Saturday, November 26, 2011

Rocks in My Shoes

In October I had the good fortune of attending a Stephen Curtis Chapman concert and have since been enjoying his music along with that of his two fellow performers: Josh Wilson and Andrew Peterson.  (It's the Songs & Stories Tour.)  It was a wonderful evening filled with great music from three dedicated and talented Christian musicians.  As I drove to the concert with a friend, I reflected on the horrible tragedy that struck the Chapman family back in 2008 and wondered how this dreadful event impacted their lives, relationships, and faith.  My impression that evening at the concert was that Chapman's current album seems to be his re-entry into the world: "re:creation." The album is described thusly on his website:
"re:creation is the 17th studio album from Steven Curtis Chapman which features five new songs [and] all-new re-imagined recordings of eight of his biggest hits. In examining how to best recreate some of the songs that made him the most awarded..."
The re-recorded hits are more of an acoustic arrangements, and they are FABULOUS!!!

All three men gifted the audience with a thoroughly entertaining and uplifting evening.  I was particularly struck by one of Chapman's songs: "Long Way Home."  He introduced it, strumming lightly on a ukelele, an instrument he recently discovered.  If I remember his words correctly, he said he felt that God wanted him to learn to play it, because you can't help but be happy when you hear a ukelele, and God was wanting Stephen to be happy again.  As he played, there was a verse that grabbed my attention: "I got some rocks in my shoes."  These were words with which I so deeply connected.  I have so many rocks in my shoes that impede my journey. 

For a little more context, here are some of the other lyrics from Chapman's song:
I got some rocks in my shoes
Fears I wish I could lose
They make the mountains so hard to climb
And my heart gets so heavy with the weight of the world sometimes

There's a bag of regrets
My should've beens and not yets
I keep on dragging around
And I can hardly wait for the day I get to lay it all down
Rocks in my shoes ... I pause to reflect on how even just a tiny, almost grain-like piece of gravel can be irritating.  Just yesterday as I worked in the yard, there was a tiny pebble under my heal, and I kept shaking my foot hoping the pebble would drop out without having to remove my shoes.  But, to no avail.  I had to stop what I was doing, so distracted and irritated by such a tiny thing, pulled off my shoe and shook out the offending bit of rock.

Interesting how something so tiny, if in just the right spot (in this case, right under my heel bone), can cause so much distraction and aggravation!  These rocks, pebbles, and grains of sand are a lot like irritations and trials in life.  There are the huge rocks that  may blister and bruise our feet and cause us to limp.  Life can likewise bruise and blister us, hobbling us in our journey.  Sometimes these "rocks in our shoes" are lifelong.  Then, there are the small, irritations that cause distraction during our endeavors.  Either way, there comes a time when we must occasionally stop and shake out our shoes -- and shake out our souls.  But, as we continue along our journey, life will cause another rock to sneak into our shoes ... or there is the stone or two that we cannot shake.  It won't be until our final day that, as Chapman writes, we'll be able to lay down our burden.

In the meantime, between here at our current milemarker along The Journey and that final day, let us rely on God to bind up our wounds as He whispers His love and encouragement.  Let us remember the Balm in Gilead:
There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin-sick soul.
Some times I feel discouraged,
And think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit
Revives my soul again.
If you can’t preach like Peter,
If you can’t pray like Paul,
Just tell the love of Jesus,
And say He died for all.

 I am that sin-sick soul, Lord.  Please soothe my pains and heal me with your balm.

[Note: The three albums I promptly bought after the concert and highly recommend are Chapman's "re:creation", Wilson's "See You", and Peterson's "Counting Stars."  All are conveniently available for download from iTunes.]

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