Tag Archives: Chris Rice

Worship Wednesday – With Hope – Steven Curtis Chapman

Blog - Heath Funeral - Grieving with hopeWe do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.    –            1 Thessalonians 4:13

It’s been quite some time since I attended a funeral. Not that we haven’t lost dear friends in the last few years…but we lived far away at the time and just didn’t go. This time…when Heath died…we went.

Death is something no one wants to have to look on full-face. There’s no way really to polish it up. It is our final enemy. Our temptation is to remove ourselves as far from suffering and death as we can. When someone you love is on this path, then how can we do anything else but enter in…?

Heath lived 15 months or so with a devastating, killing cancer. That in itself was a miracle. When he died, a small loving family is left to figure out a new normal for their lives. They won’t be alone in this.

How thankful I am that God draws close to His children in the daily and in death. Heath’s wife and children will have what they need to face what comes next. God is faithful. God is good.

When a gifted, lovely 42-years-young man dies, leaving a wife and three little girls, can we say in this that God is good? If we cannot, then we never can. We cannot see what God sees, but we know from experience and from His Word that He will work good out of every situation in His children’s lives…every. single. situation.

Heath understood that, and he lived it. His family does as well.

You might not think that a funeral can be a joyous thing. I don’t cry easily. Maybe after so many of our own losses, maybe after years of cancer nursing…tears just don’t come at the usual times. During Heath’s funeral, I couldn’t stop them from rolling down. Out of love and out of loss…but also out of wonder at the beauty of God’s care and character.

With Hope is a song written by Steven Curtis Chapman in 2008 after the accidental death of his 5 y/o daughter, Maria. The tribute video for Heath at his funeral featured this song as the soundtrack and it was so right. Somehow, especially in times of loss, God weaves a deep hope into our faith. I saw it in Heath’s family…and I experienced it myself. God is good…always.

Worship with me.

This is not at all
How we thought it was supposed to be
We had so many plans for you
We has so many dreams
But now you’ve gone away
And left us with the memories of your smile
And nothing we can say
And nothing we can do
Can take away the pain
The pain of losing you

And we can cry with hope
We can say good-bye with hope
‘Cause we know our good-bye is not the end
And we can grieve with hope
‘Cause we believe with hope
There’s a place where we’ll see your face again
We’ll see your face again

And never have I known
Anything so hard to understand
And never have I questioned more
The wisdom of God’s plan
But through the cloud of tears
I see the Father smile and say ‘well done.’
And I imagine you
Where you wanted most to be
Seeing all your dreams come true
‘Cause now your home
And now your free

[Chorus]

We have this hope as an anchor
‘Cause we believe that everything
God promised us is true

[Chorus]

We wait with hope
And we ache with hope
We hold on with hope
We let go with hope*Blog - HeathPhoto Credit: Facebook

Postscript: Toward the end of Heath’s funeral, a solitary musician with guitar began to sing Come to Jesus We, in that gathering, were all suspended in our thoughts of Heath, sad in our loss of him and full of joy that he was Home with the Lord. In the emotion of that moment, the singer, just into the first verse of that beautiful, soulful song, faltered. He willed his voice to continue but couldn’t. Even as his voice gave away, soft voices in the congregation took up where he left off. He strummed the guitar, and we sang…quietly, full of reverence at the meaning of all before us.

It is what we find in the truest experience of the Family of God and the grace of God. We all falter sometimes…we all fall. He lifts us up – either through the hands and voices of others, or by His own hand and word. He carries us. He helps us see beyond the pain and wretchedness of an unbelievable loss…to the glory of that life, of our lives, and His glory reflected in them.

Hallelujah!

*Lyrics to With Hope by Steven Curtis Chapman

Steven Curtis Chapman

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” – 1 Peter 1:3-9

Worship Wednesday – Finding God in the Dark – the Dark that Cannot Extinguish His Light

Blog - Sitting in the Dark - Time Magazine

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.John 1:1-5

How extraordinary that revelation can come waiting in an exam room of a doctor’s office! I was waiting…of course, and noticed the pile of magazines on the counter (to help us waiting lose count of the time). In the pile was an old issue of a Time magazine. The cover story was intriguing. Who of us hasn’t considered, if not encountered, God during a dark night of the soul?

Flipping the pages over to the article, I found a familiar face. A face I hadn’t seen in decades: Barbara Brown…well, Barbara Brown Taylor now. She was my residence advisor my first year in the dorms of Emory University. Blog - Sitting in the dark - Time Magazine - Barbara Brown Taylor

 I loved our occasional talks together. She was funny, beautiful, loving, very real, and captivating – to be so close to our ages yet wise beyond her years. Flawed like the rest of us, but yielded somehow to an otherness of life that gives grace to our flaws, and her own.

Blog - Finding God in the Dark - Barbara BrownPhoto Credit: qotd.org

Barbara Brown Taylor. That day I was glad for the long wait and devoured the Time article (by Elizabeth Dias). It’s lovely to rediscover a friend from our past and to find one who had become so celebrated.

