Story Behind The Song, Unreleased Vol. 2: Wherever We Go

This was probably my favorite song that didn’t make it on the new record. And since there’s still no definite news about the record, I thought I’d tell you about this song instead. It’s really continuing the journey of On A Corner In Memphis. In fact, the alley that I picture in my brain is one in Memphis. So basically it’s addressing the idea that God’s truth can come from anywhere. The other day I was reading about Balaam and his donkey. You can read it yourself in Numbers 22 (and end up like I always do reciting, “Balaam, he had a donkey, who was gentle and true and kind.” Free copy of NEED to whoever can identify that quote first.) In the story, Balaam is saved from God’s wrath by a talking donkey, and not the one from Shrek. But God doesn’t just use donkeys. He uses all of us. Not just those who have been to seminary. Now that doesn’t mean seminary isn’t important or valuable. It just means that someone who hasn’t been to college has just as valid a relationship with God. The homeless man has just as valid opinion on who God is to him as I do. Therefore, I can learn about God from anyone who knows him. ANYONE. And I ignore other people’s opinions about God to my peril. So I told this story through a song. But it didn’t make the record. But you can read it here, and probably hear it live sometime.

Wherever We Go

I got lost downtown last Saturday
A dark alley on a stormy night
A man dropped down from a fire escape
And I nearly died with fright
He said, “I’m sorry, sir, There’a nothing to fear.
There’s no one left but the broken here
But you’re welcome to stay.
It’s out of the rain.”

And he said,
“I don’t know you or where you’ve been.
I don’t know where you think you’re going to, but
All I know is I found Jesus can reach us
Wherever we go. Wherever we go.”

He told me stories I had long forgotten
From when I was a child
About Daniel in a lions’ den
And his three friends in the fire
He said, “You’ll find God on the streets of Sodom
And at heaven’s pearly gates,
But tonight He’s downtown,
Around this fire of the broken-down.”

He said,
“”I don’t know you or where you’ve been.
I don’t know where you think you’re going to, but
All I know is I found Jesus can reach us
Wherever we go. Wherever we go.”

And I said, “Who are you to lecture me
On life and God above?”
He said, “Once I was just like you,
But lost everything I loved.
My family, my job, my home, my life it came unwound.
But he never let me go; He never let me down.”

He said,
“I don’t know you or where you’ve been.
I don’t know where you think you’re going to, but
All I know is I found Jesus can reach us
Wherever we go. Wherever we go.”

c.2011 Ardent/Koala Music All rights reserved.

Getting Low

My wife and I went to see a new movie the other night called Get Low. Robert Duvall plays a hermit who everyone in town knows about and tells stories about, but no one really knows. Everyone is scared of him and most think he is just short of evil. But nobody actually knows him. Until he throws a funeral party. While he’s still alive. Originally he wants to hear everyone’s stories about him, but eventually he decides to tell one of his own.

I’m also reading “In The Sanctuary of Outcasts” by …, which is about a man who goes to a prison which is also a federal medical center where people with Hansen’s disease are quarantined. Hansen’s disease is what used to be known as leprosy. He is so judgmental towards them when he arrives. He avoids them, thinking that he and his family can survive a year of prison but not a lifetime of illness if he gets sick. Throughout the book, he begins to get to know them as individuals, as people, rather than defining them by their disease.

So between the two, I’ve really had my attention focused on the story behind what’s obvious. Each person we look at we try to put in a box quickly, grouping them with other people we’ve known like them. We define them by their looks, their color, their interests, their talents, their job, their denomination, their beliefs, their place in life. But rarely do we take the time to see the whole story of who they are. We live at too fast a pace to hear someone’s whole story.

My wife has an amazing gift of drawing out people’s stories. People just talk to her. I don’t have that gift. But I’m learning. I’m starting to recognize that the hateful person with the vicious tongue has a story in which they’ve been hurt deeply and it’s much safer for them to strike first. I’m realizing that there are deeper, more important questions about the homeless beggar on the corner other than whether or not he’s going to spend the money I give him on alcohol. He has a story, a life. I’m seeing that the 85-year-old lady next door has more stories than I could possibly imagine and has lived long enough that now she has no one to tell them to.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV)

I hope I can start looking on the heart. I pray you can too.