In her new album, Invisible Empires, contemporary Christian artist Sara Groves explores the world we see and the world we don’t.
An accomplished artist, Groves is embarking on her 10th project, which is aimed toward awakening listeners to the things that are real and should be kept close to heart in a society filled with so many trivial distractions that consume our time.
Always providing thought-provoking and soul-touching lyrics, Groves took time out to fill BREATHEcast in about her new record and the journey it took her on.
BC: The title “Invisible Empires” is a statement all in itself. What was the inspiration and meaning behind it?
Groves: Well, the title “Invisible Empires” comes from the song “Obsolete,” which I think is the second song on the record. [In the song] I’m looking at these two skylines. One would be man-made, with fervor – the works that we do on our own apart from God. We’re striving and trying to put all these things together. We’re creating – often living – literally in virtual worlds. We’re online with virtual friendships and virtual worlds. In the meantime there are real people in our lives who … want our love and want to love us. And I feel like we often turn to this man-made and this sort of frenetic life, this work apart from God, kind of like our own Babel, our own Tower of Babel.
And then there’s this other skyline and that’s the skyline that God is constantly working on. To me, that is our reality. Paul says that we can see what is through the unseen. You know, the spiritual world, we can’t always see it and yet it’s very real.
And I feel like the way God works is eternal and it lasts; it’s meaningful, it has substance. Even though I can’t see it always [and] I can’t see God at work, the things that He does in my life are more permanent and are more real.
… We’re walking down the streets of invisible empires. I want to be about the real things of God.
BC: Your songs always seem to come from a very deep place. How do you go about writing them? How do you find inspiration?
Groves: Well, I love to read, and I just listen to people talk and I write a lot from my own experiences, too. “Obsolete” – a lot of that song is about feeling kind of left out. To me, the Internet makes everything feel like there’s not enough, you know? You can’t answer your email fast enough or on time. There’s just always somewhere to be. You get this feeling like you might always be missing something. That song, I just was wrestling with those feelings in my own self, and I wrote and worked those thoughts out at the piano.
I’ve always done that. I’ve always worked out my thoughts and my feelings out through music, so a lot of it is just my own relationships and stuff, my own marriage and friendships. But I love to read and this album was inspired a lot by this book called A Long Obedience In the Same Direction, which was written by Eugene Peterson. It’s a lot about discipleship. The tagline to the book says “Discipleship In An Instant Society.” How do we go deeper with God when everything is sort of right at our fingertips?
BC: One of my favorite songs on the album is “Open My Hands.” What’s the story behind this song?
Groves: I wrote this song with Alli Rogers, who is a great songwriter out of Nashville, and I was talking to her about the verse. You know it says in Psalms “He withholds no good things from those who love Him,” and I said, “You know, that verse is hard for me to process. I know that it’s true in my own life, yet it’s hard for me to process that He withholds no good thing.”