For the next several weeks I will be relating song stories from my new recording “Living Oaks”.  In this post I will share the story behind the song “The Peace of Christ”.

Sometimes hurricanes come roaring into our lives.

In September 2017 Hurricane Irma stormed through Florida. One news source indicated that it was the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded outside the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.  As it approached Florida, authorities desperately urged people to evacuate or immediately head to storm shelters. I was in Dallas at a conference when the warnings came, and our church—following the lead of every business in the area—decided to cancel all services the day that Irma was projected to arrive. My wife and family asked me to fly to Minnesota rather than go back to our home in Florida, so I made the arrangements and headed there.

The night that Irma arrived, I slept fitfully some 1600 miles away, waking up every hour to check the news. Early that morning I received this email from a friend who lived in our area:

“The eye of Irma is passing over my house…right NOW!!!”

Even as my heart sunk, I went to my knees and prayed for the safety and welfare of our friends and everyone in the path of the storm. I lifted our newly completed church campus and asked for the Lord’s protection. Finally, I thought about our house— the place that held our worldly possessions— and wondered how it would fare.  Then this scripture verse came to mind:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

It’s easy to read this passage when there is no turbulence or storms on the horizon of life. It’s another thing when you get a call about a loved one, receive an unexpected diagnosis, or face a financial deadline with no answer in sight. It can feel like a devastating hurricane whose sheer winds threaten to tear your world apart.

Even as the pull to despair can feel like a spiral, God reminds us that we are not alone AND His peace—that far surpasses and overrules human rationale— is available for everyone who knows and calls on Him through prayer, petition, and thanksgiving.

On my knees that September early morning I yielded my worries and cares to God as I thanked Him for His power over all things. My prayers were raised to Him even as a sense of calm and assurance flooded into my soul. And a song was born. The lyrics and melody started filling the page:

“When giants stand before me and dark winds lash against my heart

There’s danger I’ll be swallowed by the storm

I lift my eyes upward to the One who saves my soul

I seek His strength to rise above it all

God’s love rolls like a river, flowing out to make me whole

And the peace of Christ fills my troubled soul.

In Faith I can move forward as hope anchors me to God

And the peace of Christ fills my troubled soul”

A short time later a second verse came, and soon the entire song was completed.  In the wake of Irma, there was only slight damage in our area and thankfully no one in our area was seriously injured.  Our house came through unscathed. The next Sunday’s worship was filled with thanksgiving to God, the One who is faithful and true through all the storms and circumstances of life.

A few weeks later I had the opportunity to share the completed song at a worship service with a few hundred women in attendance. The response was overwhelming, and many told me that the song felt like it was their own, as it spoke to their heart and circumstances.

I don’t know what trials you are facing, and I’m some of you are in the middle what feels like a devastating hurricane swirling in your life. I pray that you will cling to the firm anchor of hope—Jesus Christ—and experience His peace as you lift prayers (and yes, even thanksgivings) to Him. I hope this song encourages you to look to the One who saves you in, through, above, and beyond the storms of life.

Let God’s peace fill your troubled soul.

God bless you!

Chris Atkins