Behind the writing of “Red Sea Road”
Ann Voskamp’s blog: http://annvoskamp.com/2015/05/how-you-can-keep-on-hoping-for-what-seems-impossible/
FEBRUARY 6, 2017
RED SEA ROAD
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
– Exodus 14:14
I’m not sure what the past two years have been like for you and your community, but the past two years for our community have been heartbreaking. Red Sea Road is one of those songs that I had to write because I needed to sing what was true. I remember sitting down with my dear friends and co-writers, Christa Wells and Nicole Witt. I cried my way through catching them up on the year, and the tears were for the pain and the struggle and the loss we were walking through with several dear friends, but they were also for the way I kept being surprised by God’s faithfulness to draw near to our breaking hearts and make a way for us to carry on, even when the grief and the pain felt unbearable.
I told Christa and Nicole about our friends who carried to full term a precious baby boy they knew would have a very small chance of living due to a rare genetic disorder. I told them about how our friends never got to bring Blake home from the hospital because they lost him the day after he was born. I told Christa and Nicole about another precious family, who had been struggling through infertility for two years when they were asked to consider a private adoption. They were moving forward in that process, thinking that this might be God’s way of bringing healing to the pain of infertility, when the birth mother tragically lost the boy they were going to adopt at 29 weeks, before they ever got to hold little Judah in their arms.
As this friend packed up a box of gifts that people had given them for the baby they never got to hold, it felt to her like packing up a box of broken dreams. She was about to put a little pair of shoes that a friend had given her as they were walking through infertility on top of everything else she had already put away. The shoes had a note attached to them that said this: “A faith statement to remember you have a team of support behind you. Sometimes it takes a village to see a dream fulfilled. “ As she laid those shoes on top of the other things in that box of broken dreams, she felt like God spoke to her:
“I didn’t tell you to pack away your hope.”
She took a deep breath, and with tears streaming down her face, she lifted those little shoes out of a box of shattered dreams. Because in the wake of all the grief, God was gently reminding her that Hope doesn’t belong in boxes. Hope rises up from an empty grave. Hope helps us stare into the face of everything we’ve lost and every pain we’ve endured and every pain we’ve caused, and it says, “There’s more than this. Healing is ahead.”
Christa and Nicole listened. Tears streamed down their faces. I didn’t have answers and I couldn’t make the pain go away, but I did feel confronted with a choice that night. I could choose to despair, or I could choose to hold onto hope. I was seeing God draw near to our breaking hearts, but everything was so broken and sad, and the grief was overwhelming. I needed to write a song that would help me choose hope, a song that would help me choose to believe that “healing is ahead”.
When the Israelites had an army behind them and the ocean in front of them, an impossible situation, God says this through Moses in Exodus 14:14 , “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” And He opens up the Red Sea, making a way where there is no way. I don’t know about you, but if I am there with the Israelites, I’m thinking, “Imminent death is behind me and I’m definitely going to die if I stay here, but trusting God and walking through the middle of an ocean seems terrifying & may kill me as well.” It is so scary and so hard to take God at His word some days, especially when you feel that grief will crash over you like the waves of an ocean and swallow you whole. So we wrote this song to remind our souls that God is with us. He is faithful. He goes before us. He goes behind us. He fights for us, and we can trust that He will bring us through even the most unbearable moments because He is in the business of making a way when there is no way.
Christa was the one who mentioned this beautiful blog post by one of our friends and favorite authors, Ann Voskamp. We read through that post together and marveled at the beautiful story Ann was telling about God making a way. She said it like this, “…we believe that an unseen Hope makes a Red Sea Road when there seems to be no way.” That is exactly what I was seeing God do for me, and for our community, so we wrote Red Sea Road to remind ourselves that we have good reason to hope. We left Ann a Voxer message. We sang the chorus of the song , and explained that her words had helped inspire us, and she immediately sent a message back. She was crying and thanking God. She told us that the words of the song were exactly what she and her husband needed to hear on the journey they were facing.
We will sing to our souls
We won’t bury our hope
Where He leads us to go, there’s a Red Sea Road
When we can’t see the way, He will part the waves
And we’ll never walk alone down a Red Sea Road
One day, I believe Ann will tell their Red Sea Road story, but suffice it to say for now that I have watched God make a way for me, for our community, and for many others through some seriously difficult circumstances. I wish I had time here to tell you all of the stories, and I hope you’ll take time to tell me your Red Sea Road stories of how God has shown up in the middle of your most broken and desperate places. My prayer for this song is that it might help give you eyes to see Him making a way for you to hope, to sing, to carry on, even when the way ahead seems daunting. I don’t know when the suffering will end, but I do know that God is with you in the middle of it all, and that there will be healing and restoration one day, whether it’s this side of glory or the next. I don’t have all the answers for you, but I do know that singing to my soul and holding onto hope have been like a healing balm for the ache, and I’m so grateful that we don’t have to bury our hope because he was already buried for us, and Hope himself walked out of the grave.