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July 1994 Articles
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Issue: July 1994

Heaven In the Real World

The New Album Song by Song

The idea came from a Time magazine cover story called "The Nation that Forgot God." In the last few years, with the crime and violence just skyrocketing, all of the craziness going on in our nation and in our world, people have begun to ask where the hope is, where peace is, where the meaning and purpose in life are. Kids start blowin' each other away in elementary school. Sol wrote the song to say that there is hope and there is peace in God and respond to that article.

I have three kids: Emily is 8, Caleb is 4, Will Franklin's 3. Anytime you have three kids running around the house, it's defnitely a jungle. I left my house one very crazy morning and everything was just kind of turned upside down. And kind of along the same lines, I was thinking about how that's real indicative of our whole world right now, which is at times so out of control. It really is a jungle out there, but I fnd great hope and encouragement in knowing that the One who created the world has got it all under control and is aware of everything that's goin' on. He's the king of the jungle.

Chuck Colson said recently that we are experiencing the death of conscience in the generation of young people in America today. I didn't want to beat people over the head and make this real heavy dirge, but say in a real positive way that I'm gonna live my life with conscience and with conviction and go against the grain – that I'm gonna dance with the dinosaur, 'cause it seems like conscience is going the way of the dinosaur.

Another song that came out of experience, realizing that we can't live our lives up on a mountain and that, in fact, God usually lets us go up on the mountain to get a good view of what the valley looks like.

We can see where the pitfalls are and maybe the valley becomes a little less frightening to us. But the exciting thing is to know that I'm not gonna have to go through that valley alone, but the One who brings me up to the mountain is also gonna walk down through the valley with me.

I asked Dr. James Dobson what he saw as the biggest thing kids are dealing with and he said not feeling like their lives are worth anything and getting that reinforced everywhere they turn. So it's that whole thing of really wanting to say to everyone, but especially to kids, that you're a treasure to the One who made you, that as we go through the day, He just thinks about us and gets this big grin on his face.

That came from a fght my wife and I had. It was a song that needed to be written, whether I recorded it or not, to say to my wife again that I'm committed to love and learn with her through all this stuff that we go through. After I wrote it, I thought that probably a lot of other people need to be encouraged to hang in there and keep on going.

When Hemando Cortez took the Spanish fleet to the shores of Mexico, within a few weeks the guys started to complain about how things were getting really tough. They were talking about going back where life was more comfortable. He rallied them together and said that this mission couldn't fail.

Then he burned the ships, so they couldn't go back. He took that element right out of the picture.

On a flight from Seattle to Nashville, I noticed a guy with his hands and feet in shackles, staring out the window of the plane, maybe looking at freedom for the last time. I went back to my seat and took out a piece of paper and wrote down the words for that song just as I was thinkin' about it. And 1 thought that that's exactly where I would be without the grace of God. I needed to write about that – I don't ever want to forget what God has done in my life.

It's always a challenge to live every minute considering others over myself. That's really what communicates to the real world that there's something different about us, that we actually have a different heartbeat, that our defnition of success is different from the rest of the world. That's really my prayer for every day thatl live. I fail pretty miserably at it, but it continues to be my prayer.

Probably one of the things I have the hardest tirne with as a Christian is feeling like my prayers kinda bounce off the ceiling. In trying to work through that, I felt I needed to write a song just to remind myself and others that God is always listening. The Bible talks about how He knows when a sparrow falls out of the sky. So He defnitely hears us when one of His treasures calls out to Him in a time of need or whatever situation.

That's sort of a statement of faith for me, of why I do what I do. Like the song says, I don't want to just waste people's time trying to give 'em my opinion about things. But there are a few things that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt.

In a culture that says there are no absolutes, when we see where that leads, we need to fnally say that there is a God who put all this together and here's what He said and I believe it because it's what He says. I needed to say that with this album.

What makes God's mercy so miraculous is that He really does love us just like we are. Fortunately – thankfully – he doesn't want to leave us that way. He wants to keep working in us, changin' us and building character in us and all that stuff. But He does, in fact, love us just like we are, and His love isn't based on how well we're doing or how good our performance is.

Steven Curtis Chapman

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