How do you navigate life’s ups and downs?
If you feel like you are more in a valley or desert right now, instead of a mountain top or sanctuary, this happens to me too. When we are feeling down, there is a way to climb upward.
It wasn’t obvious then, but in the early 1980s four practices were planted in my heart. They happened working summers at Adventures Unlimited canoe rental in the Florida panhandle. Each one is an essential tool I can remember and apply to rise up from life’s “downs,” or when celebrating life’s “ups.”
Maybe all four, or at least one, can inspire your journey. Here is how each seed took root at the canoe rental, and then blossomed into fruit when I learned verses to apply (thanks to Charles Swindoll and his powerful little book Intimacy with the Almighty). All four of them became song titles in my early years of composing Scripture inspired piano.
1. SIMPLICITY. Take time to do simple things, to see life and the world through a child’s eyes. Unload the canoes in the morning, drive customers to the starting point, show them how to canoe, load up the canoes in the afternoon. The work day was simple. Give the customer a great experience, and stir their child-like simplicity. This song on the album Draw Near was inspired by Ecclesiastes 7:29 — “God made us plain and simple, but we have made ourselves very complicated.”
2. SILENCE. Take time to unplug, be silent, pray, and listen for God’s voice. I loved the job of unloading one hundred canoes on the sandbar to be ready for customers (see the photo above). I worked in silence and it was silent when the work was done. So silent I could only hear the water, the wind, and the birds. This song on the album Still Waters and re-recorded on December Peace was inspired by Habakkuk 2:20 — “But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.”
3. SOLITUDE. Take time to be alone. Working outdoors along a river provided lots of alone time. Many special moments come from solitude…working hard, resting well, creating calmly, listening closely. This song on the album Walk in the Light was inspired by Mark 1:35 — “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
4. SURRENDER. Take a position of surrendering control with relationships, work and play. This took the longest and is the hardest for me. Sometimes life’s worst moments offer the best possibility for responding with surrender. This song on the album Draw Near was inspired by Proverbs 3:5-6 — “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
What can you do to practice more simplicity, silence, solitude and surrender?
The song Streams also reminds me of the Coldwater River (in the photo) and was inspired by Psalm 42:1-2 — “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”