You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:36
The fortitude to press forward in the face of resistance is the mark of a steady saint. God’s will is momentarily celebrated on the mountain top, but most of the time is lived climbing a rocky face or regaining balance along a slippery slope. Traversing up or down requires perseverance. Yes, it’s reassuring to walk with someone who has plodded along a similar path. They know when to go boldly and when to wait patiently. God’s will normally works out in a round about way.
What is the will of God for you right now? You can’t go wrong doing the next right thing. Don’t be overwhelmed with what needs to happen six months from now, rather focus on living today to its fullest. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with faith and wisdom for today. Daily obedience leads to weekly goals, leading to monthly objectives, leading to quarterly milestones and finally leading to annual accomplishments. Doing God’s will today leads to doing God’s will tomorrow.
And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:27
For example, if you are a husband or wife begin each day praying for your spouse to feel loved by their Heavenly Father and loved by you. If you are a parent pray the same for your child. If you are single ask the Lord to give you a singular focus to trust and obey. Stay pure by being washed daily with the cleansing power of prayer and God’s word. If you are a supervisor at work ask those you serve how you can help them. God’s will is fully obeying Christ’s commands.
Your Heavenly Father sympathizes with your tension over two conflicting options. He wants you to use this test to lean into His heart and mind. Maybe there is a third option He wants you to discover through the wise counsel of a trusted confidant. Make sure your motivation is not to run away from a problem or conflict, but to persevere as the Holy Spirit reveals what to do next. As you wait out an uncomfortable circumstance the reward of God’s promise awaits you. You do God’s will by doing the next right thing. Walk close with Christ and He will lead you in His will!
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:13
Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me with thanksgiving into the next steps in Your will.
Related Readings: Proverbs 20:7; Mark 3:35; Romans 1:10; Ephesians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4
Post/Tweet today: As you wait out an uncomfortable circumstance the reward of God’s promise awaits you. #doGodswill
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23
Faith creates hope, so where faith is conceived hope is birthed. Yes, hope is the daughter of faith. Those who profess to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior possess hope. Hard times try to hinder hope’s comforting company, but it is unhindered where faith in God is the focus. Those who hold on to hope are happy. Where faith peers hope makes clear. Where there is a wall, hope finds a door. Where there is darkness, hope looks for a light. Hope expects Christ to come through.
What is hope? It is confidence in Jesus Christ, period. Confidence He is faithful. Faithful to follow through with His promise to provide us peace in the middle of our turmoil. Faithful to answer our prayers in His most productive process. Faithful to give our children what they need as long as they look to Him. Faithful to facilitate financial resources when we steward well what we already have. He is faithful by His restorative grace to heal relationships severed by sin. Hope bursts forth in possibilities when we embrace the promises fulfilled by the Lord’s faithfulness.
You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. Job 11:18
Since your security is in your Savior Jesus who has conquered sin, sorrow and death, hope is your wise weapon. Your Heavenly Father holds you in the palm of His hand, therefore nothing can reach you lest your divine protector gives permission. The Holy Spirit is your guide, thus you have a trusted leader who directs your path. “Your hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness.” Your two-handed grasp of God includes His double fisted hold on you!
When hope is deferred avoid rejecting God and giving up. Wait on the Lord and hope in Him. He helps you when you feel helpless. He empowers you when you feel powerless. He encourages you when you feel discouraged. He gives joy when you feel joyless. Hope never disappoints. It gives life and a reason to live. If you let go of hope, your gracious Lord doesn’t let go of you. Like Mount Everest, your hope is unmovable, so hold unswervingly to your living hope: Jesus!
We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. Psalm 33:20
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to hope in You when all seems hopeless.
Related Readings: Psalm 33:22; Proverbs 13:12; Lamentations 3:21-29; Romans 4:18; 1 John 3:3
Post/Tweet today: Like Mount Everest, your hope is unmovable, so hold unswervingly to your living hope: Jesus! #holdontohope
Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25, NKJV
Jesus sits at the right hand of His Father, ever interceding on behalf of His followers. Because of His sinless sacrifice for the human race, followed by His glorious resurrection, He is qualified to mediate between God and man. Christ is positioned in heaven to help all who call on His name. Indeed, just as He selflessly served as the son of man, so He still serves in heaven on behalf of His servants on earth. Jesus is an advocate to Almighty God for those who need mercy and grace.
