My husband likes to tease me about being a Steven Curtis Chapman fan and it is true that I am. The reason for my appreciation, however, is only in part related to his music. As much as I like many of his songs, my utmost respect is for the faithful life he has lived in a very public spotlight. I often encourage my kids to consider that a song may sound great, but if the artist behind it doesn't practice what he or she preaches then the words do not carry much weight. In the case of the Chapman family, a very heavy weight was entrusted to them with the tragic death of their young daughter nearly ten years ago. Pushed onto a platform of exposed sorrow before the eyes of the whole world, they did not hide their questions and grief yet remained steadfast in their confidence in a loving God.
Last year I read Steven's autobiographical book entitled Between Heaven and the Real World. It was well worth the time and impressed me again with his humility and transparency. This is not someone who claims to have it all together, but who clings to the Father who does. A subject I found especially encouraging was his description of challenges he and his wife Mary Beth have faced in their marriage and how God has sustained their commitment to one another. Too often well-meaning Christian couples always wear their "game faces" in public. By presenting a perfect facade to a watching world, they inadvertently discourage others who struggle and feel they'll never measure up to an impossible standard.
It goes with saying that another huge area of connection and appreciation for Steven and Mary Beth Chapman's ministry is adoption. With humor they share the story of how it took their eleven-year old daughter nudging and "guilting" them over a period of time to even consider adoption. Then one adoption turned into two, and finally three! Through this God made them aware of how many Christian families desire to adopt but are held back by financial constraints. They founded Show Hope, an organization that accomplishes two major purposes: providing financial grants to adopting families, and funding care centers in China for children with acute medical and special needs. In addition, they provide adoption support through conferences and resources to strengthen families along their journey. They also coordinate student trips to China in an effort to challenge the next generation with God's call to care for orphans. All of this is personal to us because God used a Show Hope grant in a very significant way to bring our sons home from Haiti.
Last weekend, my oldest sister surprised me with tickets to the sold-out "SCC Solo" concert in Manheim, Pennsylvania. What an amazing gift! I had the privilege of taking my mom, who had never attended a Steven Curtis Chapman concert but knew some of his story and especially how the Shop Hope ministry blessed our family. Listening to him in person I was impressed again with his humble recognition that his ministry and platform has been God-given for a greater purpose such as proclaiming God's heart for orphans. Over 6,000 children have now come home with the help of Show Hope grants! I couldn't help but compare this concert to two previous ones I attended, each about ten years earlier than the other. The fans have changed, grown older and calmer but I'd like to believe, more deeply rooted in truth and commitment.
My most lasting impression of the concert was Steven's new song entitled "Remember to Remember." The lyrics are meaningful and I've abbreviated them to share here. (I also found a video someone recorded at another recent concert.)
I've been looking back over my shoulder
Retracing every step, trying to unforget
And I see the mountains I journeyed over
And I see the valleys deep where I crawled on my hands and knees
Pages of memories, filled with joy and stained with tears
They call to me and if I listen I can hear them saying:
Remember the way He led us up to the top of the highest mountain
Remember the way He carried us through the deepest dark
Remember His promises for every step on the road ahead
Look where you've been and where you're going
And remember to remember
And now I'm looking at the road that's waiting
But my eyes can only see so far up ahead of me
As sure as the sun will shine, there will be more mountains I will climb
More deep dark shadowlands where desperate faith is all I'll have
Until I'm Home I'm resting on my hope and trust
In the One and Only God whose name is God With Us
This was such an important reminder for me because so often in the busyness of life I forget to trace God's faithful hand in our family's story. Yet as I look back I see how time and again He has answered our cries, supplied our needs, poured out His blessings over and above what we could ever deserve. I do not know why He has been so good to us.
But I, too, need to "remember to remember!"