By Night When Others Soundly Slept  Podcast

Today's reading from the SRT: Lent book is about repentance but there is also this beautiful poem that resonates with me. Hope it speaks to you, despite the "old English" language. 

By Night When Others Soundly Slept
Anne Bradstreet, circa 1647

By night when others soundly slept,
And had at once both ease and Rest,
My waking eyes were open kept
And so to lye I found it best.

I sought Him whom my Soul did Love, 
With tears I sought Him earnestly;
He bow'd His ear down from Above,
In vain I did not seek or cry. 

My hungry Soul He filled with Good,
He in His bottle putt my teares,
By smarting wounds washt in His blood,
And banisht thence my Doubts and feares.

What to my Savior shall I give,
Who freely hath done this for me?
I'le serve Him here whilst I shall live,
And love Him to eternity.
/
  1. I Wait

I Don't Identify With The Prodigal. (Reflection & Prayer)  Podcast

I am no theologian. The Parable of the Prodigal Son is probably supposed to cast me as the prodigal for many theological reasons. I seem to remember hearing that it has implications for believers of Jewish and Gentile descent, in which case I would definitely fall in the "prodigal" category. But I also believe that God can speak to us in different ways through Scripture as long as it's consistent with His character as we know it through Scripture-based revelation. So, bear with me. 

A friend gifted me the "She Reads Truth : Lent" reading plan and the stated purpose of She Reads Truth is to get women in God's Word every day. Honestly if "she" (me) is being 100% honest, I have never been successful with the discipline of daily Scripture reading. There, I said it. I have the best of intentions, but I fail. Below I will share my response after today's reading (which is day 2 of 47) - will you pray this for me (and/or with me)?

ABBA:
It is so difficult for me to remember You in the everyday. Help me to establish a DAILY habit of remembrance & study - and that will help me to represent You better in the middle of day-to-day stress and pressure. 

I honestly can't think of even one season where I have been TRULY "overflowing with gratitude" as the Word calls us to be in Colossians 6:7.

Thank you for adopting me into Your family (Galatians 4:5)! So frequently I have been like the son who stayed home when the prodigal strayed. Though I have not been openly rebellious, I have often been a brat (for lack of a better word). I have so often resented my own decision to be obedient - though obedient in action, my heart has often been far from You. 

During this Lent season, gentle and loving Father: 
Help me to rend my heart and draw close to You like never before. Rid me of my self-centeredness and teach me how to see and act like You. 

For YOU ARE LOVE - and You are:
(1 Corinthians 13)

Patient.
Kind.
Never Jealous / Envious
NOT SELF-CENTERED, proud, or boastfu.
Never RUDE; not easily angered, keeping NO RECORD of wrongs.
Rejoicing with the Truth
ALWAYS : protecting, trusting, hoping, persevering.

NEVER failing. 


Thank you Abba for Your love. Change my heart and make me like You. In Jesus' name, Amen.
/
  1. This Is Grace

It's Like God Sang It Over Me: "What I Would Do For You" 

I don't have a lot of commentary to add for "What I Would Do For You" - it's one of those songs that, as a songwriter, I almost feel weird about saying I wrote it because it really was like God sang it over me and I just let it out. However, it was a response to a songwriting challenge from the Facebook group for www.writechristiansongs.com (if you are a Christian and write songs or aspire to write them, check it out - there's no cost to join this community and you can participate in as many or as few challenges as you like).

The way they were doing the challenges at that time was by throwing out a phrase and we each had to write a song containing that phrase and that was supposed to be the title of the song, too. One of the things that was really important to me in the challenges was to write "outside the box" of what I felt like would be expected from the phrase - and I think this one was thrown out there for Valentine's Day so many people were actually writing songs from them to significant ofthers or children. It's not unexpected to write from God to me. However, as the first verse began to take shape, I heard God saying yes I would do all this for you - but what I have already done and what I'm still doing in you is just as important. And so the song poured out. The structure is verse + verse + verse (with a repeated hook at the end of each verse, but it's a bit unusual to have that hook change each time it's repeated...)

I would take off my crown,open the skies and come down to love you
I would lay down my life,
no sacrifice would be too much to save you
Like a lover pursuing His bride,
wouldn’t rest ‘til I made You mine
That's what I would do for You
 
I'd reject my own Son,
blame Him for everything You've done to hurt us
I would turn away,
I would hold back the angels I could send to save Him
Though He didn't deserve this pain,
I would send him to hell in your place
That's what I have done for you.
 
