Last year, around October-ish, my good friend Craig Smith asked me if I would be interested in putting on a night of Christmas music in December with him and our friend Danny Oertli. I jumped at the idea – these guys are two of my favorite people and great musicians and songwriters. Any opportunity to play with these guys is something I don’t want to miss! Plus, Christmas music? What could be better? In my excitement, I said, “Heck yes,” and in the same breath suggested each of us write a new Christmas song for the occasion. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, a little voice in my head went, What?! But I thought, These guys are super busy – what are the chances they’ll take me up on this? Well, the chances were better than I thought, because Craig emailed me a few days later. Danny loved the idea. It was on.
That’s when a little bit of panic set in. I’ve never written a Christmas song. It’s one thing writing about this or that topic, but writing about something that’s inspired hundreds if not thousands of songs, paintings, poems, you name it – that’s quite the challenge. Is there anything about Christmas that hasn’t already been said?
Instead of facing this thing head on, I procrastinated. All the way up to the weekend before our Tuesday event. On Saturday I tossed some ideas around, but they didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Sunday, same story. It dawned on me Sunday evening that Mondays are my rest days – I try to protect them as a sort of Sabbath or my the-world-doesn’t-stop-turning-when-I-stop-working-because-God-is-God-and-I-am-not day. I was beginning to stress out, but the more I prayed about taking my rest day to hammer out this song, the more I felt like God wanted me keep Monday a day of rest. So I figured either He was planning on letting a song fall from the sky and onto my page on Tuesday morning OR He was going to teach me about the consequences of procrastination. Yikes.
After honoring my rest day, I spent some incredible moments with God in Isaiah 40 and Isaiah 9 on Tuesday morning. It was one of those times with Him when the words leap off the page, like He’s speaking them right to me – just what I need to hear, when I need to hear it. My heart was full and as soon as He and I wrapped up our time together, I felt very distinctly there was a song on my heart that needed a voice.
“Our God is With Us” is special to me because of how it came about, but also because it’s full of things I need to hear. We are not alone because we have this hope: our God IS with us.