Praise God, our Heavenly Father looks over to His son Jesus instead of looking down on unholy human beings. In Christ, the Lord sees forgiveness not guilt. He sees sinlessness not sin. He sees acceptance not rejection. He sees life not death. He sees wisdom not foolishness. He sees healing not hurt. He sees grace not law. He sees mercy not judgment. He sees love not hate. Yes, we have entered into a covenant relationship with Christ, thus He represents us to God in purity.
Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Romans 8:34
Where do you struggle? Who has hurt you? Lay your sorrows, fears and pain at the feet of Jesus and He will represent your needs to your loving Heavenly Father. Don’t concern yourself with what might be appropriate or inappropriate to ask of the Lord, because Jesus filters your prayer requests in His righteous wisdom. He will only give over to God what is worthy of the grace of God. Yes, Christ weighs the motive of your heart before He presents your request to God.
Therefore, petition Jesus with bold belief from a pure heart. When you are unsure what to request in prayer, trust Christ to communicate to your Heavenly Father on your behalf. Most of all listen to the Lord and what the Spirit is saying to your spirit. The closer you walk with Christ the closer your will aligns with His will. Prayer becomes a quiet affirmation from the Holy Spirit, as you become one with Jesus. Hallelujah, He lives in heaven and appears for you in God’s presence!
For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Hebrews 9:24
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me Jesus as my personal intercessor at Your throne of grace and mercy.
Related Readings: Job 16:20; Isaiah 53:12; 1 John 2:1; 1 Timothy 2:5
Post/Tweet today: The closer you walk with Christ the closer your will aligns with His will. #Godswill
Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus. Hebrews 12:1-2
Competing attachments distract disciples of Christ from growing in intimacy with Him. Yes, followers of Jesus can voluntarily let go of attachments or they can be forced to release them by their Heavenly Father. What is an attachment? It is anything that competes with our affection with Christ. It can be a material fondness like a car, house or hobby. And, attachments disguise themselves in emotional bondage like anger, unforgiveness or regret. Thus, live disentangled.
Moreover, too many commitments can compete with our commitment to Christ. Debt can be a snare that limits our choices. Unresolved conflict consumes our mind, so much that we have no mental margin for our Lord’s thoughts. Pride and anger dig in their heels and demand ongoing attention. Attachments keep us controlled by people, places and things, instead of God. Yes, what we nurture is who we become. So, lay aside all competing loyalties and focus on Christ alone. My biggest weakness is the latent desire to have my way; only true humility and grace free me up.
You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions. Mark 7:8
Are you entangled by earthly allurements or are you devoted to the Lord and His divine agenda? Does your obedience to Christ’s commands trump all other sirens that constantly call for your time, energy and money? Like a scuba diver’s weight belt takes him to the bottom, so any worldly trappings strapped around your waist will bring you down. But, as you persevere in prayer the Holy Spirit with help you unhook unhealthy habits and relationships from your faith.
Yes, make it a priority to obey God, especially when situations scream differently. Just because everyone else is doing it, or it has always been done that way, doesn’t require your response. In fact, blind allegiance attracts attachments. Examine your motives and make sure you are led by trust in the Lord and not fear of man. Detach yourself from any competing emotion, relationship or behavior that strives for your devotion to Christ. Run your spiritual race freed up by faith!
My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare. Psalm 25:15
Prayer: Heavenly Father, by Your Holy Spirit detach me from any competitors who vie for my devotion to You.
“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).
God’s will is a series of discoveries. It is the transition between discoveries that tests the true nature of my faith. I can press forward by faith, or I can analyze the situation until I am paralyzed by uncertainty. Abraham continued toward the unknown because he was certain the Lord was leading him. Great adventure accompanies my obedience to God.
Believers who are bound and determined to obey Christ are not bored. We are compelled by the love for our Lord to conquer the next challenging circumstance and pioneer the unfamiliar in prayer. We become soft and satisfied when we stop seeking the next kingdom opportunity. Our Savior Jesus is our Sherpa (guide) as we traverse in trust.
“He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way” (Psalm 25:9).
Are you inspired or intimidated by your faith adventure? Do you anticipate or dread doing the next right thing as you fulfill God’s calling on your life? Yes, Christ must come to you in clarity before you venture out for Him in obedience. But once you are sure of the Lord’s leading, do not let up until you have arrived at His destination. Go on your great adventure with God, and like a visit to a new country, enjoy the new sites and people.