Hear me whisper your name,
calling you out from your shame to know Me
I will love you through men,
break through your defenses just to make you holy
I'm a Friend you know you can trust,
and you follow Me because
That's what I am doing in you.



Behind The Noise : a song of conviction 

I don't know about you, but if I leave my phone at home by mistake and have to do without it for half the day, I start to have withdrawal symptoms. Sometimes when my husband and I have lunch together on Sunday, we look up and realize that we've each been tapping away at our phones for 10 minutes without really talking to one another. We have to make a conscious effort to put away the phones and turn off the TV, because today we find noise more comfortable than silence...

I belong to a generation that can still remember what life was like before it became commonplace to be tethered to a mobile phone at all times. When I was a kid, it was normal to have a mobile phone for emergencies when driving, but they weren't pocket-sized yet. Made it a little bit easier to leave it in the car, at least. And you didn't get very many minutes, and reception was spotty at best, so you were forced to talk to people in person or at least wait until you got home to talk for hours on the phone.
 
1990's model

I am prepared to admit: we totally had one of these in our Dodge Caravan. Am I alone here?



How did this become our obsession?
Remember when we weren't ALWAYS connected?
Why does it agonize us to be still
and choose the silence?


When I first wrote this song, the third line said "to pull the plug" instead of "to be still" and someone (thanks, Mom) helped me see that the phrase makes you think of cutting life support or something. Man, it can feel like that when you're "unplugged" from the constant barrage of communication, but I really wanted to be clear and eliminate any distraction from the message of this song!

Remember when we weren't ALWAYS connected?
I think Zack from "Saved By The Bell" is a pretty good illustration of:
1. Just how old I am. Watched this every day after (middle) school. Shh... pretend you still think I'm about 10 years younger, mmmm-kay?
2. How far technology has come. Can you imagine cramming that thing in your back pocket? And that wasn't even the first couple of models to gain traction!


Furthermore, I do think that a huge part of the reason that we're so tempted to fill our lives with "noise" and busy-ness is that the enemy knows that if we are still and quiet, if we take time to contemplate what's important in life and what we should be doing with it, that we will hear from God and cause all sorts of trouble for him! 

Behind the noise, 
there is only one still, small voice,
not competing for attention.

If we ever pause to listen,...
what will we hear? 

Will we find He's always been near, 
and we already have His affection?



I also see my generation and those coming up behind us falling into a trap that will destroy our families if we fail to correct our course! Without communication, relationships fall apart. These electronic devices will suck the life our of our families if we let them. Don't misunderstand me, I love technology. I am personally addicted to it, and I think it's good in so many ways. But we have GOT to learn how to put these things down sometimes, and focus on the people right around us. What experiences might I miss out on today if I'm buried in my phone or a computer instead of looking up and around me?

You can miss a lifetime in a moment.
We tell ourselves we don't already know this.
But when this day becomes your past,
will you be satisfied
if it becomes your last?

God Is A Gentleman : "I Wait" by Alice Summers 

Part of me is tempted to write a whole lot about this song, but on the other hand I think the lyrics communicate what I needed to say quite well. I have lived these lyrics, but I also wanted to keep it general enough so that anyone can relate.

In my experience, God doesn't force His will on us. He is the consummate gentleman, respecting the free will He created in us. But because of our experiences in this fallen world, we have forgotten that it's possible to trust completely and not be disappointed. 

Revelation 3:20 says,
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with Me.”
 
For as long as you remember,
you’ve always been the strong one.
Your facade might fool my children,
but I hear your inner longing,
And I wait for you.
You feel like you’ve been discarded;
like you’ve always been alone,
As if you were never wanted,
My beloved, don’t you know?
I wait for you
 
I wait, and catch every tear that falls
I wait; I know your struggle isn’t small
Fall apart in my arms and find your rest
In the center of your brokenness
 
For so long you’ve resisted ;
you barricade the walls
As if I’ve come to break you
just to prove that I am strong
But I wait for you
If you let me I will shatter
and remove the hidden things
And replace them with the healing
that is only found in Me
But I wait for you
 
Musically, I absolutely love how this turned out in the studio! I I think it may be the best one on the album. Agree/disagree? What other questions or comments do you have about this song? 

