Be Still My Soul
Josh Kaufmann, the worship director at Malibu Presbyterian (where Amy and I go to church) is an amazing musician/performer, and he recently released an album for his band “Daelsson”. It’s a collection of original songs and contemporary covers of classic worship songs and hymns. Go here to check it out http://www.daelsson.com. Although I don’t consider myself a musician, I do consider myself to be someone with pretty good taste in music. So take my word when I say that Daelsson is worth checking out. Before Amy and I got married and started attending Malibu Pres. I went to go see my buddy Ross (who was the college director there at the time) speak. Josh led worship that morning and I decided right then that he needed to perform music at our wedding. He blew me away with his passion and originality. I could tell that he was someone that did everything with intention, especially when it came to his art. So without knowing him at all, I asked Josh to come and play our wedding. Amy and I had a couple specific songs (“Great is Thy Faithfulness” and “How Deep the Father’s Love for us”) that we wanted played and Josh knocked them out of the park without much direction from either of us. We picked the specific hymns for their lyrics and the meaning behind them. Josh was able to take these old songs that we’ve all heard and revived them in a way that still gives me chills every time I watch the video of our wedding.
A couple months ago, Daelsson had an album release party where they also performed live. Amy and I weren’t able to make it. but Josh gave Amy a copy of the performance and told her that he dedicated a specific song to me (and her), saying that he felt led to do so and that hopefully it would speak to us during this rough season. The song he chose was a cover of the classic hymn “Be Still my Soul”. A song that at least, lyrically, certainly spoke to us. Here are the lyrics for the first verse…
“Be Still My Soul” Verse 1
Be still, my soul; the Lord is on your side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to your God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; your best, your heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Josh had no idea just how much the song spoke to me in other amazing and powerful ways and I wanted to share the story of my “soulful” connection (that I’ve only come to realize in recent weeks) to this classic hymn .
“THE LORD IS ON MY SIDE” By Alex Moore
“Be Still My Soul” Verse 2
Be still, my soul; your God will undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Your hope, Your confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be lit at last.
Be still, my soul; the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.
Growing up, my room was next to my dad’s study. Whether he was working on a writing project or planning a sermon, he’d always play his music loudly and it would spill over into my room. Even though the sounds of flying turtle shells and talking toadstools while I played Mario Kart on Super Nintendo usually drowned it out, I would still find myself asking him the next day what he was listening to. The one that I remember him liking the most was a compilation album (on cassette tape) by the composer Vangelis.
“Chariots of Fire” is one of my favorite films of all time (also the winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture) and Vangelis is probably best known for creating the theme song for that movie. You know how it goes. It’s the one where they’re running on the beach and the song goes”duh duhduh duh duhhh duhh. duh duhduh duh duhhh”. He also wrote the Blade Runner theme song. Both of which are classic themes for “cineastes” (film lovers) like myself. I remember that my dad had the music video that Vangelis did for the “Chariots of Fire” theme song and I was pleased to find it on Youtube. Even as a kid I thought the video was a little odd. In it, Vangelis is seen watching clips from the movie and smoking a cigarette as he plays the theme on a piano then on a synthesizer. I posted it below. You gotta watch it, it’s hilarious. Very random and very 80’s.
I remember watching “Chariots of Fire” for the first time at a youth group “lock-in” when I was a kid. Anyone from my generation that grew up Christian knows exactly what a “lock-in” (all nighter at the church) is and probably watched “Chariots of Fire” at one of them. Anyway, it got to be that time in the night when the youth leaders were hitting their walls so they threw on the movie. I sat and watched the entire film, and was very enthralled the whole time, in fact, I discovered that I was the only one watching it about midway through, when I looked around and saw that all the other kids and youth leaders were passed out (the sugar rush had failed them and this was before Red Bull and Energy drinks etc. so all you had to rely on was Mountain Dew and “Jolt” soda, neither of which could really do the trick for all nighters). After watching the film, not only did I have a new favorite movie, but I also had a new personal hero in Eric Liddell, who was one of the main characters (as well as a real person). He became the picture of conviction and passion to me that I still aspire to be like to this day. For those that may not be familiar with “Chariots of Fire”, here is the IMDB synopsis: “Chariots of Fire” is the true story of two British track athletes competing in the 1924 Summer Olympics. One, Eric Liddell, is a devout Scottish missionary who runs for God, the other is, Harold Abrahams, a Jewish student at Cambridge who runs for fame and to escape prejudice.