The Holy Spirit directs a life on the move, not one that is stuck—preoccupied with either pleasure or pain. “A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9 nkjv). So make prayerful plans, but all the while remain nimble to the nudge of God’s Spirit. If you fall in love with your plans, you may miss adjusting to the Almighty’s way.
There is a reward to those who remain true to God’s call. It may only be the satisfaction of knowing you faithfully followed the Lord, but this is all that matters in the end. As a pilgrim passing through this life, launch your next eternal endeavor and experience the righteous ride with Him. Nothing risked may mean nothing lost, but every journey for Jesus is great gain. Discover what He wants today, and it will lead to what He wants tomorrow.
“Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies— make your way straight before me” (Psalm 5:8).
Prayer: What great adventure does God have for me? What can I do today to trust and obey?
Related Readings: Proverbs 11:3; Isaiah 48:17; Luke 4:1–3; Galatians 5:16–18
Post/Tweet: The Holy Spirit directs a life on the move, not one that is stuck—preoccupied with either pleasure or pain. #HolySpirit
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. Hebrews 11:24-26
To sacrifice is to give up something for a purpose greater than ourselves. Moses gave up status for servanthood. He gave up the fleeting pleasures of sin for cruel mistreatment with the masses. He gave up fame and fortune in disgrace for the sake of Christ. Moses gave up rewards on earth as he looked ahead to his rewards in heaven. Yes, examples of sacrificial living energize others to sacrifice. The sacrificial spirit of past saints give inspiration, as do sacrificial givers of today.
Who comes to your mind as an example of sacrificial living? A mother who sacrifices her comfort to comfort her children? She sacrifices her leisure time to serve the disabled, the elderly or the chronically ill. A father who sacrifices his career for a focused season of service to his family? He sacrifices his hobby so he is able to volunteer at church, attend school events and serve on a board. Soldiers sacrifice for their country. Teachers sacrifice for their students. Civic leaders sacrifice for their citizens. Pastors sacrifice for their flock. And spouses sacrifice for their spouse.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1
Where is Christ calling you to sacrifice? Vocationally, you may need to give up an advancement opportunity and status for availability and humility. Spiritually, you may need to give up an unhealthy habit for a righteous routine. Relationally, you may need to give up a fertile field of temptation for guardrails of accountability. Physically, you may need to give up excessive food intake for smaller portions. Financially, you may need to give up accumulation for distribution.
Above all else, think and pray often on the ultimate sacrifice of life Jesus gave so we could have life in Him. He laid down His life to lift ours up in abundance. He took on the form of a servant so we could be free to serve Him. He gave up the accolades of a conventional teacher so we could become students of His unconventional teaching. He sacrificed for our sin so we could be forgiven and free not to sin. He gave up His life so we could give back our life on His behalf!
By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished. Isaiah 53:8
Prayer: Heavenly Father, grow in me a sacrificial spirit that quietly serves others.
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. Hebrews 4:9-11
It is hard for some people to rest from their work. They love their work, enjoy their work, and may even worship their work. Hard, smart, and productive work is good, but worshiping work is bad. It is reckless and leads to ruin. It may be relational ruin, physical ruin, or even financial ruin. But work that is worshipped gets out of hand quickly. God is the only one who deserves worship. It is good to be proud of your work with pure motivation and to produce quality, but do not allow work to become an end in itself. Your true identity does not come from work; if it does you are positioned for a roller coaster ride of emotion. One day you will feel secure and another day you will be swept away by insecurity.
As a follower of Christ, your identity is found in Him. This is one reason why rest from work is vital. When you work all the time you tend to drift from your moorings of faith in Christ to faith in yourself. It becomes a trust issue. “Can God be trusted enough for me to rest from my work?” Of course He can handle the work that remains. He divinely redeems the time of your limited work and produces more lasting results; results that will last longer than if you had worked all the time. After all, you are His workmanship in Christ Jesus. When you take the time to cease working, God is allowed to accelerate His work in you. Some of God’s best work takes place when you don’t work. He works better when you don’t. His work is a work of grace, and it is a beautiful sight to behold. So, enjoy your Sabbath rest as He works on your heart. Allow Him to draw you to Himself so when you go back to work you are refreshed and revitalized.
