‘Stonger Than You Think’ by Amy Courts struck me in a very personal way. Amy wrote this in the wake of several friends having to walk through unimaginably trying times. Her introduction to the song immediately brought an image to mind. Through damp eyes, I attempted to recreate the photo below before the song was over. The image is of my twin nephews, Isaac and Liam, voluntarially holding hands shortly after entering the world, and mere hours before Isaac passed away. To read more about Isaac, search for his name in my older blogs.
Amy communicates perfectly all than can be said about this image with her lyrics; “you are stronger than you think.”
Bethany performed a very personal song she wrote about a tragic event that occurred to a family close to her, adding her own twist to turn it into a love story. I also found a very spiritual side to the lyrics.
A family Bethany has close ties to lived in a home located so that a creek had to be crossed in order to reach it. After a significant rain, the creek flooded, but not everyone had made it home. As a vehicle attempted to reach home, the rising water took control of the car, carrying it down stream and the driver to their spiritual home.
Bethany sings, “You can’t stop the river Jordan, from flowing deep and wide. There is no way to keep from crossing, over to the other side.”
How soberingly true for each and every one of us……..
My drawing is a literal depiction of the scene, a road blocked by a rushing river, no U turns allowed. Though a mistake, I am very happy with this photo! My index finger covered the flash as I snapped the image, creating the orange glow. I was first annoyed by my mistake, but after loading the images onto my computer and being able to really view them, I find the glow rather relaxing, a happy accident!
Amy performed one of my favorite tracks off her self-titled album; the song ‘Barely Breathing’. For me, this song is about my personal relationship, and obedience to God. My favorite line really captures the essence of faith, the uninhibited , reckless, genuine kind God desires from us; “Every-thing’s hanging on Your next move”. I do not know if this image is what Amy had in mind when she wrote it, but this always stirs up an emotion I experienced when faced with the decision of undergoing brain surgery in 2003. After having seizures my entire life, doctors discovered scar tissue on the right side of my brain, and proposed surgery to remove it and possibly free me from this thorn. Being in my first year of marriage, the decision was not something I took lightly, or made alone. Success meant a new life, a driver’s license, new doors opening on the job front, peace of mind for Julie and myself. The procedure failing, on the other hand, was just as extreme on the negative side: unpredictable memory loss, loss of creative abilities (all based on the right side), not to mention the threat of catastrophic side effects present in any major surgery. After much prayer and discussion, we decided surgery was the way to go. God gave me a sense of peace about the procedure many did not understand, I even questioned my sanity at times! December 16, 2003, I was rolled into the operating room for the 6 hour surgery. The procedure went off without the slightest complication and I awoke in the ICU with Julie by my side and a clearer memory than I had when I went in! The following Thanksgiving I took my last anti-epileptic pill. 20 pills a day, average of 40 seizures a month, all set to zero because of one step of faith.
What’s your story? Have you ever been in the position to look up and say, “Every-thing’s hanging on Your next move?”
We hosted an acoustic show with Amy Courts and Bethany Dick-Olds in our living room last night; an absolutely amazing evening. I kept my sketch pad handy and pulled it out for a few songs during the night. This one was created to one of Bethany’s lyrical masterpieces, ‘Come the Morning’. Come the Morning was written as a final tribute to her grandfather; it’s beautiful lyrics speak of our souls passing from this life to the next.
Through the experiences in my life and my faith, I have come to describe death for the Christian as being like coming home from vacation; it’s been a fun trip, but it’s good to be home. ‘Come the Morning’ captures that sentiment for me as well. Life has been good, despite a few bumps in the road, but it’s good to get home, come the morning.
Fresh from a week at the North Carolina coast, I returned in time for a new, exciting series at North Ridge; At The Movies. This series is taking several blockbuster hits, dissecting them, and discovering God within their message. First on the cutting table, one of my personal favorites, The Bourne Identity.
In the Bourne series, Jason Bourne is a government agent with amnesia, trying to rediscover his true identity and not liking what he finds. Clues about his former life are confusing to him, contradicting his moral values and revealing highly specialized abilities.
We each face our own identity crisis, a sort of spiritual amnesia, requiring us to discover who we are, why we’re here, and what we’re going to do about it. Some discover themselves easily, others take years to accept their identity, still others continually wrestle with it, creating a different identity for every situation.
Every human’s identity is built off a common foundation, our creator. God, who knows every detail about us before forming our bodies in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5), is the basis of our individually unique identity. We are created to emulate Him, our act of worship that points others back towards Him. Until we embrace this truth, we will be in a constant state of identity crisis, cycling through endless personalities to try and find the right fit. Without this critical footing, however, none will match.
This sketch begins with a dark figure, back to the viewer in the foreground. The figure’s arms are raised toward the background. Above the figure, we catch a glimpse of the object of his praise, a chin and mouth. The partial face is gently breathing onto the figure below, breathing life into its new creation:
Genesis 2:7 Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
On each side of the figure stands angled mirrors. These mirrors reflect the figure, as well as each other, replicating the figure infinitely in both directions.
Up to this point, the drawing represents our identity within God. Life is breathed into each of us by God. Our true identity is revealed in giving that life back to Him, completely submitting to His direction. One remaining figure disrupts this breath-life-worship cycle. The ghostly white figure obstinately walking away from the central figure. This ghost represents an individual’s rejection of an identity founded in God through Christ, in search of a way to find themselves on their own terms. This figure remains hollow, without any depth from shading because our emptiness consumes us until we submit to our creator’s authority and allow Him to fill us.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 was the basis for the fourth installment of the Planted series at North Ridge this morning. As Christians, we are spiritually recreated the moment we believe, becoming “a new creation” (v.17) God reconciles Himself to us, placing His light within us to share with the rest of the world. We are given the responsibility to share, as ambassadors of heaven, but retain our free will. Intentionally allowing our light to shine not only connects God to another individual, but connects them to us as well. This is what God desires to create, people connected to people, each of those connected to Him. If you are already an ambassador of heaven, are you fulfilling your duty to shine a bright and as often as possible? If not, respond to the light you see; come shine with us.