Grace When You Don’t Do Anything

9 03 2009



Sam Phillips is like an old friend.  I even knew her when people called her Leslie.   Leslie Phillips was one of the biggest “Contemporary Christian” artists of the 1980’s until the artistic limits the industry placed upon her sent her into the mainstream market.  If Phillips’ music is anything, it is creative with spiritual themes flowing through her music like a “River of Love”.  Since leaving the Christina market, she has met incredible critical success but her commercial success has been limited, peeking with her stint as the in-house songwriter for the television series “Gilmore Girls”.  

Phillips latest album is not only creative but is brutally honest as well.  The album clearly is an open testimony of a life lived through the heartbreak of a difficult divorce from her husband, producer T- Bone Burnett.  Each song is like a journey through the valley of betrayal, loneliness, heartache, and stubborn faith through what Chesterton called the “dark night of the soul”.

Leslie Phillips may have left “Christian music” in 1987 and changed her name to Sam, but her lyrics have demonstrated that she never left Christianity. “Don’t Do Anything” is the strongest example of that.  On the surface, the album seems dark but, when one looks deeper, convictions about God’s grace are clearly stronger than the questions which are asked.

At first glance the title song ”Don’t Do Anything” seems odd and out of place on this album.  It is surrounded by other songs which delve into the frailties and inadequacies of human love.  But, it would appear that this was by design.  Phillips apparently understands the necessity to show “ungrace” and its painful effects before revealing the beauty of God’s grace. Human love can lead to broken hearts, often has strings attached, and offers no guarantees.  It is conditional.  However, God’s grace is unconditional; it is eternal and dependable.  Phillips states it well:

“I, I love you 

When you don’t

When you don’t do anything

When you’re useless

I love you more

When you don’t do anything


When you don’t move, when you don’t try

When you don’t say anything

When you can’t feel, When you don’t win

When you don’t make anything”


For those who have come to the end of themselves and realized their own frailties, it is as if God is speaking from heaven.  One can almost see a broken hearted wife and mother who sees her world has collapsed around her and, like Psalm 46, whose foundations have collapsed.   But, in the midst of her despair, she hears the voice of God say “I love you even when you have blown it, but I love you more than that.  Be still and know that I am God because I love you even when you don’t do anything.”

“I, I love you

When you don’t 

When you don’t do anything

When you don’t want, when you don’t lie

When you don’t make any sense

When you don’t go, when you don’t hide

When you don’t think anything


I, I love you 

When you don’t

When you don’t do anything

When you’re useless

I love you more

When you  don’t do anything.”

Go read Psalm 46 and then don’t do anything but know that you are loved.






7 responses

11 03 2009

Hi thanks for a great post. I’ll be back 🙂

14 03 2009
Luke Bobo

Thanks, Darian – what great lyrics! Grace, grace and more grace!

blessings my friend and brother,


20 03 2009

Darian – thanks for the post. I have every “Leslie” album. I had the biggest crush on her when I was in my 20’s (who didn’t??!). “The Turning” album is still a favorite of mine and one I find comfort in. I’ve wondered about her faith during her “Sam” years. I heard a recent interview with her on NPR where she stated her faith was still very real and deep. It sounds like God is still using her voice, even in the midst of her brokenness, to be a source of His grace. I look forward to downloading her new CD.


19 06 2009

I still wish Sam would write that book exposing contemporary “christian” music for what it really is and was when she was suckered into it.

15 09 2009

You forgot her silent role in Die Hard III. She made some great music, but lost track of her in the mid 90’s. One of these days I’ll have to listen to the new one.

15 09 2009

@Cavman: She’s currently on tour.

19 09 2009

I haven’t really been paying attention to the music scene in the last decade… but I do have a Sam Phillip album (Martinis and Bikinis) that I’ve always enjoyed!

thank you for reminding me of her.

Funny thing, I had no idea she was ever a “Contemporary Christian Music” Recording artist.

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