There is a trap to avoid as you take a break from work and enter into God’s Sabbath rest. You can physically be away from work and still be at work mentally, so free your mind from this split-focused activity. Do not make your mind jealous over your body’s freedom from work. Rest your thoughts from work, and you will discover your thinking is more robust and innovative when you reengage in your work. During your Sabbath rest, shift your thinking to the bigger thoughts of God and His plan. Superimpose simple faith in Him over the complex issues that are assaulting your rest.
Your mind, body, and emotions are all part of your Sabbath rest. If your Sabbath rest from work involves people, then relate to them with relevance and relationship. Let them see the sincerity of your involved presence. Do not act as if you wish you were somewhere else. Your rest is a time for you to relate the ways of God to others. Your life is a testament to God’s faithfulness. Let others read it up close and personal. Your Sabbath rest can be a catalyst for others to reengage with God. Set the example and watch others follow. Your Sabbath rest gives others permission to do the same. It’s not always easy to get to God’s rest, but once you arrive it is well worth the effort. His rest ignites your obedience and trust. So, rest from work and rest in Him. Then watch your work become better.
Post/Tweet: Rest from work, rest in Him and watch your work become better. #restfromwork
"No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it's painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way." Hebrews 12:11 (NLT)
We were already late for church when the fight began. One daughter was upset the other had told a lie. I sighed. Not right before it's time to leave, please!
It'd been a long week and I was tired. But lies are not allowed in the Glasgow home and this was something I had to take care of now. I called both girls to The Pink Couch, the place set aside to talk to our children.
They both sat down and gave their side of the story. It was clear who was telling the truth and who wasn't. I dismissed the one that wasn't lying and asked the one who did to admit she had and to say sorry. She wouldn't. After 15 minutes she still hadn't confessed. She was only four, but don't let a four year old fool you, she knew I needed to get out the door. I was her Sunday School teacher.
It would have been so easy to put her lie on the back burner, but I made an executive decision. "Dale would you teach my class today? I can't leave until this is resolved." As the rest of our family headed out the door, I told my daughter that until she told the truth she would sit on The Pink Couch. An hour passed, then two, then three. How could my child who normally couldn't sit still for thirty minutes bide her time without any entertainment for hours? Though we were sitting quietly, waiting it out drained me.
Finally, she admitted her lie with a sincere heart and said, "I'm sorry." We hugged and to this day I've never heard her say another lie.
I've got five almost-grown daughters now. Whew! The discipline part was a lot of work and one thing remained constant whether they were four or 14—discipline always took time, wisdom, discernment and love.
It would have been easier and saved energy to just let the lie slide. But, the Bible tells us "No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it's painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way" (Hebrews 12:11).
Discipline is not fun for those receiving it OR for those administering it. Let's be honest, parenting can be exhausting! But consistency comes with a great reward. Investing time and ensuring the same consequences yields good fruit in our children's lives.
My husband and I have pear trees on our land. Some can take years to bear fruit, but with regular watering, pruning and fertilizing, our trees eventually show the results of our labor.
Most parents would say they desire for their kids to grow up and live in peace with the Lord. That's exactly the outcome Hebrews 12:11 promises us if we don't give up when our children are young. Rather than making a quick decision that only modifies their behavior for the moment, we have to aim at changing our children's hearts for the long term.
As my then four-year-old daughter and I sat for hours that Sunday morning, I knew I had to nip this in the bud or the consequences would negatively impact her future. She's an adult now and will gladly tell you what a strong impact the discipline of sitting on The Pink Couch had on her.
Unimaginable energy goes into raising godly children. You may want to do what I did: stay on your knees in prayer and mediate on the Word day and night so that you can be encouraged and have wisdom on rearing your kids. It can be exhausting, but the work is worth the great reward!
Dear Lord, give me the wisdom, discernment, time and love I need to discipline my children to be the godly people You desire. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources: I Used to be So Organized by Glynnis Whitwer will help you manage your time, so you can have more to invest in your children.
Reflect and Respond:
Do you follow through in disciplining your children in consistent ways? If you told them not to do something one day and they do it the next, what are the consequences?
In order to discipline in love we need a relationship with Jesus, who is love. Spend some time today focusing on His Word, praying or worshipping Him.
