Life can be difficult. But does God care?
Don Moen has learned to lean on God’s promises in good times as well as bad and he says, “You can still trust Him.”
“A person would need to look a long time to find a purer heart and voice than those of Don Moen.” —Max Lucado
In his new memoir featuring snapshots from his life and career, Don shares heartfelt stories of gentle comfort for people looking for answers. Don asserts, that God has not forgotten us even when…
- We face a job loss
- We go through an unexpected divorce
- We receive a bad report from the doctor
- We face the death of a loved one
As a beloved songwriter and worship leader, Don Moen is the author of classic songs like “Thank you, Lord” and “God Will Make a Way”— the inspiration for this book. He knows what it means to feel anxious, worried, and down. And he knows what it means to persevere and see a new day.
If you enjoy the encouraging style of Max Lucado, and if you find comfort in the books of Gary Chapman, then you will love reading God Will Make a Way, a new release from Thomas Nelson.
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About the Author
A pioneer of the modern Praise and Worship movement, Don Moen has spent his career as a worship leader, producer, songwriter, and music executive. While a student at Oral Roberts University in the early 70s, Moen began touring with the musical group Living Sound and evangelist Terry Law. By 1986, Moen had recorded "Give Thanks" for the Hosanna Music! praise and worship series at Integrity Music, where he would serve as creative director, executive producer, and eventually, president of the label. During his tenure there, he sold more than 5 million units and signed worship leaders and songwriters, such as Paul Baloche, Ron Kenoly, Darlene Zschech, and many more. Today Moen lives in Nashville, TN, with his wife, Laura, where he is president of Don Moen Productions and oversees his international nonprofit ministry, Worship in Action.
Read an Excerpt
THROUGH THE STORM
Late one night our phone rang. One of those calls that is unexpected enough that the likely chance of bad news flashes across your mind. I answered to hear the voice of my mother-in-law and immediately knew something was very wrong.
My wife's sister and her family had been traveling from Oklahoma to Colorado for a ski vacation. On a lonely stretch of highway at an intersection, their van was broadsided by an eighteen-wheeler. Three of Susan and Craig Phelps's sons were seriously injured. But when Craig got to Jeremy, their oldest, he quickly realized his body was already lifeless.
In a heartbeat, their beloved firstborn was taken from them.
Literally within seconds, a happy, close-knit family on their way to a week of fun and relaxation in the mountains was thrown into a sea of suffering and life would never be the same again.
You can never be prepared for those moments. They suck the life out of you like a sudden punch to the gut and it can take years to feel like you can even breathe again. Every day becomes an effort to not drown in your own sorrow.
My immediate response upon hearing the news was to want to do something — anything. But in all my days, I had never felt so helpless. Our dearly loved family members were alone, hundreds of miles away in another state, suddenly thrust into and enduring an agony beyond anything we could imagine.
All the scriptures I knew about hurt and loss flew up from my heart into my mind, but they all somehow seemed to fall short of what I really wanted to convey to Susan and Craig. Even for committed Christians, very true and well-intended Bible verses quoted at a misguided time can end up feeling like religious daggers to the heart, like standards that in the darkest of moments we can't possibly meet. Our pain is just too present.
The truth was I didn't know what to say. The reality was I didn't have any answers to give. I had to face the fact that I couldn't, no matter how badly I wanted to, ease their aching hearts. There was no possible human way to fix this.
Roadways and Rivers
The next day while on the plane, I kept asking God to give me a word of encouragement for the family. I opened my Bible and began reading from Isaiah 43:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
As I read further in the chapter, verses 18 and 19 jumped off the page and grabbed me by the heart.
"Do not call to mind the former things,
Wilderness and desert were exactly the right descriptors for this horrible place into which our family had been thrown without warning. But God was saying He would meet us there, that He is the God of the wilderness and the desert as much as God of the road and the river.
Traveling at thirty thousand feet between heaven and earth, I eased back in my seat, closed my eyes, and began to intercede for Susan, Craig, and their three boys in the hospital, whispering words I will never forget: "Lord, please make a road in the wilderness and create rivers in the desert for this family today." I knew they were all trapped in a rising flood of grief, pain, and the horrible what-ifs overwhelming them, as well as walking through a fire that seemed to be all-consuming.
As I kept praying those words from Isaiah over and over on their behalf, a simple melody and lyric began to rise up from my spirit, and as was my usual response, I began to sketch the words and notes out on a legal pad as quickly as they were given to me.
By a roadway in the wilderness, He'll lead me Rivers in the desert will I see Heaven and earth will fade but His Word will still remain He will do something new today God will make a way where there seems to be no way He works in ways we cannot see He will make a way for me He will be my guide, hold me closely to His side With love and strength for each new day He will make a way He will make a way
Looking at the words on the pad, I knew God had given me this song to share with Craig and Susan, not for an audience of thousands but for just two, flowing out from the words of His timeless prophet, hope spoken into a hopeless situation, encouragement delivered into the fury of fear. I sensed God wanted me to let them know that in spite of all the horrible hurt, He had not forgotten them. And even in their darkest hour He was hard at work on their behalf in ways they could not yet see but soon would.
