Pastoral Perspectives


When I first heard the song ‘Yet Not I But Through Christ in Me’ in 2018, I was immediately drawn to it. I listened to it a few times because the words, the music and whole structure of the song spoke to me at many levels. This song was written by CityAlight, a music ministry from a church in Castle Hill, Sydney, called St. Paul’s Castle Hill.

In one of their interviews, they shared that the ‘vision of CityAlight is to write songs with biblically rich lyrics and simple melodies for the Christian church to sing’. True to their vision, their songs have ministered to many people because of its simplicity yet rich Biblical lyrics.

In this time and age of songs galore, it has become increasingly hard to find songs that combines these two elements. I often find many good songs not suitable for congregational singing because it requires people to do what I would call ‘vocal somersaults’. When the melody goes too high, you lose half the church who can’t sing high. When the melody goes too low, you lose the other half. So I was pleasantly surprised to find such simple and enriching songs where the melody remains in the comfortable vocal range of everyone. Above all, their songs can be sung with minimal musicians which works for many smaller churches.

On the theme of the song, the writers added, “This is an exploration of one of the greatest mysteries of the Christian faith. Having Christ in us calls together two apparently paradoxical ideas: we contend for the faith and we do it with Christ’s energy (Colossians 1.29, ‘To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me’). Having Christ in us does not mean we do no more work, and neither does it mean we do it all. Rather, we contend and we contend with his energy. Even our final resurrection is made possible by the gift of Christ in us. He will bring us to glory. In our weakness he is strong, and he will complete the work he has begun. He himself is within us, leading us home, step by step. Every believer has been given this gift. It’s worth singing about!”

As I read the lyrics of this particular song, it dawned upon me that actually this song traces the journey of every believer who has come to know Jesus Christ. It reminded me of my own spiritual journey which began many years ago.

“Loli, please come to the front and say something. You have not spoken a word and I want to hear you say something” said my 3rd grade teacher. I was shy, timid and rarely heard. Over the next few years, I would continue to remain in my shell and hardly speak in front of others.

Things began to change when I accepted Christ at a Music Camp and studied Music in college. With the new skill learnt, I was forced to come out of my shell because I had to stand in front of people and conduct choirs. I realized that I was slowly becoming bolder and more confident. It was not easy because I always wanted to retreat into my shell. It took a lot of energy for me to up there. I would be totally drained and exhausted after standing in front of people- whether it was conducting, teaching or sharing. Over the years, God continued to work in my life through many ups and downs but not giving up on me. How true that God did not give us a spirit of fear or timidity (2 Tim 1:7).

CityAlight shared that it took them 12 weeks (3 months) to write this particular song! They had to dive deep in the idea of what it meant to have Christ dwell in all of us – the incredibly profound yet mysterious truth. It needed time as they had to rewrite it many times, struggling for every word. But by taking time and slowing down they realized the words were richer. It is the same with our spiritual journey. As we soak in God’s word and His grace in our lives, we will become richer as Christ continues stay by our side, strengthening us in our weaknesses. The journey continues and we still have a race to run.

Recently, I reconnected with one of my classmates from my 3rd grade. I was very surprised to learn that he is pastoring a church. He was even more surprised to know about me because he knew me as the quiet and shy student called out to the front. We both had a good laugh but concluded that it is only because of God’s grace that we were called out to many gracious and merciful journeys, ‘yet not I but through Christ in me.’

 Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me
Jonny Robinson | Michael Farren | Rich Thompson
© 2018 CityAlight Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing (Integrity Music, David C Cook))

What gift of grace is Jesus my redeemer
There is no more for heaven now to give
He is my joy my righteousness and freedom
My steadfast love my deep and boundless peace
To this I hold my hope is only Jesus
For my life is wholly bound to his
Oh how strange and divine I can sing all is mine
Yet not I but through Christ in me

The night is dark but I am not forsaken
For by my side the Saviour he will stay
I labour on in weakness and rejoicing
For in my need his power is displayed
To this I hold my Shepherd will defend me
Through the deepest valley he will lead
Oh the night has been won and I shall overcome
Yet not I but through Christ in me

No fate I dread I know I am forgiven
The future sure the price it has been paid
For Jesus bled and suffered for my pardon
And he was raised to overthrow the grave
To this I hold my sin has been defeated
Jesus now and ever is my plea
Oh the chains are released I can sing I am free
Yet not I but through Christ in me

With every breath I long to follow Jesus
For he has said that he will bring me home
And day by day I know he will renew me
Until I stand with joy before the throne
To this I hold my hope is only Jesus
All the glory evermore to him
When the race is complete still my lips shall repeat
Yet not I but through Christ in me

When the race is complete still my lips shall repeat
Yet not I but through Christ in me
Yet not I but through Christ in me

As often as we sing this song, may we contend for our faith in Christ’s energy, knowing that our Shepherd will lead us through the darkest valley and bring us home.

Pr Loliro Sani

February 28, 2021