Ephesians 6:4, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." (NIV)
Proverbs 29:17, "Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire." (NIV)
There’s nothing like life experience to provide a deeper, richer emotional palette for a songwriter to draw from when crafting new music. For Amy Grant, it’s been 10 years since her last full studio album and it’s been a decade marked by soul-shaking milestones. As she’s always done, Grant has embraced both the triumphs and challenges, distilled them to their essence and poured the lessons learned into songs that ache with honesty and reverberate with gentle wisdom.
How Mercy Looks From Here is the soundtrack of a life well-lived. “A lot of major life changes happened during these past few years.” Grant says. “So on this record, there’s zero filler. Every song has a real story behind it.”
In chatting with Amy, I saw, again, that here is a woman of deep faith. Deep love. Love for family. Love for art. Love for food. Yes, food. And love for God.
John: Before we talk about the new record, do you want to talk a little bit about what you’ve been doing over the last 10 or so years since the last new record? Is that too big of a question?
Amy: I’ve been… Ten years is a lot of life!
John: That’s a lot of life.
Amy: It’s not that I haven’t made music in 10 years. I’ve toured and just from a work standpoint, I never stopped working. Just had a little less energy for being in the studio. In the last 10 years, we’ve gone from four kids under the roof to one. It’s a big change. I have two daughters living in New York now, a son who’s getting his engineering and applied mathematics degree and then a lot of personal changes that you just never know when those things are going to happen.
There was the death of some good friends and my mom. A fellow musician, Will Owsley, who I’ve made a lot of music with. A good friend of mine who’ve I’ve played music with, my gosh, for 15 years, passed away in 2009. Anyway, I think there are times that are just sort of more creative, and there are times to just hunker down and be in life.
John: When you go through the process of creating art, is that something you more or less feel compelled from your own heart, where it just kind of flows from you? Or is it more structured than that? Do you sit down, and take the time to say, “Okay, now I have to work here.”
Amy: As far as song ideas, those just appear because they’re triggered by something. I might hold onto a song idea for quite some time before I sit down to put it into a song. Probably what makes me focus on an actual project is a deadline. I don’t know how you are in your life, you’re clearly a writer, but I don't know much time you make to sit down and just write for art’s sake. Since this last year I knew I had a record due and sometimes the responsibility of a deadline makes you disciplined. I consider it a gift.
John: Do you know how many songs you have written?
Amy: I don’t write 100 songs a year or anything like that. I’ve written only a couple songs some years, but I’ve done this for a long time, so I don’t know. Maybe a couple hundred.
John: Amy, you are a singer, you’re obviously a songwriter, you’re a musician, you’re an actress and you’re an author. How do you encourage some of the people that are reading this now, who feel like they have too much on their plate and they don’t have time being a wife or a mom or a daughter or a co-worker? How do you manage all of life?
Amy: I have to go back and say that I would use the term actress very loosely. I can’t speak for a man, but for a woman it might feel like we’re juggling all things at all times. But I think in reality that different things take priority, kind of in a revolving pattern. If you’re a working mom, there are times that a deadline at work forces you to put that on the front burner and there’s no rest until it’s done. I think maybe it’s good to say occasionally what matters the most, either to write it down or to talk about it with a good trusted friend.
If how you’re spending your time never matches up to what your priorities are, then I think we need to be honest and say, “This is my priority.” If something is a priority and it never matches up with the time that you’re spending on it, there needs to be a change in how we’re spending our time. I have done all those things, but someone told me that one time. Everybody’s life is so different that it’s hard to say what’s going to give someone more time.
The list of things I’ve done doesn’t tell you how I spend my time on a daily basis. For instance, we don’t eat out very much. You might think I do. Maybe it’s because when I’m on the road, I’m never digging into my own refrigerator. But I think the kitchen is the hub of the home. And because I travel so much with work, when we’re home, I’m almost always cooking something. I’m not a great cook, but I’m decent, so I always make sure there are good things in the refrigerator.
When I get really overwhelmed with work or I feel very scattered, I will go into the kitchen and start cooking. Easier said than done sometimes, I know. For someone who has a 9 to 5 job, that might not work so well. But you can do it on the weekends. I find that when I start cooking, I have time to think. People walk through the kitchen because they smell something good, and they go, “Hey, what’s that smell?” So there’s the social side of it too. And if you don’t have an idea at first of what you’re going to cook, just cut up some onions and put them in a little olive oil in the skillet and then it starts to smell good. My family may ask, “What is it?” I go, “I don’t know. I’m just buying time.” That’s just for me.
