I Looked in the Pages

Lyrics to a song by Steven Curtis Chapman come to mind.

“These are the places I was sure I’d find Him I looked in the pages and I looked down on my knees.” Sometimes He comes in the Clouds – Steven Curtis Chapman

I was preparing music for Sunday worship. The readings were about prayer and being attentive in prayer. I recently heard wise words about recognizing “heavenly interruptions” and read about the need to take time, not only to pray but also to listen.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 NIV

Song selection took some heavenly nudges to pluck my heartstrings, but it finally came into focus. Then came the question of a special selection. Something that would fit the sermon or just something that God needed to be said. Then, news that a family friend earned her angel wings, so the planning for her life celebration service began (I prefer not to call them funerals). More songs to prepare, but still not settled on the song for Sunday.

I looked through the pages and I looked down on my knees. I pulled out one of my songs from 2008 called “Million Promises” and the lyrics hit me as they did 10+ years ago.

“You said that we should approach the throne in confidence
but my eyes so full of tears I just can’t see”

Life has been coming at me hard lately, so that rang true.

“All I know to do is put my trust in You   Open up my heart and just believe.”


“I’d trade a million promises,  for one that I can keep
‘cause when it comes to sacrifice, my will is much too weak
When what I was has come and gone, and I’m left with what I am
Just a heart, a soul, one spirit Lord, is entrusted in Your hands.”

Ten years ago, all I knew to do was trust. Ten years later, it is still all I know. In that span, I am still weak; I have gained a few more worry lines, a few pounds and a gray hair or two (or more). I hope that I have gained a bit more wisdom, a bit more patience, and a lot more grace.

I am still trusting, still looking through the pages and still looking down on my knees.
And always Blessed in Great Measure

If you are at our church this Sunday, you probably will hear “Million Promises” (unless the Spirit moves me elsewhere).

If not, you can listen to it or some of my other musical offerings here: Million Promises

Listen to “Sometimes He Comes in the Clouds” by Steven Curtis Chapman here:


Prodigal Redefined

running2In Luke 15, Jesus tells the story of a son who asked his father for his inheritance. With his request granted he set off with pockets full. When the son had spent every dime on wild living, he became hungry. He even longed for the food that he fed to the pigs. His father’s servants have enough food to eat, so he would return home, humble himself before his father and ask simply to be a servant. This parable is known as “The Prodigal Son” and in some texts “The Lost Son”.

I identify with this son way too well. How many times have I ventured out on my own with pockets full of grace, only to end up broke(n) and hungry? All my treasures spent on raucous living, metaphorically aligning myself with people who would trade their integrity for a quick buck. I end up longing for the food I feed to the pigs (too many analogies to mention here, but that’s a story for another day).

In the midst of one of many journeys back home, I wrote a song called “Prodigal Heart”.

A Prodigal Heart that struggles with prayer
Running back home and yet unaware
You’re calling me back from the dark
Though I had fallen so far
Lord, can You heal all the scars of my Prodigal Heart.

I had always though “prodigal” meant lost, or foolish, or repentant, as in Jesus’ parable, so a “lost heart”, a “foolish heart”, or a “repentant heart” made sense. Our pastor pointed out that “prodigal” really meant extravagantly wasteful, so a “wasteful heart” didn’t have as much impact. So I packed away the song in the black hole that is the “re-write pile”.

Recently preparing for worship, the biblical text for the upcoming Sunday was the parable of the prodigal son. There are so many great songs in my arsenal to choose from. The mid 1980’s, Benny Hester wrote a song called “When God Ran” about the father running to welcome home his lost son. In 1999, Phillips Craig and Dean did a fantastic cover of the same. In 2007, John Waller released a song about how amazing it was that God “Still Calls Me Son”. Then I remembered that I had written a “prodigal” song. I dug back through the archives and among the song ideas scribbled on scraps of paper and church bulletins, I re-found “Prodigal Heart” from 1999, then 2007, then 2010, then now.

After nearly 20 years of re-writings, the memories and pitfalls that formed the original song came rushing back. Some of them I have overcome, some still linger. I thought about a “wasteful heart”. Time and age revealed that the “wasteful” definition was even more poignant than the “lost heart”. In this season of preparation for Jesus’ death and resurrection, Hallelujah, we find that Jesus took on our sin and left it in the grave. But that does not give us a license to sin. Each time we stumble, it is another hammer strike on the nails through Jesus’ hands. When we turn away, we “waste” the Grace offered us. So the redefinition of “prodigal” is even more fitting.

The point of the story was not the “lost-ness” or “wastefulness” of the son, but upon the son’s return and humble apology, the father ran to meet him, gave him a robe and ring, and celebrated the return of his son who was dead, but now lives.

The parable tells us of God’s great love for us, how He sees us from afar, runs out to meet us and celebrates our return, when we come to our senses and turn back home. Amen.

Though I stumble, I pray not to be wasteful of God’s gift of Grace.
And to be Blessed in Great Measure


Listen to “When God Ran” by Benny Hester here
Listen to “When God Ran” by Phillips Craig and Dean here
Listen to “Still Calls Me Son” by John Waller here

Listen to “Prodigal Heart” coming soon to a website near you.

If you know similar songs or have a good story, let me know.