The Truth Is Enough 

The basic motivation for writing “The Truth Is” was the fact that I had a song called “The Lie” and so I wanted a song about the Truth. I wrote a couple of other songs (here’s one) that just weren’t quite “it” for me. So what did I want to say about the Truth?
 
First, most of us try to hide the whole truth about who we really are. We do it because we’re afraid we won’t be accepted, if people really knew. I know that girl. I’ve been her.
 
Like a flower on the wall,
in the shadows feeling so small
Tell me why you hide away;
Tell me, why are you so afraid?

 
If you’ve been that girl (or guy) and you’ve found the courage to show others who you really are, you know that it’s not at all like you think it will be, when you used to live in fear. I wanted to use “the truth” in a new way for a deeper meaning here. What’s so good to know is that Jesus (the Way, the Truth, and the Life) can handle my honesty, too. I don’t have to put on airs with Him. He already knows exactly who I am, and He loves me at my worst.
 
The truth is, it doesn’t have to be so hard.
The Truth knows exactly who you are.
When you give up the masquerade,
Step into the light; you can show your face
And you’ll find love -- The truth is enough
 



Romans 5:8 says “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
 
OK, so in verse 2 I’m talking to my former self again. For me, I accepted God’s love early on but found it harder to open up to people. I was nice to them, but I kept everyone at arms’ length. Fear said they wouldn’t accept me, and so I would feel rejected and alone – but by keeping everyone out, I already felt that way. So what was there to lose, really?
You say you want to be alone;
You never let anyone close
Tell me what you’re tryin’ to prove –
Tell me what have you got to lose?

 
And I remember questioning my purpose, and at the same time not really sure I wanted the answer (what if I didn’t have one?) – I trust that I’m not alone in having felt this:
We all search for answers
we’re not sure we want to find:
Why on earth am I here?
What is the meaning of life?
And if I open up my heart, will it be alright?

 
Romans 9:20 has always spoken to me in those moments where I have found myself asking such questions. In context, perhaps that’s not really what this verse is about. But it’s meaningful to me and certainly not opposed to the message of the whole book. It says: “But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”
 
The truth is, at the very beginning of the story (Genesis 1), God said everything He made was good. That includes me and you. If you’ve been hiding in the shadows, afraid of the light of Truth, step out and embrace the love you find. The truth is enough.
 

I Haven't Heard From You - some thoughts behind "Lately" 

"Lately" is a song that went through several revisions before it felt just right. The primary idea was inspired by conversations with my husband about those times where you just feel like God is so distant – as we’ve grown in faith, we know that He is not in fact distant but we aren’t able to “sense” His presence at all times.
 
In fact, the Word promises that whenever we seek God, we will find Him. For example:
Jeremiah 29:13
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Psalm 145: 18
“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”

James 4:8 (a)
“Draw near to God and He will come near to you.”


I thought about many years ago in youth group at Cottage Hill Baptist Church when we came back from that mountain-top experience that is youth summer camp and found ourselves feeling discouraged when the feeling didn’t stick with us forever. Our youth pastor talked about how we can’t bottle up those moments and hang onto them as something to be replicated, but we have to keep seeking hard after God even when feelings change. I thought about how tempting it is as a Christian leader to try and replicate experiences where God has moved mightily – to create a formula that can simply be repeated. But it doesn’t work that way, because God is inherently creative and I think He likes to surprise us!

But then Isaiah 29:13 laments,
“The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.’”

I don't know about you, but I've been there. My desire is to seek a fresh encounter with God in each moment, and not to get caught up in tradition and routine. It’s great to remember what God has done – in fact, God commands the Israelites to place stones of remembrance in Joshua 4. Many people keep a journal where they record these things, and even though I’ve never been consistent about keeping a journal, I do have a few that I look back to sometimes. It made me think of those little jars people collect from the beach, with some sand and a shell or two. But then I got a mental picture of a room just absolutely full of them, where there’s no room for anything new. Remembering is good, but it’s so important that we keep seeking God’s face in the present!

