"Higher Ways" by Steven Curtis Chapman (1990)
This picture to the left somehow reminded me of this once titanic song of the 90's (in the christian music sphere). There are so many songs from the era I listen to and wonder why I loved them so much, but this one in particular, stands the test of time.
I took this photo at Town Green park in Maple Grove, MN. on September 10, 2022, and the way the sun was peaking through the clouds gave me a moment of beautifully pause in what was otherwise a tumultuous moment in time.
As many of you that know me and my family know, we lost our first son after he was born back in 2008. So we were at this park as part of an annual remembrance event for families who have lost children, and this day (and event) presents some pretty heavy conflicting emotional challenges for me. In order to keep this blog short, I'll say that this is only one of the major emotionally core-shaking events of my life, and we had recently had yet another not long before this event.
What I loved most about this moment, was that in the middle of a heavy heart plagued with feelings of sadness, anger, insufficiency as a father and protector, and onion-like layers of upheaval, the sun poked through the clouds of that crisp morning, danced into my camera lens and then almost magically into my AirPods in the form of this song.
"If I could only fly, I'd go up and look down from the sky
So I could see the bigger picture.
And Lord, if I could sit with you at your feet for an hour or two,
I'm sure I'd ask too many questions,
'Cause there's so much going on down here that I must confess I just don't understand...
I don't understand."
In that moment I wanted nothing more than to fly, like the birds in this photo I took moments later in the same park, into the wild blue above, in hopes to gain some clever birds-eye perspective on the overwhelming swirl that were my mind and heart. And yet... I knew that this, of course, could not be. So instead I listened to what the Still, Small Voice would say to me through this song that played almost empathetically straight into my soul.
"Your higher ways..." the song continues;
"Teach me to trust you.
Your higher ways are not like mine.
Your higher ways are the ways of a Father, hiding his children in His love."
SCC then pens and sings the following resolution of strength and trust in the providence of a God who has brought his owns ailing heart through some hard times not too dissimilar from my own,
"So, let it rain.
And if my eyes grow dim with tears of pain,
This hope I have will not be washed away.
'Cause my soul is resting on Your higher ways."
There are so many more things I can say about this song, but let me say this...
If you are hurting, ailing, gripped with pain or fear, broken, desperate, overwhelmed, confused, or just plain unstable with the pressures, worries, cares, and concerns of life; and if you just can not make sense of it all, remember this...
His ways are not my ways. They are better and they produce better. Even when I can not see it. Even when if feels like the God who purports to love us, care for us, and design the best for us, has messed up, missed the mark and completely let us down... remember that He is our Father. He loves us so much. Enough to allow His only son to be a sacrifice for the mess we have made of our own lives. A Father who in fact can be trusted in spite of what your current, past and future circumstances might try to tell you.
Isaiah 55:7-9 - "...My thoughts are not your thoughts... and my ways are not your ways..."
In the immediate context, this is an appeal to people to exchange their sinful “thoughts” and “ways” for God’s, which are higher (nobler and more magnificent). More broadly, theologians have recognized that God, the incomparable Creator, is far above his finite creatures and beyond their ability to describe him or comprehend him fully; though they may know him truly, such knowledge is always partial and imperfect. But because God is perfectly wise in all his thoughts and ways, his people can take great comfort amid hardship and when inevitably they are unable to understand the mysteries and tragedies of life. - ESV Study Bible Notes
And, as SCC closes the refrain so beautifully...
"Someday I WILL fly.
And maybe then You will take me aside and show me the bigger picture.
But until I'm with You, I'll be here, with a heart that is true.
And a soul that's resting on Your higher ways."