Steven Curtis Chapman is the most prolific singer/songwriter in the history of contemporary Christian music. He has won five Grammys, 58 Dove Awards, and has sold more than 10 million albums. In May 2008, Chapman lost his daughter, Maria Sue, in a tragic accident in the driveway of their home. She was five years old. One of Chapman’s sons was driving the car that struck little Maria. I’m not going to make an attempt at emotion here. But there is a reason I’ve been reminded of that devastating event.
I was co-hosting a radio show recently with my good friend and programming director, Tommy Dylan of “Tommy & Brook In The Morning” WJQ99 FM in Holland/Zeeland. Brook was on vacation. Chapman, I’ll refer to him as SCC, is coming in concert to Grand Rapids this fall, so Tommy and I talked off the air a bit about some of Chapmans older music. When I got home, I put on some of those songs and relived seeing SCC live in the early and mid-1990’s.
It was then that I was reminded of the Chapman’s loss. I remembered how he and his wife, Mary Beth, clung to the hope in God’s grace and mercy. That their family would, could, survive the bottomless depth of grief they were experiencing.
When my dad was dying four months ago in the hospital, my mom, Wendy, my siblings and I had prepared for the worst. Plans A, B, and C were already measured. We knew there would likely be some curves, but with us all on the same team, it helped give all of us just a bit of peace when we made the decision to turn off life support. That was my dad’s wish under those circumstances. We had trained. Not a lot. But enough to keep us all together. We communicated. Practiced a bit. Prepared some. It sounds horrible but it’s training. And it’s real. And it will help you stay sane.
I also looked up some of Chapman’s interviews about their story. It made me think of you. I want to talk to you about training. I wonder what you are training yourself for. Have you trained for getting a flat car tire? Have you done any training for if you lost your job? For meeting the family if you got separated at the mall or during a fire at your home? Could you be in training right now for a cataclysmic happening like the Chapmans have endured? I know some of you reading this have lost loved ones in crushing ways. Ways I cannot imagine. I’ve watched some of you go through it. Listening to Chapman tell his story. It’s been part of my training. I’m not gonna go deeper than that except to recognize some things about Mary Beth and SCC.
My hope is you’ll listen to one or more of the Chapman’s interviews. He’ll explain his training. They are a great family and have a very deep and abiding faith in Jesus Christ. If that makes you feel uncomfortable, Steven Curtis Chapman will put you at ease. He is my Fred Rogers of the Christian music world. I hope you’ll listen because I believe it can be part of all our training.
When really bad things happen, where is the hope? When life pulls the rug out from under you, who catches you? Listening to Chapmans interviews and the songs from his newest albums is good training. It’s okay to talk about it. Pay close attention to his conversations with God.
So have the talks, it’s okay. Don’t be afraid, remember, “Fear Is A Liar.” Listen to Chapman’s music together. Read the lyrics or watch an interview. Watch with your family and children. It’s okay. It’s training.
So many of us have no training and we’re looking the other way. Some of you have had more than your share of training. My heart felt sad when I wrote that just then. I’m so sorry. Very sorry.
I tried not to make too much of an attempt at emotion here. I wanted you to know there is a reason that Tommy Dylan planted those Steven Curtis Chapman songs in my head. So we could pass all of this on to you. For your training. And then you can help someone who’s had no training.
Chapman’s whole story…and it’s good!