(My newest recording “Living Oaks” is now available! The next few weeks I will be sharing stories about songs on this recording)
God can use lonely times in our lives to produce something beautiful.
The first summer that I served in my position as worship pastor our home church in Florida (Live Oaks Community Church) was exciting, busy… and a little lonely.
It was exciting building a new ministry in a growing church, and enjoyable as the church hurriedly prepared to move into a new campus. During June, the first month of my ministry, the lead pastor and I met to discuss the upcoming inaugural service at our new campus building that would be completed later in August. As we discussed ideas for music, the thought occurred to write a worship song for that event. We talked about it and prayed for God’s wisdom and inspiration. The next couple of weeks I spent time in the Bible reading, reflecting, and praying on some scriptures that came to me, but no new song inspiration came.
On a personal level, moving cross-country into a temporary rental house, planning and arranging the financial and logistical details of our new home, and living out of boxes and suitcases made for a complicated and crazy time.
Loneliness was also part of that summer because my wife Terese was still in Minnesota—finishing her job so she could take early retirement in the fall. We talked on the phone a few times each day, praying together and encouraging each other. I looked forward to the weekend each month when she would fly down to Florida and spend a few days with me. Each moment of her visit was treasured, and driving her back to the airport at the end of each stay was hard for me.
The Fourth of July holiday was the low point on the loneliness scale for me. My family was up in Minnesota, most people from my church were out of town, and I was alone for a few days. A tinge of sadness crept in as the holiday approached, so I traveled a couple hours to do some projects and work on an empty house my sister and brother-in-law were trying to sell. A video call from my family, all gathered for an outdoor picnic in Minnesota, was both precious and hard, as I felt their love while also feeling a world away from them. After a long day of projects, I sat in the empty house and prayed for a few minutes before making the trek back to the rental house where I was staying. Then I saw the beautiful grand piano that stood near their living room. I was drawn to it and sat down to play.
Within a few minutes, words and music to a new song started pouring out of me:
“God, You called us here and planted us like seedlings by streams of living water…Like living oaks, trees of righteousness, planted by You, Lord, for Your glory…”
That day a new song “Living Oaks” was created, one that became a signature worship anthem for our church. It was first sung at the inaugural service at our new campus later that summer, and since then it has become a part of the fabric of our church’s DNA. Today “Living Oaks” is one of the new worship songs on my original recording of the same title.
In retrospect, I realize God allowed that lonely time in my life to produce something of beauty: a song that has blessed many people. In fact, he leveraged my time alone to help me understand that He can make light out of darkness, beauty out of sadness, and music out of loneliness.
Whatever loneliness you may be experiencing right now, I pray that you will cling to this fact: God is with you and will never leave you. He will make something new and beautiful out of the circumstances you are encountering. Trust Him, rest in Him, and pour out your heart to Him. He has something good awaiting you just around the corner.
“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”
God bless you!