Story Behind the Song
"Diamonds to Coal"
CCM October 2000
by Terry Scott Taylor
"Diamonds to Coal" is built around a negligibly clever little juxtaposition. Naturally, it should be titled "Coal to Diamonds." Witty, eh? More serious is its lyrical content, which is basically my shady attack against "prosperity doctrine." In "Diamonds" it takes the form of a repentant rich man's broken prayer. He hopes to get himself and his camel through the eye of a needle. "Change my highs to lows, Lord," he is praying. "Turn my diamonds into coal/Allow me to truly partake in the fellowship of Your suffering."Before I wrote it for the Lost Dogs' Gift Horse project, I was thinking the very pragmatic thought that we needed more up-tempo material. As they say, "from such sows ears, silk purses are made" or, if you lack appreciation for this song, you are free to mentally cut and paste the reverse of said proverb.
Still, the sentiment is a worthy one. And as an expression of the truth of my heart's desire it is, by God's grace, an accurate one. In this sense I believe God "gave me the song." The character in the song is crying out for redemption, but it is my prayer as well, and the offering isn't made lightly. It is uttered with a stammering heart and a stuttering tongue. Do I really want God to change my "diamonds to coal"? Heaven forbid! Who wants to suffer? You'd have to be a masochist. But if in asking for God's will to be done in my life, suffering eventually comes-if it is part of the package so to speak-then may God be merciful and so be it.
It's my belief that intimacy with Christ comes essentially through this means, thus the song's subject matter. If "Diamonds to Coal" connects with the listener beyond its entertainment value, then the greater purpose for writing it in the first place has been accomplished. If I've only entertained you, the musician in me says great! If I've moved you, the Christian in me says "praise the Lord." If all are true, mission accomplished.