Cooking’s a very centering process. Somebody is always hungry and I’m cooking in mass, and so I know one of my friends is not going to have had time to make dinner or somebody I know might be sick, but I will just go, “Oh, man. I am feeling so scattered and really sad. I feel like I’m untethered. I can’t figure out what’s wrong,” so I start cooking. We all have our trigger points. For me, if I can start cooking, it gives me time to think, and then people come into the kitchen. My daughter will come in, sit on the kitchen counter and we just start talking. Anyway, those are some of the reasons I like it.
Amy: He only really cooks one meal a year, Christmas breakfast for the whole family. He loves to eat and so it’s nice to cook when you’ve got someone in the house who loves to eat.
John: Does he make the same Christmas meal every year?
Amy: It just kind of anything breakfast-y that you can think of.
John: He goes beyond just, “Here’s bowl of cereal.”
Amy: Yes. It’s like sausage, bacon, sometimes waffles, eggs. He started doing that years ago. It’s so nice to just sit there with a cup of coffee and watch him work. I like that.
John: That’s a nice gift. Amy, let’s talk a little bit about the new record, How Mercy Looks From Here. What went into that title as a theme?
Amy: It’s the title of one of the songs. I had that phrase floating around in my head for quite some time. I was anxious to write a song. I think the great thing about living for a while is that the longer you live, the less quick you are to say, “This is a good thing, this is a bad thing.” I just say, “Well, this is what it is, and now we live with this.”
John: In one of the lyrics in that song, I think you sang, “I would have given up drowning in my tears if it wasn’t for your voice all these years.” What’s behind that?
Amy: That song originally came from a really difficult time. I think the idea for that song was born in the first week of May, 2010. A lot of really awful things happened that week, and some really beautiful things as well. But with each extreme, what I experienced alone and what I experienced with my family was that we encountered a kind of gentle grace and mercy.
Some within, with each other. I’ll tell you what happened that week. It started off on a Friday, Will Owsley, a good friend of mine, a musician, killed himself. It was awful and I went to his home that night. His mom and dad had come up from Anniston, Alabama and we were all just in shock. Then it started raining on Saturday, the next day. The biggest flood that’s ever been in recorded history hit Nashville. I guess it crested on Monday. Like a lot of people, we were not physically hurt, but we lost a lot of things.
A lot of guitars that were at a storage facility and a rehearsal hall called Sound Check; probably all of our road cases and guitars. Of course in the wake of Will’s death, that seemed like nothing, but it was actually very difficult to even get in the car to go to his funeral because the roads were still flooded. Then it was also beautiful being with his family. And it was beautiful watching the community of Nashville come together to help each other out with the flood.
Then, as a family, we were anticipating the wedding of our oldest daughter, Jenny, which was that Saturday. We were forging ahead with this outdoor wedding in our yard and making those plans, putting up tents. The woman who was the wedding planner, and handles all the decorations, said her home was completely destroyed. She was living out of a hotel and we said, “What can we do?” She said, “You know what? I can’t get home until the water recedes.” Her car was, I mean, the whole thing was under water. She said, “I’m living in a hotel and I just want to lose myself in this celebration. At the beginning of a married couple’s life and I’ll just deal with the mud later.” Watching that, we were going, “Oh, my goodness!” It was the most beautiful, joyful coming together. All week there were preparations and it was just so great. My mom and dad were over every day. Then on Thursday, a cousin of mine was killed in Afghanistan. Friday morning I’m at their home mourning again. Extremes.
We were just talking about what a blessing he was. And his four siblings had sat around and made this recording with a friend of ours for several hours, reminiscing about family history. Just the timing of it was so merciful. Everybody was thankful for Skype, and that it hadn’t been months or weeks since they’d seen Adam’s face. Just processing, but feeling this sense of love and the mercy in the middle of it.
Then that night, we had Jenny’s rehearsal dinner in our front yard because the location had been rained out for her rehearsal dinner. Our house is at the top of a little hill on the street. She got married in the front yard, I mean the rehearsal dinner’s in the front yard and the next day the wedding was in the side yard and the reception was in the backyard. I got to tell you, that was such an emotional rollercoaster week, the whole thing. I came away from that week saying, “I feel like from every angle I have seen how mercy looks. “ It took a couple of years to write the song, but I kept going, “I’ve got to write that song ‘How Mercy Looks From Here.’”