I hold on to moments, they're like souvenirs;
Little jars of sand to prove that You've been here.
When I hold them in my hands, 
Oh, how I long for You to speak to me again

But Lately - I haven't heard from You lately
I've heard it said and recognize it as the Truth
If You seem distant, You're not the one who moved
But Lately - I haven't heard from You lately


A side note here – in the first draft of this song, I squished all the choruses together and repeated the whole thing each time. That was too long! But I felt like I needed to say it all. I had already played it out several times and practiced it a whole lot before I realized that verse one was about hearing from God, the second was about seeing Him at work, and the last one needed to come back to “so what am I doing about it?”

It’s so easy to look around at everything going on in the world and wonder, “Where is God in all of this?” I’m (barely) a part of the millennial generation, and so part of my life experience has been watching friends grow up and leave the church. While I remain rooted in Christ by faith, I can understand their reasoning on a purely intellectual level. It seems to me that the core reason is usually driven by this frustration:
 If God is real, and God is all-powerful, and so much is wrong with the world, then how can He be good? 

Look, I can’t answer that question completely in this post. I’m not sure I can personally answer it completely at all – but I can recommend some resources that explain this sort of thing better than I ever could (click contact and send me a message, or leave a comment below). There’s a quote you’ve probably heard that I think sums up my response pretty well:
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”though there’s some dispute about whether Ghandi actually said this at all

From my point of view, the biggest problem with the world is that we don’t take action to fix the wrong we see in the world. We live for ourselves. Look out for number one.  But Christ calls the Church His body, and exhorts us to give to the needy without expecting anything in return. If, then, I am the body of Christ, how might I see His hand working around me? By participating in His work!!

Most of my life, I live like it's about me
Although this contradicts what I say I believe
If I really want to watch You move,
How could I restrain the good I know to do?

Lately, I haven't seen Your hand lately
Since you called us out to be Your hands and feet
Should I be so convinced I'm not the one You need?
Lately – I haven’t seen your hand lately



When I see the need, I often turn the other cheek
As if that's how You'd ever treat the least of these
Unseeing eyes, complacent heart, playing pretend;
It's been my story, and I've come here to repent...

Lately - what have I offered You lately?
Do I need to let go of some things I have
So there'll be room enough for You in my grasp?
Lately - I haven't heard from You lately
Lately – I haven’t seen your hand lately
Lately – oh, lately…


And a final note about resolution: Both musically and lyrically, I left this song unresolved on purpose. Life isn't that simple. We feel what we feel. I think part of the problem my generation has had with "the church" is that the institution can make people feel like it's not ok to feel unresolved; like, if you really "get it" then you won't feel that way anymore, ever. I just think that God can handle our humanity. Have you read the Psalms, there's a lot of complaining in there! Jacob literally wrestled with God.

So this is me being real. I don't feel this way all the time, but I have felt and do feel it at times. There's something I can do about it. Sometimes I take the action I know I should, and other times I just complain about it. I hope that's okay. And I hope you know it's okay if you do, too.

If We Knew Something Better - writing about "The Lie" 

It’s the lie – don’t you know it’s the lie?
Since the beginning of time, the method’s been the same:
Defeat and divide – still, we cling to the lie.
We don’t know anything better;
We just surrender to the lie.


It seems ironic to me that I’m sharing with you about this song the day after my birthday, when my Facebook wall was kindly bombarded with good wishes and encouragement. You would think that it would be impossible to feel lonely and unloved in the midst of that kind of outpouring, right? 

Wrong. Today, it would be impossible for me. But 10-12 years ago, I could have pulled it off quite easily. I could have rationalized my discouragement by telling myself they don't really care about me. I could also find myself in the middle of a crowd, with actual people, feeling completely alone. I could find a negative internal "spin" for just about every circumstance. You see, I believed this:
It’s the voice that whispers, “you’re not good enough.”
The one refusing to believe you could be worthy of love;
The one that looks around at all your friends
and says, “you don’t deserve them.”
And you believe it.

(elaboration here on my friend Nate Pruitt’s blog, where I did a guest post for his fear2freedom theme a while ago)

The enemy of our souls is called the “father of lies” for a reason. He would have you believe anything but the Truth. If he can get you to believe mostly truth and just a little bit of lie mixed in, that’s where he’ll start. And he’s schizophrenic ; he’ll throw completely opposite ideas at you just to see what sticks. At least that was my experience. 

