(In this latest blog series, I am sharing the stories behind some of my original recorded music. I hope you enjoy hearing the songs and reading the background behind each one.)
One of the greatest honors of my life has been to be the father to four outstanding and beloved children, all of whom are now grown.
Being a parent involves actively engaging with, teaching, and guiding children while they are young and growing. It also involves the process of letting go as they venture into the unique paths of their individual lives. Letting go is both joyful and painful, as you realize that the relationship with your children has changed and will no longer necessarily include day-to-day interactions.
When I wrote the song “Always There” it was during the season of graduations. When each of my children graduated, I would fondly remember—and even long to relive—the days when I could hold each of them in my arms, play with them, tell them stories, tuck them in, help them with projects and studies, and pray with them. I missed the times we went on vacations: boating, fishing, water skiing, and fun time spent time at the lake. The memories flooded past me, even as I realized those treasured days flew by faster than the autumn wind.
But juxtaposed to that realization was the immense joy and satisfaction of seeing them mature and grow to be the human beings God created them to be. A profound sense of gratefulness filled me as I recalled that God has been so good to my family, in happy times and even in the difficult days when sicknesses, disappointments, and corrections were in the mix. I have always sensed the presence and goodness of my heavenly Father towards and in our family.
The song “Always There” was born out of love, joy, and even a little sadness as I saw my kids graduating and moving on to college and life beyond our household. It is a personal love song for my kids and a promise that I will be available to them as long as God gives me breath on this planet. More importantly, the song is my prayer that they would turn to God, whose love for them as their heavenly Father will always remain, regardless of life’s circumstances. God’s Fatherly love will never fade or fail, as He spoke through the prophet Jeremiah:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love’ (Jeremiah 31:3)
God is an ever-loving, always faithful Father. The writer John pointed to this when he wrote:
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (John 3:1)
Finally, God’s love is unconditional and boundless. He will never stop loving anyone and everyone who comes to Him. Although my love for my family is great, God’s love is infinitely greater and unfailing, as Paul wrote:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k]neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38)
In the season of watching our children move on, the song “Always There” poured out like a flood. It didn’t take long for the words and music to come together. I sang it at a baccalaureate service that included one of my kids, and then at several services and concerts. The response to the song was great, and God opened the door for me to record it.
I was incredibly blessed to work alongside my friend Matt Kirkwold—a prolific musician, arranger, and producer— to bring this song to life. As we were working on the song, another stellar musician and arranger, Paul Peterson (who has served as music director and arranger for well-known artists such as Donny Osmond), joined the effort and added background vocals, strings, and additional keyboards. As I listen to “Always There” today I am still moved by the quality and stirring arrangement of the recording.
Even though I can’t be with them, every day I pray for my kids (and grandchildren!) and regularly remind them that I love them and am here whenever they have a need. As a dad, the promises made to my family in the song “Always There” still hold true: I am there when they need me, but most importantly, God is there with them and for them- ALL the time.
God bless you.
( “Always There” is included on Chris Atkins’ recording “Living Oaks”)