Jonathan and Melissa Helser are worship leaders and songwriters whose hearts yearn to see a generation encounter the love of God. The songs they sing come from the journeys they have taken and the albums they have recorded come from their collisions with God’s love. Join Melissa and Jonathan as they share the story of their song, “Explode My Soul.”
We went through a season with a lot of tension. We like to say that without tension, you can’t make music. You take the tension out of any instrument and it doesn’t sing anymore. Tension is really beautiful if you know the One who is allowing the tension. He’ll never allow the tension to get so tight that it breaks you.
I was diagnosed with a bone disease when I was 17, then radically healed. I met Jonathan and we got married, then a year later we got pregnant and had our first baby boy, Cadence. After that, the disease came back pretty hardcore.
The doctors told me I would never play guitar again because of my bone disease. Then on our ninth anniversary, I told Jonathan that I think that I can play guitar again. (I was doing much better due to some breakthrough medicine and starting to get some feeling back in my joints and hands.) So for that anniversary, he bought me a 1979 Guild which is a glorious American-made guitar. He got it from a guy on Craigslist. Jonathan calls him and the guy says, “I’m the only one who has owned this guitar… I used to be a part of this ministry called Last Days Ministries, I don’t know if you’ve heard of it.” (That’s Keith Green’s ministry!) Jonathan is like, “uhhh, i’ll be there in an hour!”
Whenever I am in a wilderness season, singing is really just for relief. When it got too tense, I would sing to the Lord just to release the tension. It was beautiful! I really fell in love with the Lord in the darkest seasons of my life. So, Jonathan gives me the guitar and leaves. I lean down into the sound hole of the guitar and said, “I know that you’ve had songs in you since you were born. You have to give them up. I know that there are songs hidden in there for me!” That night, I wrote Explode My Soul.
For me, you have to understand, I am totally contending for my own healing. Every day I say to the Lord, “If today is the day, I am totally wide open”. But I am also so thankful for the medicine I am on. And the Lord isn’t reduced to what I think is the perfect, proper way to do things. He’s so much bigger. For me, Explode My Soul is really an anthem that I’m still singing over myself. Every time I sing it, I can declare over myself, “Hello promised land. I’ve waited for so long…” When I wrote those lines, I had feeling in my hands for the first time in seven years. There was so much hope. There was light at the end of the tunnel. It’s like I could breathe again. There was so much tension inside my soul that it literally felt like it was going to explode.
For me, singing “What He promised is what He gave” is a bit ironic, because it’s not about the healing, it’s about Him giving us His nature, the cross, the resurrection. Every time I sing it, I am so overwhelmed by the goodness of God and swept up into the promise of abundance and life with the Holy Spirit. I’m like “ugghhh! I love singing this song!” It reminds me why I’m a songwriter – because I have a desire to see an entire generation stand up into who they really are. Even in the hardest seasons, I believe you can thrive if you actually reach out and take hold of the gift of the Holy Spirit.
It’s been a long journey. It felt like that night when I gave her the guitar was like the scene from Lord of the Rings where the king who has run from his destiny is given a sword. And when the king was given his sword, the word of the father who had gone before him was, “Become the man you were born to be!”
I felt like I got to play a part in her story that God is writing; like I got to enter in and say, “Here’s a sword… A sword of hope.” We’ve been married 14 years, and when we got married, I had no clue that we would eventually record music together. This is something that we sort of stumbled into. I am so proud of my wife! She is the bravest woman I have ever met! The way that she has clung to Jesus and trusted Him, no matter what the enemy said, she’s like, “No! He is a good Father!” She’s taught me so much about worship.
We had this season where the fear of death was trying to rob all of the joy and the life out of us. Even irrational fears of Melissa dying before she sees her grandchildren. We were both battling against this fear of death. She was REALLY sick. As a husband, I wanted to do whatever it took to rip the roof off and lower her into the arms of Jesus.
We went to sleep one night and I woke up out of a dream and I was humming this melody… I was in this half-sleep singing, “Before your feet, dance upon streets that are golden. In your arms, you will hold your children’s children.” I realized that this was Papa’s song. A song of life. The opposite of death! I went downstairs and wept for like an hour singing that song.
So for her birthday, my friend and I went into the studio and recorded the song. Then a friend of mine who plays the dulcimer laid down an hour of instrumental music. I got forty of our friends to stand in the room and intercede while he played the dulcimer. The iPod shuffle had just come out, so we gave her one with the song that I had written (that the Father had sung over us) and an hour of instrumental music. She would play the song of hope over her body to be the opposite of the fear that she was battling. Those songs like Explode My Soul have pulled us out of the darkness. They are like a garden that we can walk with the Father in, and we can start to see the way that He sees.