nothing going into the writing session with my friend. And I was like, I don't know, but we just started talking and that came out. Boom. The whole song came out. I played it for my wife. She started weeping and she never does that.

Whoa. I was so tired, but I thought it was a good song. It was really heartfelt, but I was so exhausted from the week. That night my wife says, “Honey, do you realize that today was the 20th anniversary of Melissa (Jeremy’s first wife) dying?” And I was like, oh my goodness. It was like God saying, “I see you. I see you.” That song is for someone who's going through something, or a song for someone who doesn't know what to say to someone. It's a really an all-encompassing song that I'm really excited about because it's going to reach people where they're at.

After people have listened to When You Speak, what would you like to see your audience get out of the listening experience. What is your greatest hope for the album?

Honestly, it really is kind of what I talked about in the Psalms earlier in our conversation. I hope people will realize they're in desperate need and wanting to crave Jesus more. I'm hoping that this will lead people to that desperate desire to know Him more. I don't say that lightly or just as the cliché of wanting to draw people closer to Jesus. It's deeper than that. It's the realization that we have to go to the source of living water. We don’t even realize sometimes that we're going to be dehydrated spiritually. My heart is to point people to the living water that hydrates and that when we crave and pant towards that water, that's when we are satisfied.

Watch a Music Video for "When You Speak", the first single off Jeremy Camp's Latest Album:

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