Brother Isaiah sees music as God's "love language" for him.
Brother Isaiah Marie Hoffman is a member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal currently living at St. Juan Diego Friary in New Mexico. Brother Isaiah’s first EP, Broomstick, debuted in the Top 10 for Amazon’s Singer/Song Writer Albums. He is currently working on his first full-length album.
CECILIA MUSIC: Dear Brother Isaiah, tell us about your song “Receive Me.” What inspired you to write it?
More than anything, I think the experience of having my “grip on life” loosened by God through unexpected changes and failed plans in my day to day life provoked this song. These aren’t often very enjoyable or comfortable moments but they are incredibly potent and can bring about deeply beautiful new things in our lives. Ultimately, these moments are intended to bring about that sweet surrender that brings us the peace our hearts are looking for. But it begins by God’s interruption of our plans; then we are faced with the struggle to surrender to that interruption. The wild and unexpected part of all this is that in the wake of the struggle, we find ourselves deeply and profoundly aware of just how good His plan is and just how unwearied and deep His love is for us. This song was me working this out with God and wondering at the beauty of His ways, but it starts by being disturbed by His ways and just how different they are than our own sometimes.
You sing “To you, O Lord, I abandon everything.” How can we achieve this, from your standpoint? Which steps are necessary to really entrust everything in the hands of God?
Brother Isaiah: The good news is that we can’t achieve this but He can in us. That takes some of the pressure off. We can, however, struggle to cooperate. And that’s our part, the struggle … to struggle to let go, or rather to allow Him to “loosen our grip” and eventually let go in us. The only way is prayer. Honestly, there is no other way. Prayer alone brings this about. But by prayer, I don’t just mean vocal prayer. It can be the prayer of the “gut.” Crying out to God, telling Him just how we feel, telling Him why it’s difficult; whatever the gut is saying, God can handle it. And not only that, He also wants to hear from us. He wants us to speak to Him honestly. And once we’ve shared, once we “get it all out,” we wait, we listen, we give Him silence, space to speak, space to work. And the mind-blowing fruit of this is that when we are honest with God about our inability to abandon everything, He can mysteriously, quietly, and tenderly brings this abandonment about in us. It’s more His work than ours, but it does require of us real honesty, an openness to Him, perseverance in prayer, and then waiting on Him, who never fails to come to us if we are honestly longing for Him. “Pray and do not lose heart,” as St. Paul says. Keep knocking; abandonment is a gift which He desires to give us.
What are the fruits of abandoning everything to Him?
Brother Isaiah: The fruits are boundless (and awesome). I think of the journey of surrender something like a “pinata party.” We’re blindfolded and we keep swinging away, frustrated and angry at first, and then we get a “hit”, a “piece of it ”… “Hey, there’s something here!” And then we get another “hit.” The struggle for surrender starts to bring something about, little by little, one swing at a time, and then … just when we least expect it …”KABOOM!” The pinata of our heart breaks open and treasures gush forth for us and for all those around us. The fruits of surrender are always more than we can imagine or hope for, but they include peace, joy, light-heartedness, love, gentleness, forgiveness, new awareness of the Father’s unwavering love for us. Ultimately, when God brings about this abandonment in us, a new horizon opens up for us. The world seems new and fresh, the future opens up as a thing full of hope, and the present opens up as a wonderful thing touched with eternity. We sense a bit of heaven here and now as God brings us into that love He has for us which is eternal. Honestly, words fail to describe the fruits … just go struggle for it so you can discover the fruits yourself!
Why music as a ministry?
Brother Isaiah: I guess I would say more “music as a way of living” than a ministry. Music has always moved me deeply. I see now that it has been something of a love language—a way God has spoken to me and a way He has given me to speak to Him. One thing I think everyone loves about music is that it is a place where someone can articulate the thoughts of their heart. In this way, it is an incredible vehicle of prayer and a great way to “work out” the stuff we don’t understand within us. I enjoy sharing this with people because it’s something we’re all working on, navigating the mysterious places of the heart and searching for the God of peace who is hidden there.
Why the title, “Receive Me (I’m Yours)”?
Brother Isaiah: Because life with God is a “love” thing. It’s not about mechanical obedience or some sort of indentured servitude. It’s a love relationship. Ultimately, it’s a handing over of all that we are anda receiving ofall that He is. It’s both the romance of the wedding day and the life long struggle that brings about the interior realization of wedding promises in a couple. It’s a beautiful thing, a messy thing, and a challenging thing. But it’s worth everything; it’s what we were made to discover. To know the unwearied love God has for us is worth everything. Ultimately, it seems to me this life and all its struggle is about coming to know more and more that “I’m His” and just how beautiful and penetrating a thing that is.
What do you have in the works now?
Brother Isaiah: Currently, I am working on an album which I hope to be able to release in the fall. It will be a full length CD and hopefully a “next good step” since the EP Broomstick (May 2016). The new project has been a huge gift and definitely a journey of discovery, full of plenty of good struggles. I’ve been able to work with a great group of musicians, an awesome producer, and many good friends throughout the process. I’m really grateful for it; the creative journey is such a joy. I look forward to sharing it, along with some other works that I hope to go with it.
Where can we find “Receive Me”?
Name: Br. Isaiah Marie Hoffman
Hometown: Sausalito, California, USA
Current City: Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Latest Album: Broomstick
Curiosity: Br. Isaiah will begin studies for the priesthood in September 2018.