I was listening to Josh Garrels’ album from 2015 titled “Home” the other day and I was reminded how this album really got me through a difficult season. I don’t even remember how I discovered this album because I honestly don’t even listen to any of his other music. But I really enjoyed the sound and the lyrics of this album. Now I’m not a musician so I’m not going to give an official review. I’m just going to share how this album helped me process what I was feeling during this season.
Last year, my wife and I were living in Stockton and we didn’t really have a lot of family around. My parents were 3 hours away and so were my in-laws. We had a close group of friends but we had 2 kids and we were starting to really feel the weight of not having our family around. We wanted our kids to grow up around their grandparents.
At this point, I had been living in Stockton for 9 and a half years. My parents were living in Visalia. I had never lived in Visalia but I went to junior high and high school in Porterville which is about 30 minutes away. Visalia started to feel like home for me because my parents and siblings were there. When I moved to Stockton, I wanted to get out and do my own thing. I honestly never thought I would live in the Visalia area again. But with my family there, I started to really miss it.
Josh Garrels has some lyrics on this album that really spoke to these longings. Even the sound of the music, I really related to. It opens with this almost oldies style sound and then concludes with this more country/folk sound. This oldies sound reminded me of my family and even though I’m not a fan of country music, it reminded me of the Visalia area.
Throughout the album, there are themes of missing and longing to return home. There are lyrics that deal with remembering who you are and where you are from. Lyrics like, “I’m my mother’s child, I’m my father’s son” and “Forgot where I came from, Somewhere back when I was young, I was a good man’s child”. During this time, I really felt like my relationship with my dad got better as well. Not that it was bad before, but he was really there for me during a really hard time, and we got a lot closer because of it.
There are also themes of God calling us back to him. Now I wasn’t running away from God but I felt distant from him. I didn’t feel that he was close or that he was giving me any direction with my life. After 7 months of prayer, we believed God was calling us to move to Visalia.
In the song, “At The Table”, Garrels wrote these lines that really spoke to the latter part of this season:
So I put my hand upon the plow
Wipe the sweat up from my brow
Plant the good seed along the way
As I look forward to the day
When at last I see
My Father run to me
Singing oh, my child
Come on home, home to me
And I will hold you in my arms
And joyful be
There will always, always be
A place for you at my table
Return to me
Reading these lyrics right now is even bringing me to tears. After building a life in Stockton, it seemed that God was calling me to return home. To my family and to the area that I spent a good majority of my childhood in. God was never distant from me, I was just growing in my dependence on him. I had never felt the “fatherly” love of God like that before. I was like a worried and hurt little boy that needed my dad. And I got that with tons of conversations with my dad and through my prayer life. It was like my relationship with my Heavenly Father grew stronger while my relationship with my earthly father grew stronger.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out this album, you should give it a listen: https://open.spotify.com/album/4Oj3NQVZjlhji59z6bSKl1