John: I don’t want to say that all of your other records are not spiritual, because they certainly are, all of them are, but there are songs on here that go really deep. The one you were just talking about, “How Mercy Looks From Here,” which is the title track, and the first single “Don’t Try so Hard,” are quite spiritual. Has there been a spiritual awakening or a deep rootedness you’ve felt? You obviously have been talking about the various things that have happened in your life in the last few years, has God done something amazing?
Amy: Well, I think He always does. Whether you’re writing about it or not. I think that on this record, in particular, I wanted every song to matter. That came directly from a conversation I had with my mom. My mother passed away in April of 2011. It’s February, I was home from a road trip, kind of an extensive tour with Michael W. Smith, from Fall 2010 to the Spring of 2011. Anyway, I had gone by to see my mom and dad, they both suffered with dementia.
My dad’s still living and he has full blown dementia, but my mom … If you’re going to have to vote for a kind of dementia to have, Lewy Bodies is a good kind to have because it doesn’t change your personality. It just changes your relationship with reality. Sometimes it comes and goes, sometimes it seemed almost like she was in time travel or something like that.
One time my niece was visiting her and my mom was so excited. She confided in my niece that she thought she was pregnant, which would have been a nightmare since she was 78. But she was so excited about … My aunt Gracie said, “Doe, you’re 78. There’s no way you’re pregnant.” My mother’s like, “I am? That’s awful.”
And there was the time I had gone to see her in February. It was nighttime and we had our visit and then I said, “Mom, I’ve got to go pack and get back on the bus.” And she said, “Oh, you’re getting a bus.” I’m like, “Yes, I’m going to do a show. I’m traveling with Michael W. and I’ve been singing so much this year.” She went, “Ah, you sing?” Okay here we go… I said, “I do.” I’m so used to that pattern of her being there and then not being there. I said, “I do, I sing.”
“What kind of songs do you sing?” she asked. I told her and she asked, “Will you sing something for me?” So I did and she was so adorable. Then she said, “Can I go with you?” I pictured my mother crawling into one of those bunks and I said, “Maybe not this time. We’ll talk about it when I’m back in town.” I kissed her on the cheek and I was heading out the door and she said, “Hey, will you do me a favor?” I turned back and I said, “Sure, what?”
She said, “When you get on that stage, sing something that matters.” I said, “I will do that.” That was not our last conversation, but it was in the last eight weeks of her life. I’m dedicating this record to her. Gloria Napier Grant. I believe that was probably a driving force in the song choices. They’re not all of the spiritual nature, but they all matter.
John: Amy, on the song, “Deep As It Is Wide,” you have some quest vocals.
Amy: Yes, but that’s the only song on the record that I was not a part writer on.
John: Who are the other singers?
Amy: Erik Paslay. He wrote that song six years ago and I have loved it. I’ve had a copy of it for four years. I’ve loved it.
John: It’s a great song.
Amy: I’ve listened to it incessantly in the last months of my mom’s life. He is the one that gave me the permission to sing it with him. He wanted to do a group thing. Erik and Sheryl Crow and myself. I’m just crazy about that song and they’re both dear friends of mine. Erik and I were both at the studio, because we were working simultaneously with the same producer, Marshall Altman. I said, “Erik, either say yes we can do the song or no we can’t.”
He was really dragging his feet because so many people had asked him to record that song. Little Big Town wanted to record it, Lady Antebellum wanted to record it and he kept saying, “No.” I said, “Just say no, it’s okay.” He said, “No. I think I want you to be singing on this song,” and I said, “Okay, well great. What else? Do you want it to be like a group of singers?” He said, “I guess so.” As a songwriter, what you write, those are your gems. That’s clearly a great song. Erik will, hopefully, have a great career in country music.
I have good audience in the Christian music community and so I said, “Why don’t we ask Cheryl, because she’s more of the rock-n-roll background. That way we’re really speaking to three different communities. He said, “I like that. I like that.” Because really it’s about the song, especially that song. We called her up and she said, “I’m getting ready to lie down for a nap. I’ll listen to it as soon as I get down, and I’ll call you back.” She called back and said, “How did I get lucky straw to get to sing on this song?”
John: That’s great. Amy, do you have a passage in the Bible that you’re particularly close to right now?
