Steven Curtis Chapman: "My home is just a temporary dwelling place and not where I'm going to spend eternity."
Christian music's most celebrated artist Steven Curtis Chapman returns with his 18th studio album The Glorious Unfolding, available everywhere October 1. This great new album reflects my journey as a believer, as Steven's music has always been a fixture for me as I've grown in my faith as a Christian. In the 1990s when I started collecting Christian music for the first time, Steven's songs "The Great Adventure" and "I Will Be Here" were companions in my faith journey.
As a husband of 19 years to my wife Jennifer and father of three girls, I've been inspired by Steven's and Mary Beth's marriage of 29 years as well, which is celebrated in Steven's song "Together." The real key to any longevity in a relationship comes from acknowledging that Jesus has to be at the center. Losing a child ends many marriages, and I'm really encouraged by the testimony of the Chapman family that in the wake of great loss they've been rebuilding on the Rock of Christ Jesus.
I had the opportunity to interview Steven about the lead single "Love Take Me Over."
Please tell me the personal story behind the song.
This album has a sense of the joy coming back more fully into my music, and being able to feel that and express that and allow my music to feel that way and not feel that's inappropriate. These are the things you wrestle with as a songwriter, especially with what we've gone through as a family.
I was excited to sit down and write a song about what I was experiencing and see how it came out. I didn't set out to write a peppy song. When I started writing the words, the chords and the melody, it started to put a smile on my face. I feel like this is a fun song, and it has that fresh sense of excitement. I was thankful that happened organically.
Lyrically, the song had its inception in the beginning from talking with and praying with my daughters in the morning. One of the things that I do when I'm home is talk with my two youngest daughters before school and read Scripture together. Then I'll pray with them as we're driving to school. Almost every morning, I pray some variation of "let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight." That's been one of those anchor verses for us to pray in the morning.
In talking about that and praying that with them, at the time specifically what was happening is that my wife and I were doing some major renovations at our home. We lost our daughter at our home, and we weren't sure if we should stay or move. Part of the journey was that God blessed us and allowed us to make some changes to our home and make a new beginning, but not leave the property that felt like holy ground to us.
On the not so fun side of that, we had a lot of contractors around our home, and things don't always go perfectly. There's lots of opportunities for learning patience and long-suffering and all those things. I would wake up many mornings wondering who would frustrate me that day. As silly as it sounds, that daily prayer would become the reminder that my home is just a temporary dwelling place and not where I'm going to spend eternity. The situation was just so frustrating, but I needed love to take me over, with the words that I would say and how I would respond.
Which Bible verses connect with the message of the song?
Psalm 19:14 (NIV): "May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."
What's the take-away message for the song and album?
I asked my daughters to pray that prayer with me every day, to ask God for His love to take us over. It's like that Scripture about "putting on love" like clothes. We don't just hop out of bed and go about our day. We first put on our clothes. We need to put on the love of God just like putting on our clothes before our day. We need to have God's love take us over, in me, and on me. The only way I can have love on me is to recognize how loved I am. That's where the song came to be, is to recognize that the only way to love others is to know the love of God.
I can't go very far in conversation about my music or creativity without mentioning that it has been a season of heaviness and sadness for my family these past five years. As we spoke together before about "Do Everything" and with my Christmas album "Joy" from last year, there's been moments where God has done some amazing healing in our home and in our hearts in my family and that's been reflected in my music.
This new album, The Glorious Unfolding, really represented my first full album of new music where I was going to be able to share the new chapter of my life and my family and the sense that God has brought healing to our hearts. They are still broken, of course, and will be until Heaven. We still carry that weight with us. We're walking, but we're walking with a limp. We're walking in a direction towards seeing our little girl again. Now we're sensing that we're starting to jog and run and have a faster pace to our step.
There's a reminder of what we've walked through, and there's a longing that we carry with us. The message and theme of this whole album is encapsulated in the phrase "the glorious unfolding." It relates to marriages, to our children, and our relationships with people. If we understand and believe God's Word to be true, then Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God knows the plans He has for us, and we know that He is Sovereign, He is in control, and He knows what He's doing. He will complete the good work that He began in us, and working all things together for good.
Those banner Bible passages can help guide us through even the most unthinkable circumstances of losing a child. It's only by faith, and if our anchor is dropped in the promises of God's Word, then it makes all the difference in the world. God is telling a story, and it's going to be a glorious, incredible story when He brings all of the pieces together.
We need to believe that God has completed our stories. Jesus said "it is finished." He accomplished everything that we can't accomplish ourselves. Our place is to "reckon it as true." God has already determined how it's going to turn out for each of us. We need to trust in God's truth and Sovereignty and rest in His promises.
I hear the clock beep, pull me out of my sleep
Tell me there's a day ahead of me
Trying to wake up, sipping on a hot cup
With the little lady in green
And I'm praying 'bout the man I wanna be
Saying, God, please take all of me
And fill me up with Your love
Love, take these words that I'm speaking
Love, take these thoughts that I'm thinking
Love, take me over
Love, fill up all of my space and
Love, stand right here in my place
Love, hear this prayer that I'm praying
Love, take me, love, take me over
Love, take me over
This is what I'm sure of, I can only show love
When I really know how loved I am
When it overtakes me, then it animates me
Flowing from my heart into my hands
So I'm praying, Father, help my heart believe
That right now You're singing over me
And fill me up with Your love
(Take me over, take me over)
Let Your never-ending, never-failing, all-consuming love
Take over me
When Steven and I spoke together before about "Do Everything," we discussed that one of Steven's gifts as a songwriter has been his ability to weave biblical truth into his lyrics in creative and catchy ways, as in his songs "Dive," "All Things New," "Not Home Yet," and in countless other songs throughout Steven's abundant and life-giving music ministry.
My testimony is that the biblical messages behind songs in Christian music led me to Christ, for which I'm eternally grateful. My wife and I were baptized together at an outdoor baptism at a lake near our church, and we wrote out the words of "Dive" for our scrapbook capturing the beauty and the truth of those lyrics that God has made us "new creations" in Christ by accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
I love the prayerful message of this fun song. As believers, we can all benefit by praying daily for God to allow His love to "take these thoughts that I'm thinking," "hear this prayer that I'm praying," "take everything that I'm doing," "like a river flow through me," and "love, take me over." We need to put on God's love like we put on our clothing, and allow His love to shine through us.
Posted October 01, 2013 | NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.