Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)
Joel Houston, Matt Crocker, Salomon Ligthelm
You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep my faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sov'reign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
Oceans is a song that was really big in 2013 and the few years following. I personally doubt it will be sung much 30 years from now, as it seems to be losing steam quickly. The problem with radio worship songs is that they are hugely popular for a year or so, then are so overplayed that people grow tired of them. Still, this is a song that many churches are still singing, and we have on occasion, so I’ll take this 40th Exegeting the Hymns and look back at a song that swept the nation (pun intended).
My biggest problem with this song initially was the repetition. These words could be spoken in 30 seconds, but the song was over nine minutes. The excessive, almost comical repetition turned many off to some good lyrics without giving them a chance. When we sing it at our church, it lasts about 3 minutes, enough to make the point, teach the truth, and then move on.
You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown where feet may fail. This is clearly alluding to Jesus calling Peter out onto the waters in Matthew 14. The disciples were out on the boat heading to the other shore. Jesus met them out on the water, walking on top of it, and Peter initiated the idea of walking on the water by saying, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus replied, “Come”. This was a good object lesson of trusting and looking to Jesus in the midst of scary circumstances in our lives. There are unknown things we face, namely the future. God knows everything, but we do not. We must trust Him in faith daily. And there I find You in the mystery, in oceans deep my faith will stand. God has not revealed every detail of the future to us and we should be thankful for that. It is a mystery to our minds.
And I will call upon Your name, and keep my eyes above the waves. When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace, for I am Yours and You are mine. The faith and the power to trust in Christ everyday, comes from Christ Himself. It is because of His power that we are safe, because of His arms around us that we are secure. There is no need for a believer to be overwhelmed by life’s circumstances. Not only is it a poor testimony to the world, but it is unnecessary because we can look to a sovereign Lord.
Your grace abounds in deepest waters. Your sovereign hand will be my guide. Too often, we forget that God is sovereign, or don’t have a complete understanding of His sovereignty. God knows everything, past, present, future. God has a plan that will be accomplished from eternity to eternity. There is not a random molecule in this universe outside of His control (not even a sparrow falls to the ground without Him). Nothing happens that God does not either cause to happen, or allow to happen. When we understand that there are no accidents, luck, or karma, only providence, we can have true rest and true peace, regardless of the circumstances around us.
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, You’ve never failed and You won't start now. Jesus promised never to leave us nor forsake us. God promised to work all things together for our good. We see all over scripture that God is not only in control, but is faithful to His promises. This should eliminate fear, even from the most frightful of circumstances.
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters. Note here that Peter asked Jesus to “tell me to come to you on the water.” Then he stepped out, only after Jesus said, “Come”. Our trust does have, and should have borders only in that we are bound by what God has told us to do. One can’t do something contrary to God’s commands and trust that God will keep us from harm. We must first know what borders God has given us, and work within them. However, as long as the Holy Spirit is leading us, we will stay within His borders. The point of this line is not to let our fear construct borders short of where God is calling us to go.
Wherever You would call me, take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior. In our own power, we can do nothing (John 15:5), but we can do all things God calls us to do in His power (Phil. 4:13).
Bill Itzel has been a worship leader and singer/songwriter for over 30 years and is based in Westminster, MD. His family tours and leads worship around the country. Bill and his family attend Belcroft Bible Church in Bowie, MD. This is a blog about congregational worship and the latest news in the The Itzel's ministry.