Carrie Newcomer is gifted singer/songwriter/guitarist from Indiana. Her music style is more or less folk, and her Quaker roots can be heard in many of her songs. One of my favorite Carrie Newcomer songs is “Stones in the River.” Here’s the first verse:
There’s a crack in the glass where the water gets out.
There’s a dusty wind when the heart’s in drought.
And the map of the world looks as if true north,
I can live divided or bent
Conspire in my own diminishment
Or believe in the better world I’ve dreamt
That grows from inside out.
Most all of us have those times when life seems like a cracked glass that’s slowly leaking out all of our strength, perspective and vision. Such times can also take on the character of a drought-ridden Oklahoma summer and be emotionally and spiritually dry and barren times for us. At times like those it is easy to feel we have been abandoned and left with no sense of direction or purpose.
Such times can be giving up times for us. We feel broken, empty, purposeless, and unable to see any hope for the present, much less for the future. Seeing no hope for now or for later, it is almost natural that we settle for a defeated and diminished lifestyle.
However, we usually have the ability to choose a different way of going about daily life. Rather than living a diminishing life, we can live an enriching life. We can discover again or for the first time that true north direction and purpose for our life, and leave behind that divided, bent and diminished life that we thought was our only option. As Carrie’s song suggests, we can choose to settle for a diminished and hopeless life, or we can dream again or for the first time, that dream or purpose that God has planted within us.
But as our song suggests, this is an inside job—it grows from the inside out. Circumstances need not determine our spiritual and emotional health. Our dreams, our purposes, our satisfaction and contentment flow from the inside out rather than from the outside in. Certainly there are situations and circumstances that bring us joy, peace, hope, pleasure or satisfaction. But joy, peace, hope, pleasure or satisfaction that comes from within are the products of our relationship with God. It is a relationship we must nurture daily so that we do not give up our hope, our life purpose, and fall prey to discouragement and despair. Giving up places are tempting parking places for our lives, but we are wise to stay connected to the One who gives us purpose, direction, hope, peace and joy.