Youtube comments are just about the dregs of the internet. As a general rule I say it’s best to avoid them altogether. And yet it was some Youtube comments that God spoke to me through this past week. Hard to believe.
Years ago, in what feels like another life, I was a song writer. I’ve written a pretty sizable stack of songs and actually had a handful of them see the light of day.
One song, by far, has surprised me over and over again with its sticking power. It’s a simple worship chorus, named “Just For Today.” (Though it’s quite possible you may know it as “Father God.”
I wrote it in 1994 (I think…) I was a college student, studying theology and up to my ears in youth ministry. That particular week I was doing a gig at a Christian boarding school in Boise, Idaho called Gem State Academy. I was there for a spiritual emphasis week as the guest speaker and worship leader.
One afternoon, while I had some time to myself, I snuck into their auditorium to plunk away on the incredible grand piano they had on stage. While I was sitting there in the dark, playing that beautiful instrument, this song just came out. That never happened to me, before or since. The whole song emerged–lyrics, melody, the whole thing. I just captured it.
That week I taught it to the students there for the first time. It’s a simple song. On certain days when I was aspiring to be a “real musician,” it was almost embarrassingly simple. 4 chords. A simple, memorable chorus. A predictable melody line that sounds like a crowd of other songs.
Yet it felt powerful to me. It was my prayer, the way I wanted my prayer to be every day, especially on the days when I didn’t have it in me to pray. I had the chance to teach it in a few other places – a couple of summer camps, a few more schools, at college, and later at the churches where I worked.
I never toured as a musician playing for thousands of people. Only a thousand CDs were made and most sold. And somehow, this little song has made its way around the world. That still blows my mind.
From time to time, I’ve had folks ask if there was a version of “Just For Today” on Youtube. I never really knew that people use Youtube to find music to listen to. It just never would have occurred to me. (See, video and music are different things, and Youtube is a video site… never mind.)
So, my answer was always, “No.”
Then I heard that there were a couple of videos that other people had put up, but the quality wasn’t that great. So, I finally got my act together and asked a friend (Makenzie Loveridge) to whip up a video slideshow for me that I could post, with the original high-quality recording.
God Speaks Through Youtube Comments?
Back to the Youtube comments. I was having a really rough day. I’d inadvertently hurt someone I care for pretty badly. A number of endeavors in my life didn’t seem to be working. On top of that, I had a general and deep feeling of sadness. The past 6 months have been one of the toughest times in my life–painful and stressful in the extreme.
One of the areas of brokenness I wrestle with is a need to perform well. It’s really about belonging. If I do something worthwhile, I’ll earn my seat at the table. If I fail, maybe I’ll lose my seat. Now, I know this isn’t true. But I’m working to get that understanding to take root in my heart.
This past six months has felt like a failure in so many ways and this has taken an enormous toll on my heart. It’s been (and continues to be) a deep time of learning and growing as I wrestle through a lot of junk.
As I took the video Makenzie made for me and posted it, I thought I ought to search for the other videos and link them to mine, so that if people wanted to hear the “official” recording they could. I’d been told right. There were half-a-dozen videos of the song. None of them were very good quality. Handicam stuff. One of them seemed to be the video from a camera sitting on the floor under a folding chair, while voices from people you couldn’t see sang.
But there below the videos were comments.
- “I really love this song!..this is our theme song in the week of Prayer 🙂 it always reminded me that GOD is ALWAYS there for us.. if we call upon HIS name!”
- “I learned this song in a Bible camp too in Szolnok (Hungary) from Richi Bacsi I love this song very much!”
- “I learned this song in a bible camp in Yellowstone, Montana”
- “This is my fav church song ever!”
I was taken by surprise. Such kind words. It was cool to hear that this little song I’d made so long ago was meaningful to people. Then I came across this comment, from someone named Emily Stinnett: “This the first song I sang at camp and it changed my life forever.” It changed my life forever. Wow.
I sat in stunned silence for a moment. I was feeling like a failure, and here someone I didn’t know, probably would never meet, was saying their lives had been impacted by this little song. By me. By God through me.
I was humbled and grateful. I was reminded of the priorities that matter. I was even drawn back to the lyrics of my own song and reminded why this simple prayer is so important.
Father God, just for today / help me walk Your narrow way. / Help me stand when I could fall. / Lend me the strength to hear Your call. / May my steps be worship / May my thoughts be praise. / May my words bring honor to Your name. / May my steps be worship / May my thoughts be praise. / May my words bring honor to Your name.
Here I am, just for today / Live in me, have Your way. / For my desire, when this race is run / is only to hear You say “Well Done.” / May my steps be worship / May my thoughts be praise. / May my words bring honor to Your name. / May my steps be worship / May my thoughts be praise. / May my words bring honor to Your name.[note Marc Alan Schelske, “Just For Today,” © 2004 Marc Alan Schelske, All Rights Reserved.]
This life isn’t about me. It’s not about what I create or accomplish. My value isn’t dependent on my performance. And sometimes, like this once, I get a tiny window into the possibility that God can do big things in and around me that I’m not even aware of.
And Emily, thank you for your words. And if you’re interested, here’s the video Makenzie made. I’d love to hear your comments.