That voice will turn and say you’re better than your neighbor; 
Same old liar, just a different flavor. 
In our attempt to hide our weaknesses,
we bite the hook and bury it
Line and sinker.


Did you catch the second half of that verse? I don’t really have to ask if you’ve ever been tempted to hide your weaknesses from others. I know you have, because we all do. It seems easy to comfort a friend with “you’re not alone” – and yet, when I feel alone in my own struggle the temptation is to withdraw – and that doesn’t solve anything!

The other thing that happened when I lived in the shadow of the lie, is that I was afraid to try things because I was convinced I would fail. The reality is, if you live and breathe you are going to fail at things. But you’re also going to succeed at things! Instead of giving in to the fear and doing nothing, I’ve learned to tell them to shut up. A technique I learned recently through Jon Acuff’s START is to literally mock fear – because its claims are ridiculous! Read that book, think about it. Check out Jon's blog. Mock your fear.

It’s every fear you’ve ever heard, stuck on repeat
You’ve never really known them;
still, they make your knees weak
And if you’ll just stay where you are
and never reach out to the world, 
Then the enemy’s succeeded.


Regardless of the specific lies you’ve believed, the key is to not only refute them but also to fill that space with the Truth that we find in the word of God. John 8:32 says that when you KNOW the Truth, it will set you free. I believed a bunch of lies about myself because I didn’t know the Truth, and so I surrendered to them for years. Then God woke me up one day and opened my eyes to where He told us to fill our minds with the Word and meditate on it day and night, to keep it on our lips (Joshua 1:8). I took index cards and wrote down the main lies that kept repeating, and found scriptures that proved they were lies. I carried them with me, and when the old lie came up, I read the corresponding scripture. 
It’s the lie – don’t you know it’s the lie?
Since the beginning of time,
the method’s been the same:
Defeat and divide – WHAT IF we called it a lie?
IF WE KNEW something better, we wouldn’t surrender to the lie. 




What I know now is that God has planned good things for me (Jeremiah 29:11); He has loved me with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3); even when I fall short, I am not condemned (Romans 8:1). I also know that when I take delight in the Lord, He has promised to give me the desires of my heart (Psalm 38:4). 
*There’s a whole lot more that can be said about that last one, but that’s the simple essence of the Truth there. But that was where this half-verse came from:

If there’s a hope rooted deep in your soul, you know, the Farmer doesn’t plant the seed unless He wants to watch it grow…


And just for kicks, here are some more favorite verses of mine:

2 Corinthians 10:5 
Take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ

Hebrews 4:12 
The Word of God is living and active, sharper than a double-edged sword... 


And here are some scriptures that refute the main lies I personally believed.
LIE: I’m not special.  I don’t matter. Here’s some TRUTH:

Genesis 1: 31a (NASB) - God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good…

Psalm 45: 10-11 (Message) - Now listen, daughter, don't miss a word: forget your country, put your  home behind you. Be here—the king is wild for you. Since he's your lord, adore him.

Matthew 6:25 (ESV) - “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 

1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV) - But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT) - Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

Isaiah 44: 1-10 (The Message) - But for now, dear servant Jacob, listen— yes, you, Israel, my personal choice. God who made you has something to say to you; the God who formed you in the womb wants to help you. Don't be afraid, dear servant Jacob,  Jeshurun, the one I chose. For I will pour water on the thirsty ground and send streams coursing through the parched earth.
I will pour my Spirit into your descendants and my blessing on your children. They shall sprout like grass on the prairie, like willows alongside creeks. This one will say, 'I am God's,' and another will go by the name Jacob; That one will write on his hand 'God's property'— and be proud to be called Israel." God, King of Israel, your Redeemer, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, says:
"I'm first, I'm last, and everything in between. I'm the only God there is. Who compares with me? Speak up. See if you measure up. From the beginning, who else has always announced what's coming? So what is coming next? Anybody want to venture a try? Don't be afraid, and don't worry: Haven't I always kept you informed, told you what was going on? You're my eyewitnesses: Have you ever come across a God, a real God, other than me? There's no Rock like me that I know of."


LIE: I’m not pretty enough. Here’s some TRUTH: 

Psalm 139: 13-16 (NIV) - For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

1 Peter 3: 3-4 (CEV) - Don't depend on things like fancy hairdos or gold jewelry or expensive clothes to make you look beautiful. Be beautiful in your heart by being gentle and quiet. This kind of beauty will last, and God considers it very special.