[Sidebar: It was just that same week when I found another old friend via Facebook. He and I lived across from each other, in an old brick apartment building, while in our 20’s. Rick Holm was a medical resident and I was the cancer nurse specialist at Grady Hospital in those days. We became friends and shared friends, and Saturday morning coffee, and late night stories. Now that same Rick Holm is The Prairie Doc, of Brookings, South Dakota. I wasn’t surprised.]

Barbara Brown Taylor, author of Learning to Walk in the Dark, shared some of her story in that magazine article and her thinking on experiencing the dark. Many of us try to avoid the darkness but, for Barbara, it is a place (or experience) to embrace – to discover, and to discover God there. The video produced by The Work of the People gives a winsome glimpse into what she talks about in her book – through clips of her and other writers talking about pain.Blog - Sitting in the Dark - Barbara Brown TaylorPhoto Credit: The Work of the People

I personally prefer light to darkness, although much of what she and her cohorts in the video say about darkness is. We have nightlights in the house, not because anyone is afraid of the dark but, to avoid not falling, tripping over something or running painfully into something.

We definitely need to learn from the darkness in our lives, as Barbara Brown Taylor writes. We are meant to incorporate that learning into the grace we have for ourselves and those around us in their own darknesses. It’s the light, though, that I am most grateful for. The pitch-black dark of suffering will come to all of us, sometimes in ways we can’t even fathom in daytime.

This one thing I know: We are never alone in that dark place.

Blog - Sitting in the Dark - Light - poetrybydeborahann

Photo Credit: Poetry by Deborah Ann Belka

In this moment…the darknesses closest to my heart (hard family situations, the suffering in the world, my own fears) are brightened in the light of God’s Word.  I recognize that, in the darkness around us, there is a call to action. We are meant to do whatever we can to bring light into the darkness of others. I am reminded of Chris Rice’s song Go Light the World.

We can trust the Giver of Light to emblazon our darkness.

Jesus is familiar with darkness. – He brought light into the darkness at the creation of our world (Genesis 1:1-4John 1:1-5); his birth was heralded by angels to shepherds in the dark of that Bethlehem night (Luke 2:8-16); he lived a life that exposed the darkness through the light of His truth and love (John 8:12); seeking the Father’s face in the dark (Mark 1:35); surrendering His life for ours on a cross  against a black midday sky (Mark 15:33); resurrected from the darkness of a tomb (Luke 24); – with us now in every situation we can’t see our way out of (Deuteronomy 31:6, Matthew 28:20) … His light will never be extinguished by the dark (John 1:5).

Whatever our darkness, He brings light. Worship with me:

Light of the World
You stepped down into darkness
Opened my eyes
Let me see
Beauty that made
This heart adore You
Hope of a life
Spent with You

Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You’re my God
You’re altogether lovely
Altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me

King of all days
Oh, so highly exalted
Glorious in Heaven above
Humbly You came
To the earth You created
All for love’s sake became poor

Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You’re my God
You’re altogether lovely
Altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me

I’ll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross
I’ll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross

Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You’re my God
You’re altogether lovely
Altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me

Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You’re my God
You’re altogether lovely
Altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me*

*Here I Am to Worship written by Michael W. Smith, Debbie Smith, Paul Baloche

Worship Wednesday – Through It All – It Is Well With My Soul

Cairo Nile

For thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river… As one whom his mother comforts, So I will comfort you.” Isaiah 66:12a, 13a

“Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him.” Psalm 62:5

Life and loss are inseparable. As beautiful as our lives can be some days, there are other times when darkness is thick around us. We can’t breathe. I have stood alongside friends in deep grief, and words don’t come for me to comfort them. Great losses have come my way as well…with no way to humanly understand or make sense of them.

Still…in the midst of terrible pain, I’ve experienced profound peace. It’s difficult to explain, even to myself. We get through. God’s grace, somehow, is sufficient…as He promises His children.

Over a century ago, a man, Horatio Spafford, wrote a poem, a prayer really, while going through the horrific loss of all his children. what he wrote was a bold declaration of faith and truth that has comforted people for generations. “It is well with my soul.”

When you read these words (below), you will notice that it is well with our souls because of what God did for us…and what He continues to do. Through every sort of circumstance, as we lean on God and believe Him at His word, He gives us the strength to

Stand fast and hold firm –

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.  May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope,  encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. – 2 Thessalonians 2:15-17

Worship with me (verses 1-3, 6):

  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.

    • Refrain:
      It is well with my soul,
      It is well, it is well with my soul.
  2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
  3. My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
  4. For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
    If Jordan above me shall roll,
    No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
    Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
  5. But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
    The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
    Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
    Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
  6. And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
    The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
    The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
    Even so, it is well with my soul.*

*Original Lyrics for It is Well with My Soul by Horatio Spafford, 1873

YouTube Video – It is Well with My Soul – Chris Rice

The Story Behind the Hymn – It Is Well With My Soul

YouTube Video – It is Well with My Soul – Jeremy Riddle

YouTube Video – It is Well by Kristene Dimarco & Bethel Music – You Make Me Brave

YouTube Video – It is Well with My Soul – Gaither Homecoming, featuring Guy Penrod and David Phelps