How many times have we finished some kind of service or missions work and felt like it was possibly more beneficial for us than the people we set out to serve? I am guessing this is not a foreign concept to many people—at least in hindsight. In my own life there have been countless ways in which I set out to do something for someone else and it came back to me like a boomerang. “Not Too Late” was one of those boomerangs—and when it came back to me I wasn’t expecting it. And it hit me in the head. And it hurt.
I wrote “Not Too Late” when I was on the road in North Carolina – the same day I wrote another song called “Not Bad Enough.” I was angry about some life decisions a friend had made and decided to write them an angry song. That is what “Not Bad Enough” was for. But that song undermined my self-righteous anger and reminded me that God’s love (as my love should be) is not conditional based on our good or bad life decisions. So after getting “Not Bad Enough” out of the way, I think I was ready to write “Not Too Late” for this friend. I wanted them to know that regardless of any “life decisions,” it is never too late to turn around, make amends and start again. (Just go to any church-basement 12-step meeting anywhere and you will hear stories of how true this is.)
The song was actually not well-received by the friend I wrote it for but I decided to put it on my record anyways. In the process of recording it, I had to hear those lyrics over and over again. The part of that boomerang that came back to hit me in the head and leave me bleeding was:
It’s not too late to come clean
And face all the fallout that there might be
It’s not too late to understand
Grace is more than a concept to believe in
I am not claiming that those lyrics are particularly magical or anything—but they were what I needed to hear. It is one thing to believe something for a friend and a completely different thing to believe it for myself. So I decided to trust the song instead of the rationalizations cycling in my own head and—in no small way—those lyrics that I had hoped would save a friend’s life were saving mine.