My favorite part of the movie is when Eric Liddell is running in one of the qualifying races for the Olympics and gets shoved by one of the other runners while they round the first corner. Not to be defeated, Mr. Liddell picks himself up and even though he is probably 20 yards behind the rest of the pack, he makes up the difference and wins the race. Liddell also had some of the most amazing dialogue ever written in a movie (in my humble opinion). There were moments where I could literally feel his words piercing my heart and they have certainly made a lasting impression. One example is when Liddell accidentally misses a church prayer meeting because of his running, his sister Jennie scolds him and accuses him of no longer caring about God. Liddell tells her that though he intends to someday return to China to carry on his mission work, he also feels divinely inspired when running, and that to him, not to run would dishonor God, he finishes the conversation by saying, “I believe that God made me for a purpose. But He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.” That line struck me so deeply when I first heard it that I still think of that scene as I wrestle with “life” about what it means to follow “the desires of my heart”. That scene also became even more profound to me recently when I found out that the doctor who was performing my second surgery was a Christian. He said to us that he always believed that he was meant for the mission field but eventually came to realize that his mission field was becoming a neurosurgeon and working hard on finding a cure for brain tumors. In my eyes, if he didn’t have the same conviction that Liddell had, then it would be hard to say where I’d be right now.
The film hinges on a decision that Liddell makes as he boards the boat to Paris for the Olympics. He learns that the heat for his 100 meter race (the race he has the best shot of winning) will be on a Sunday, then tells the Olympic committee that he is going to bow out of running the race because he feels convicted about running on the Sabbath. Liddell choosing his religious convictions over national British pride made headlines around the world but also eventually inspired his teammates and his country including his teammate Andrew Lindsay who having already won a silver medal in the hurdles proposed to yield his place in the 400 meter race on the following Thursday to an extremely grateful Liddell who ended up winning the race. Liddell delivered a sermon at a local church the following Sunday, and quoted from the famous passage of Isaiah 40, “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” This has been a verse that I’ve leaned on a lot these past 7 months.
Now you are probably wondering what any of this has to do with the song that my friend Josh dedicated to me at his album release party, wellllll…”Be Still My Soul” was reportedly the favorite hymn of the real Eric Liddell. After the olympics, he fulfilled his promise to his family and returned to doing missionary work in China, and ended up becoming imprisoned during World War II. He is said to have taught this hymn to others in the prison camp as a way to boost morale. The day that Eric Liddel died (in prison) he wrote a letter to his wife saying that he felt like he was having a nervous breakdown and collapsed later that day. Doctors later discovered that he actually died of a brain tumor. It was humbling to learn that Liddell, one of my personal heroes, suffered through the same disease I have (or did have…I should say) and how his legacy of conviction and passion lives on well after he left this world. I can only hope to leave such a legacy no matter when my time here is done (years from now…obviously).
“Be Still My Soul” Verse 3
Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.
Amy and I try not to “over spiritualize” everything, but it was impossible not to when I found myself going down the rabbit hole of connecting to this song in significant soulful ways (I think the connection to my dad being the most significant for me) and I just felt assured that I will never be alone in this. I know that I will continue to see “signs and wonders” that are too well orchestrated to just be “random coincidence” . In fact this past Saturday, Amy and I ended up at a healing prayer conference where numerous people at the conference (from completely different worlds, mind you) knew our story and had already been praying for us (many of whom we had never met). In the middle of the conference we got swarmed by everyone in attendance and got prayed for and had hands laid on us. It only confirmed to Amy and I what we have believed since shortly after the first surgery, God has a plan for all this and we would be foolish not to see that. We know for a fact that we’re not in denial or just trying to “find a way to cope” with everything…only people who aren’t on “the hope train” would think that (or maybe people who are riding on the back of a Flying Spaghetti Monster). If you’re not on that train already, we invite you to climb on board with us, our hands are reaching out to you…what do you have to lose? Having said that, we know that most of you are riding with us already.
I put together a little “mash-up” of Daelsson’s performance and my favorite scenes from “Chariots of Fire” and posted it below (they include: the opening of the film where the British Olympic team is running on the beach, the race where Liddell gets shoved and comes from behind to win, and the 400 Meter race where he wins the Gold Medal at the Olympics) as a way to remind myself that I’m loved in this time (and help me to meditate on the fact that “the Lord is on my Side”). I hope you enjoy it and please check out Daelsson for yourself and support them at http://www.daelsson.com
– Still would love prayer and good thoughts for my MRI on Wednesday Feb. 22nd at 8:20 AM…CLEAR SCAN!!!
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