Amy: That’s a good question. I spend a lot of time memorizing Scripture. I would say the eleventh chapter of Hebrews is swirling around my head currently. Really the whole thing, I think, because it dove tails with this book that I’m reading right now called The Epic of Eden. Who’s the author of that? Let me see. Sandra Richter is the author. She’s a professor at some seminary.
The songs on How Mercy Looks From Here represent a season of growth, yet as personal as they are, they are also universal. Everyone can relate to love, loss and the passing of time. “At some point in life you realize that some things really matter and some things don’t,” Grants says. “Living matters. Celebrating life matters. Seeing the value in hard times matters. Relationships and people matter. Faith matters. I feel like that’s where my head has been while writing and recording his project. I feel this is a very positive record. I hope it is life affirming. Life prepares us for the journey. You don’t know what’s ahead and that is one of the great things about getting older in a framework of faith. Faith is the one thing that stands the test of time.”
Amy Three Caregiving Tips
In this video, Amy talks about caring for her father who has profound dementia and what families can do to make this time one of meaning and spiritual growth.
"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23 (NIV)
The sky was blue. The snow crisp white. The mountain slopes full of choices to be made. Which run will we take?
We decided to tackle a "blue run" first.
The ski officials label the slopes by color. The same officials whose job it is to inform skiers exactly what they're about to get into. Yes, those of us crazy enough to strap glorified popsicle sticks to our feet and careen down a mountain need to be informed.
Green for beginners. Blue for intermediates. Black for advanced and those who think they're advanced until they get too far to turn back. Bummer.
We decided we would be smart. We wouldn't overestimate our skiing abilities by tackling the black runs. But blue? Yes, please.
The perfect skiing adventure.
We'd been on several lovely runs down the same slope when my husband Art suggested we try a different slope. Huh? I am emotionally allergic to different. I like to discover something that's good and stick with it. Why mess with what's working? With what feels good?
"It will be great," he insisted and headed over to the new lift.
Either I was going to follow him or be left behind. That's when I had my first not-so-nice thought. I call them cussing thoughts. It's not that I was actually saying cuss words. No, more like really negative thoughts that I wouldn't want to broadcast out loud.
So, a new slope it would be.
Things started out well. And then the slope got a little interesting. Have you ever heard, "Everything was going fine until we hit a bump in the road"? Yes, well, try a steep mountain full of nothing but bumps. Like the kind that could catapult you off the side of the mountain. Or snap your legs in half.
As fear coursed through every fiber of my body, my mind filled with all things negative and derogatory. Things that were not going to make that trip down the slope an easy one.
What I really needed was to resist the cussing thoughts so I could choose the corrected thoughts. Because dark thoughts are like a black run down the mountain. Once you get on the black slope of cussing thoughts they'll take you down to places you don't want to go.
But in that moment, I didn't choose the corrected thoughts. I made that run so much more difficult by letting the cussing thoughts come in and bring me down.
How like life.
Every day we're going to hit bumpy spots.
Someone will do something that rubs you wrong. Cussing thoughts or corrected thoughts?
You don't get that opportunity you felt you deserved. Cussing thoughts or corrected thoughts?
A cussing thought can become a corrected thought by asking three questions:
* Is this thought in line with truth?
* Is this thought in line with who I am?
* Is this thought in line with who I want to be?
God has taught me how to think using His truth but I have to make the choice to apply what I've learned.
God has challenged me to live out Hebrews 10:23, "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful."
"Hold unswervingly. Hold. Unswervingly." What does this mean?
God has challenged me to grow in my knowledge of Him but I have to choose whether or not to display this growth through my thoughts and actions.
Think according to truth. Live according to truth. Then His hope will be displayed in my life.
Just like mountain slopes have options for which run to take... so do I with the thoughts I think. Cussing thoughts or corrected thoughts. My choice.
Dear Lord, I am so grateful for Your truth. Give me strength today as I hit some bumpy spots. Make my thoughts pure and in alignment with Your Word. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Feel like your thoughts are making you want to come unglued? In her New York Times best-selling book, Lysa teaches how to take control of your feelings in order to have godly reactions. Click here to purchase your copy of Unglued.
Reflect and Respond:
What cussing thoughts are you having today?
Write down one you're struggling with. Then, write down a corrected, truth-based thought to replace it with.
Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." (NIV)
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