Ecclesiastes 3: 11 (NIV) - He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Proverbs 31: 30 (NASB) - Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
 

Rock Of Ages - Simple treatment for a great hymn  

This is such a beautiful hymn. It was written by Augustus Toplady in 1766, and is part of the public domain. I've often heard it interpreted as an upbeat, almost sing-song hymn; but wanted to really highlight the melody and beauty of these words. If you'd like to know more about the story, here's a link that might be interesting to read - but I've heard conflicting views about the actual circumstances that prompted this poem so I'm honestly not sure this is 100% correct. If it is, it's a great story. If not, it's still a beautiful poem and song - don't you think?

I also want to take a quick opportunity to point out that even though the CD is not available for purchase until 9-9-14, I have been adding the songs to this website for listening only in the meantime (you'll also be able to purchase them here starting on September 5!). Please take a moment to select play below, if you haven't already, and feel free to let me know your opinion about how we interpreted this one. 

If you love it, you should know that Curt Ryle with Big Matador Recording was instrumental (pun intended, haha!) in bringing this and all but two of the other songs on my album to life. I highly recommend Big Matador Recording for both songwriters and artists - if you need to record, check out the link above and reach out to Curt to see if they're a good fit for you. I hesitate to use the word "proud" in most things - but I am so proud of what we have created and I know that God will use it for his glory - both to make Himself known and to encourage an understanding of just how much He loves us. 
 
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure; Save from wrath and make me pure.
Be of sin the double cure; Save from wrath and make me pure.


Not the labors of my hands Can fulfill Thy law's commands;
Could my zeal no respite know,Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;Thou must save, and Thou alone.
All for sin could not atone;Thou must save, and Thou alone.
 
Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress; Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Savior, or I die.
Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Savior, or I die.
 
While I draw this fleeting breath,When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown, See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee.
 
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself
in Thee.

I'm Not Paralyzed : writing Under The Shadow (Psalm 91) 

Under The Shadow was my response to a writechristiansongs.com challenge. 
By the way, if you're a songwriter and a Christian - any level, really - the free resources and community are worth checking out.

The challenge was to write a song inspired by  Psalm 91, but not word for word and specifically not the whole thing. This was especially hard for me to wrap my head around, initially, because Joseph and I had already written a Psalm 91 song and it was the entire thing. So, first, I had to get that out of my head!

I really love writing songs that are deeply rooted in scripture. I love the idea and purpose of scripture memory songs, although I struggle with finding a way to make them feel current without watering down the message in any way. One of the techniques that helps with this, for me, is to pull up several different translations in parallel - at least one paraphrase, like The Message, and at least one that's a more literal treatment like NASB. 

But I wasn't writing about the whole thing - so what could I write that would drill down on one idea in the psalm and say it in a new way? I had a month to write and post a song, so I meditated on Psalm 91 for a couple of weeks. What stuck out to me is that while God is my refuge, He doesn't promise that trouble won't come. If anything, He promises that it will. 


God, You're my refuge; a safe place to hide.
The darkness will come, 
but You are my song in the night



We live in a fallen world. And, if trouble will come, then sometimes we will be afraid. During this past season of change, I faced many fears and I battled through insecurity. I also read an awesome book by Jon Acuff called START that challenged me to embrace community and "punch fear in the face" - when verse 5 says "you will not fear..." I thought about that saying "Courage is not the absence of fear, but the judgement that something else is more important than fear" (Ambrose Redmoon). This is a song inspired by Psalm 91, so honestly I didn't do a deep word study of the original language to see if it was ok to say it this way. Experientially, I know that the fear still lurks around the corner. So this section became:


PRE-CHORUS:
And I'm not paralyzed by the fear
Although it still whispers in my ear
Though the flood washes over me, 
I know You go with me,
And You're keeping me near




And then, of course, to get to the point of the Psalm. I know, everyone writes "under the shadow of Your wings." But I feel like the rest of the song communicated my fresh twist on it, hopefully in a way that feels relevant. I love the imagery of being under the shadow of God's wings through the storm. Here, there is peace; and here, I choose to rest in Him. 


CHORUS:
Under the shadow of Your wing
Here in Your presence, I find my peace.
I'm never letting You go, all of my life 
I will trust You alone.