We live in a world that moves much too fast. Demands rush towards us and expectations hover over us, making it difficult to simply stop and take time to hear from God. Meredith Andrews knows those challenges all too well, yet as the songs on her sophomore album demonstrate, something remarkable happens when we seek God’s voice and are willing to wait As Long As It Takes.
Following her 2008 Word Records debut, The Invitation, Andrews’ ministry expanded dramatically beyond her duties as worship leader at Chicago’s Harvest Bible Chapel. Her insightful songs and engaging voice made her one of the Christian music community’s most acclaimed new artists. Songs like “You’re Not Alone” saturated Christian radio and Andrews found herself touring with Michael W. Smith on his “A New Hallelujah” Tour. Needless to say, when she met with producer Jason Ingram to begin work on her new album, the young artist felt the weight of expectation and the pressures that accompany success. “Jason and I had scheduled a songwriting appointment and I just told him ‘I don’t have any ideas and even if I did, I feel like they would be inauthentic, contrived and I just never want that,’” she confessed. “I wanted the songs to be genuine and things that God was teaching me, but I had nothing, just a numb feeling like I had nothing to give. I was empty, tired and feeling this pressure. It’s the music industry and when you’re writing for your sophomore record, they say that’s the hardest to write. I was trying to prove myself.”
As Andrews poured her heart out to her friend, the title track, “As Long As It Takes”, was born. “I was saying all of this to Jason and he just started writing it down,” Andrews recalls. “I got tears in my eyes because it started ministering to me. It was the honesty of it all and saying to the Lord ‘Okay God, this is where I am. I’m helpless. I’m empty and dry, but I’m just going to sit here until you fill me and wait until you speak… until you move me. I don’t think God is afraid of our questions. I don’t think God is afraid of us coming to Him with our honest heart. When we get alone with the Lord and say, I’m just going to wait for You, in His love is where we find our rest. That was it for me. I just needed to stop striving so much and trying to prove myself and to rest in the grace that God had already extended to me.”
Andrews became familiar with that grace at an early age. A native of Wilson, NC, she began singing in church when she was only six, and by the time she was in high school, she was writing songs and leading worship. Andrews went on to attend Liberty University, majoring in family and child development. An only child, whose parents adopted three of the many boys they had fostered over the years, Meredith originally planned to work at an orphanage, however, during her junior year at Liberty, she felt God calling her into music ministry. He continued to guide her path, opening the doors for her to lead worship at the 12,000-member Harvest Bible Chapel and then to achieve a national platform as a recording artist with Word Records.
I wanted the songs to be genuine and things that God was teaching me, but I had nothing, just a numb feeling like I had nothing to give. I was empty, tired and feeling this pressure. It’s the music industry and when you’re writing for your sophomore record, they say that’s the hardest to write. I was trying to prove myself.
As she did on her debut album, Andrews wrote or co-wrote every track on As Long As It Takes. “It means a lot to me to be able to say the things that are really on my heart,” she says citing such songs as her new single “Can Anybody Hear Me.” “Co-writing is a blessing to me because when you get another perspective in the room, it opens up a whole new door to the song. That’s why I’ve enjoyed writing with Jason and other writers. It’s just great to be able to say what’s really on your heart and to have others help you do that.”
Among the collaborators on her new album are acclaimed worship leader Paul Baloche, whose credits include such anthems as “Open the Eyes of My Heart” and “Above All.” For her new album, Andrews, her husband, Jacob, and Baloche collaborated on “How Great is the Love.” “I’m just honored that we got to do that with him because I’ve learned so much from him,” says Andrews. “He poured into us and fed us. I just loved to hang out with him and his wife. It was the neatest experience and songwriting came naturally. We were in his living room and started praying and this song came out of that prayer. It was a really sweet moment.”
Two of the most powerful songs on the new album were inspired by people dear to Meredith’s heart. “What it Means to Love” was inspired by a little boy named McKinsley she met doing mission work in Haiti. “He just has this sweet spirit and this wisdom, even as a six-year-old little boy,” says Andrews, who just returned from a trip to Haiti right before the devastating earthquake hit. “I don’t know if he fully understands HIV and the disease he has. He just loves life. He just has such a vibrant personality. I just know the Lord has a plan for his life. He’s already used this little boy in my life. I wouldn’t have written this song if I hadn’t been so stirred and moved by him and by my experience at this orphanage.”
“Come Home” is a poignant song written for her brother that not only expresses the unconditional love of a caring sister, but also the mercy and grace of our eternal father. “I’ve just watched the Lord do such a work in his heart,” says Andrews. “He’s wrestled with a lot of things and struggled with alcohol since he was 14 and now he’s 20. He got in trouble with the law, but it’s crazy how God can take things like that, our mistakes, and then reveal himself. He revealed his mercy and grace in the midst of that. My favorite part in the song is in the bridge where it says ‘you’re not a disappointment to me, you’re just like the rest of us struggling through the journey,’ and it’s true. For some of us it’s a harder struggle than others, but God is just writing our story and showing us his love.”
On As Long As I Takes, Andrews continues to write songs that share her story and strike a chord with other believers. “This is my life and what God has been teaching me in the last year,” says Andrews recalling one particularly powerful moment late at night. “I just sat straight up and it’s like the Lord just spoke to me so clearly and said ‘Meredith, your life is not the story of your pursuit of me, but it’s the story of my pursuit of you.’ It changed everything for me because my pursuit of God is so inadequate, faulty, and inconsistent, but God’s pursuit of me is constant, relentless and unfailing.
My hope is that in these songs they’ll see the love of God more; maybe these songs will challenge them in their walk with the Lord and in turn, they’ll just run after him. That’s my hope”
Official Site: Meredith Andrews