Every so often, the music and the lyrics of a song combine to make it truly powerful. Every so often, Hollywood comes up with something that is truly remarkable. Lately, I think both have happened…
Though I haven’t seen the movie (and don’t really want to), I’ve been profoundly struck by the song “From Now On,” part of the current film, The Greatest Showman. Regardless of what you think about the movie (assuming you’ve seen it), the song has a merit all its own. Perhaps without realizing it, “From Now On” reflects deep, life-changing truth. In fact, it’s a song of repentance. Let me see if I can demonstrate what I mean by walking through the lyrics, combined with a bit of commentary:
I saw the sun begin to dim, and felt that winter wind blow cold
A man learns who is there for him when the glitter fades and the walls won’t hold
Cause from then, rubble, what remains can only be what’s true
If all was lost, there’s more I gained, cause it led me back to you
(Here’s a man faced with the apparent ruins of his life. And yet, amidst the crumbled edifice of worldly success, there’s something still standing…something worth far more than everything he thinks he has lost…and it’s a person.)
From now on, these eyes will not be blinded by the light
From now on, what’s waited till tomorrow starts tonight…tonight
Let this promise in me start like an anthem from in my heart
From now on…from now on
(Faced with truth, our singer responds with new resolve. In fact, he responds with repentance. Repentance means to turn around – to turn away from one orientation, from one goal, from one way of life, from a false god – and to head in the opposite direction. Notice how pressing this repentance feels to our singer. It can’t wait until tomorrow. Repentance starts right now. This is what we call a moment of conversion. Notice also, this repentance can’t be merely superficial. In order to be real, it must begin from the heart.)
I drink champagne with kings and queens, the politicians praise my name
But those were someone else’s dreams, the pitfalls of a man I became
For years and years, I chased their cheers, the crazy speed of always needing more
But when I stop and see you here, I remember who all this was for
(With this stanza, we hear more about the false gods who previously dominated our singer’s life. It all looked good for the moment, but hob-knobbing with royalty and powerbrokers proved hollow and fruitless. In fact, this man realizes that the life he so longed for was nothing but a pitfall, even a deadly addiction. What a stunning moment of realization!)
And from now on, these eyes will not be blinded by the light
From now on, what’s waited till tomorrow starts tonight…it starts tonight
And let this promise in me start like an anthem in my heart
From now on…from now on…from now on
(Once again, we hear an expression of commitment, a resolve to walk anew from this moment forward. It is, if anything, an even stronger expression of newness than the first time around.)
[Joined by the choir]
And we will come back home
And we will come back home
(As our singer repents, his heart swells, such that his voice alone can no longer give full expression to what’s inside. Rather, he needs an entire choir to join him. As they together sing, the theme moves from repentance itself to the beautiful end of repentance, namely home).
From now on…Yes
Hugh Jackman and an accompanying group of singers repeat and revisit these lyrics, beautifully melding them together, all the while carried through on the wings of wonderful music. I highly recommend paying the $1.99 it will cost you to purchase “From Now On” via I-Tunes. Additionally, take six minutes and watch this YouTube account of a practice session during the song’s making. I can’t help but think that the life, the vibrancy, the joy you see in the video reflects people whose hearts are responding to a vision of repentance; to the God-given joy of repentance…even if they don’t know it…even if they see it from a distance. They’re tasting a little of the freedom that lies on the other side of repentance, and it’s infectiously intoxicating.
Now, of course this song isn’t perfect…it’s still far too “me” centric – “A man learns who is there for him when the glitter fades…” But, nonetheless, this work of art goes a long way down the road of biblical truth. It paints the majestic picture of a man awakening to his real need, responding in repentance, and looking forward to the peace of home. If you are familiar with the Bible’s grand narrative of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration, then you’ll know why such a storyline in song rings so powerfully. What this song encapsulates – albeit in a shadow-like fashion – is the beginnings of the Gospel. There’s one key figure missing, and that’s God himself. God the Father, who ordains a moment of utter brokenness in order to awaken his child to their sin and need; God the Son, whose life, death on the cross, and resurrection makes forgiveness of sin and repentance possible; God the Holy Spirit, who brings us to the point of singing such an anthem as this; God, who in his Triune unity, even now prepares a final home for those who, by grace through faith, follow Jesus Christ.
I don’t know if Hollywood understood what it was doing with such a song, but “From Now On” is a wonderful invitation. It’s a wonderful invitation to come and discover the truth at which the song so powerfully hints. Perhaps in this season of Lent (a season often associated with repentance) you might accept the invitation, repent of the cheers you chase, and discover in God’s Word the person who remains standing amid the rubble of your life…his name is Jesus.