The Story Behind the Music Video

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The music video for There Is No Sin That I Have Done has been out for a couple of weeks now, and I'd like to share the story behind it. If you had asked me whether I'd ever make a music video as part of Reformed Praise a couple of years ago, I would have laughed, and laughed hard. I'm not naturally a great performing singer and could never have envisioned myself on screen in a production anything like you'd see on music television. Besides, I write worship songs – songs intended for congregations to sing – a genre whose songs are normally accompanied by music videos, unless they are of a live performance in a worship setting (like Hillsongs videos).

A friend and fellow member of my local church runs a music and video production studio, but I wasn't able to work with him on our last album, Merciful to Me. After the album was finished, I was approached by another member of our church, who asked me if I had any work I could give to the studio. Since I didn't have any music recording projects lined up, I couldn't envision anything in particular. But the Lord reminded me of his skills making videos, and the idea for a music video was born. With the funds in hand and the producer chosen, all that was needed was to choose a song and storyline.

Choosing the Song
We ended up choosing There Is No Sin because of its musical simplicity, the fact that all of the musicians were local to Minneapolis, and the fact that the lyrics vividly depict someone walking through an experience of the gospel and seemed to fit a graphic storyline well. This song is one of my favorites on the album. Steve Cook did a masterful job in the editing room pulling all of the pieces together to make something really special.

Choosing the Story
I sent the song and asked for storyline ideas from several creatively-minded friends, and most of the ideas were similar: depict someone caught in a particularly shame-filled sin pattern who hears the message of the gospel and responds, having been transformed by the grace of God. Since we couldn't use dialog, we had to choose a situation where the shame, guilt, brokenness, and loneliness were painfully obvious. Waking up in a hotel room, surrounded by visual reminders of inner defilement, seemed a natural choice.

The original plan was to feature a young woman caught in a life of prostitution (or simply adultery/fornication), who finds a gospel tract and follows it to church, where she is welcomed by someone who walks her through Scripture, then prays with her. She would then be led into a worship service where she would sing God's praises with a transformed countenance, perhaps even the song There Is No Sin. But plan A turned into plan B and plan C, since we couldn't muster enough extras to film a worship service. The producer decided to film the main character sitting alone in a sanctuary during off-hours – depicting a place of struggle, then rest. Instead of a pastor greeting her as she came in, we were able to find an older woman who took notice of the main character's sobbing and brought a comforting embrace as she listened to me singing the lyrics of the song.

How the Storyline Should Help You Engage with the Lyrics
My first reaction to the music video was to become frustrated with how long the main character stays in brokenness and loneliness. But as I watched it several times, I began to see the masterful intentionality that went into the timing of the storyline. As the song moves past forgiveness to walking in grace (second half of verse 2) and then love for Jesus and longing for future intimacy (verse 3), the main character remains largely still lost in sin and without the comfort of the gospel. But notice how she is living the opposite of what the song speaks of. When she lashes out in grief, the song speaks of Jesus bearing our grief. When she turns her face away from the scene of her sin, the lyrics speak of "no cause to hide my face." When she stands before her crimes, the song speaks of no work needed to "stand before His throne." And most powerfully, when she walks to the bus stop, completely alone physically and spiritually, the song speaks of knowing Jesus' love by faith and longing for an experience of his love.

In the final moments of the video, we are depicting the comfort of the gospel beginning to come into her life as she sits in a church building listening to me sing the song, and receives the loving advances of a believer reaching out to her with the love and warmth of Jesus through a careful and tender touch. The final scene is meant to hint at a transformation that has only just begun in her life.

Any More Videos to Come?
We don't have any concrete plans to make any more videos, but the Lord likes to surprise us. If you have any ideas or would like to help sponsor one, we'd love to hear from you!


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Got your suggestion - yes, I have simpler slide-based videos in the works so that we can get some stuff out on YouTube. This cinematic video was a pretty unique opportunity and I don't have specific plans to do another, but you never know!
» David Ward on November 14th, 2011
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