Well, this song has been a long time coming! But FIRST, and announcement! This song is the first song to be recorded for what will become, Lord willing, album #2: Old Testament Songs!!! WOO!!! So, to whomever reads this...I hope you are as excited as I am!
I actually recorded this song back in Greenville about 8 or 9 years ago now, and then there was this organization that connected upcoming songwriters with CCM successes...so TobyMac of all people listened to it! (No, I don't know him and he doesn't know me. They just connect your music via the interwebs). He had said it was really great, about an 8 out of 10, but that it could grow. He said I was so focused on rhyming the word wilderness that I overused it and everything rhymed. So, I gave it some space, rewrote the lyrics, and then never thought I'd do anything with it again. Until I started recording in Nashville again. This is the only song I'll ever ask Luke to "re-record." But, the lyrics were so much better than before, and I felt like we could do better instrumentally as well. And I was right :). Also, quick side note: TobyMac said that I remind him of Kevin Max! I'm not sure if I should take that as a complement...because he's a dude and I'm not. But, his voice is awesome. So, there's that.
So, what is this song about? I wrote it during my first year of teaching, which I've explained was very hard. But, it was also written after a summer of diving into the Scriptures about the Israelites wandering the wilderness. As a summer camp staff, we looked at the mistakes and successes of God's people, His patience, His discipline, His providence, and began to see how we could apply it to our lives and work. But, then I started my first year of teaching and it was much harder than camp. Thankfully, some of the ideas came rushing back. God never left His people without what they needed...even if they didn't like their current situation. And even though the song ends up a bit more hopeful that what I may have felt most of that first year, it is what I needed. Besides the fact that the lyrics are simply better, I love how the new recording of this song panned out. The verses make you feel like you are plodding through the wilderness, and the chorus, though connected, lifts musically. Which is what I hope the lyrics are doing as well: they are proclaiming the truth. That is what we must do when we are in the wilderness. Proclaim the truth that He is with us, hope is not lost, He will provide, He will restore all things even if He isn't at that exact moment. So, I'm excited about that!
Last awesome part of the song is I got to put the words Mount Gerizim into a song!! Moses instructs Joshua and all the people, as they leave the wilderness to stand on two mountains with a valley in between. They are close enough together (and the Israelites numerous enough) that if they yell in unison, the other side will hear them. Half the tribes stand on Mount Ebal, and pronounce the curses that will come upon them if they disobey God. The other half of the tribes stand on Mount Gerizim and pronounce the blessings that will come as a result of obedience. That is my aim: to live in such a way that I hear the words "Well done, good and faithful servant," and in such a way that we strive for obedience, knowing the blessings of God that follow. I hope it is sooner rather than later that you get to hear the studio version, but here are the lyrics!
Praise in the Wilderness
Seems like yesterday I saw the Red Sea part
All my enemies drown at the Red Sea’s heart
Funny how soon I’ve found myself in the wilderness
Even out here in the desert place, the blessings flow
I have found all I’ve needed on the desert floor
Here I stand with so much less than I’ve had before
But out here in the wilderness
There’s more than you know
You can’t feel this by word of my mouth
Come and taste it and see for yourself
You’ve got to believe there seems to be more
I know that this appears upside down
That the wilderness is where hope abounds
You’ve got to believe; come be restored
Mile after mile, I am lost in the sun and sand
But I’ve learned I don’t need to know where I am
Just to know where I’m going: that is enough for me
Every step brings me closer than where I’ve been
Every test makes me stronger than how I’d lived
With past regrets and emptiness, Oh I don’t know how it is
That deep inside this wilderness
I’m not alone
I must admit there are times I don’t understand
And I feel like this journey will never end
But I’ve always had the strength it takes to keep walking through
So I’ll shout forth my blessings on desert sand
Even more from the top of Mount Gerizim
As I descend to the Jordan, and I leave this wilderness
I must recount the faithfulness
That carried me home
I just got to spend the past three weeks in Alaska where I was able to counsel and lead worship at a Bible Camp outside the village of Unalakleet. I have been there several years and written a few songs about my experiences there. But, this year one of the camp stewards was kind enough to take my parents and I on a boat ride down the river. About halfway through the ride, I began to have part of a melody running through my head. I was sure I'd probably forget it - as there is nothing to write it down or record it with, but it stuck with me for a few days until I had a chance to work on it. A friend had also told me recently that their favorite Psalm was Psalm 42, which has the well-known words "My soul thirsts for the living God as the deer pants for water" and "Why are you downcast, oh my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in the Lord for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God." This passage has some beautiful water images in it.
Then, I began to brainstorm other passages with water references - like John 4 with the Samaritan woman at the well and Jesus tells of the living water - or Jeremiah 2 where the disobedient Israelites dig for themselves broken cisterns, which cannot hold the living water - or Revelation 22 where water flows from the throne of God and the tree of Life is on the river banks! Another staff member saw me writing and asked about it. I told him what I was up to and he said, "Don't forget Ezekiel 47! The water that flows from the temple that starts shallow but grows deeper!"
So, a song with simple imagery of a river was able to be expanded into a song about the beautiful imagery of water in the Bible. I see it as a song that gives our soul hope in the Lord, as the Psalmist asks his soul to have in Psalm 42, because we know that Christ lives and the river runs!!
The River Runs
Why are you downcast, oh my soul?
Put your hope yet in the Lord
How my soul longs for the living God
As the deer thirsts for water
I will remember Your great love
Through the night, You are my song
How my soul longs for the distant shore
Where water flows from the throne
Oh my soul, rest assured the river runs
The river rushes with rhythm in steady time
The river flows ever deeper yet still runs wide
The river laps at the banks that need its Life
Oh, the river runs
Broken cisterns and ancient wells
Could not hold the living water as it fell
Blessed are those who thirst for more
For they shall be filled to overflowing
Oh my soul, believe the river is running
It's crystal clear
As water flows again from the Lamb
And fruit appears
The tree of Life no longer hidden from man
It will bear its fruit in season
And its leaves will heal the nations
And we will see His face and thirst no more
My name is complicated. My parents named me Theresa. My friends call me "Pinky." My professional title is "Ms. Lindell." Choose one.