I knew there would be days when Craig and Susan would feel lonely and overwhelmed by the loss of their beautiful eight-yearold boy, especially after the funeral when everyone went home, got back to their lives, and left them alone with their grief. I wanted to give them something to hold on to, a hope of a brighter day, a song to remind them of God's faithfulness.
Although "God Will Make a Way" was written for a desperate situation, I have never thought it to be a song of desperation but one of declaration. The lyrics do not present a question, "Can God make a way?" but rather a statement, "God will make a way." If He is God, then He has a way, in fact, the way.
Yesterday, Today, and Forever
Have you experienced the sudden or tragic death of a loved one?
Are you going through a divorce? Or starting down the painful road toward one?
Have you or someone you loved received bad news from a doctor?
Have you lost a job or been thrown out of your career?
Are you entertaining suicidal thoughts you thought you'd never have?
Are you experiencing feelings of betrayal? Loneliness? Bitterness? Anxiety? Depression?
Are you worried and stressed out?
Maybe you have suffered at the hands of someone else through an injustice? Or by your own hand through addiction or self-sabotage of some kind?
If your answer to any or many of these questions is yes, even though you may feel that God has forsaken you and forgotten you, I want to remind you, or tell you for the very first time, that He has not. He has not, friend. Here is your new truth, your reality, and some good news:
"And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed." (Deuteronomy 31:8)
This is not a promise by some random deity but by the One who says He formed the world and your being as your Creator, who fashioned you in your mother's womb as Psalm 139 clearly states.
Isaiah 49:16 tells us that God has inscribed you on the palms of His hands. That is exactly why I believe that even at this moment, He is working in ways you cannot see to bring you hope and healing. I know He did for my family members, the Phelps. He has for our family of seven many, many times.
He knows where you've been because He is the God of the past.
He knows right where you are today and what you are feeling because He is the God of the present.
He knows what tomorrow holds because He is the God of the future.
For all these reasons, you can trust Him, whether you never have before, you did once upon a time but then quit, or you just need a fresh reminder.
Years ago I was sitting in the pastor's study of a little church just outside of Dallas, Texas. I had been invited there to sing on a Sunday morning and was having a few quiet moments alone waiting for the service to start. My eyes were drawn to a picture the minister had on his wall. The painting was of an old wooden sailing ship being tossed about on a stormy sea. The inscription at the bottom read:
Those who go down to the sea in ships,
I was immediately taken with and intrigued by the painting connected to the words of this powerful passage. Although I had read this psalm over the years on countless occasions, it was as if I was seeing the Scripture for the first time. The artist's rendering coupled with the psalmist's words created art for my soul.
What did the writer mean to "go down to the sea in ships" and "do business on great waters"? The sentence sounded at first like an amazing adventure to me. I not only wanted to see "the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep," but I wanted to experience them personally. Not just by hearing the stories of someone else's journey but by knowing firsthand what life would be like on the deck of that great vessel.
From that experience, Psalm 107:23–24 became one of my favorite passages in God's Word. But I didn't realize in the moment that for me to fully understand the deep meaning, I was also going to have to experience the verses that followed. To experience life on that ship, I also had to be placed on the stormy sea.
For He commands and raises the stormy wind,
The social media summary reads like this: "To see the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep, you are going to encounter major storms."
The artist who created the painting did not depict the ship sailing gently through the water on a tranquil sunlit day. No, the ship was sailing on dangerous waves backdropped against a brutal sky.
Isn't it fascinating that we pray daily for only the peaceful, blue-sky days in our lives while the stormy seasons are where growth and maturity await us?
Psalm 107 reminds us that in life there are three types of people:
Those about to go into a storm
Those in the middle of a storm
Those who have just come out of a storm
Right now, each of us falls into one of these categories. Because of this universal truth, we must constantly remind ourselves that when we go through a crisis, it does not mean that God has abandoned us. Notice in verse 25, it wasn't the devil who caused this storm but the Lord. "For He [God] commands and raises the stormy wind."
So often when we go through trials we assume that (1) God is angry with us because we've made a wrong decision and are suffering consequences, or that (2) God has abandoned us and we are being attacked. We ask God, "What did I do wrong? Where did I miss You?"
Often He answers those questions with, "Nothing. You didn't."
A decision to follow Christ certainly doesn't come with a guarantee that everything will always go our way and we will have smooth sailing on a peaceful sea throughout our lives. While this might seem wonderful, it is wrong thinking and quite simply unrealistic. In fact, walking closely with Jesus in this culture creates more storms!
Christ said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33 niv). We cannot miss that while Jesus did promise His peace, He firmly stated we would have trouble as well. In fact, without trouble how would we be able to know we are experiencing His peace? Promises like these in Scripture are not that we will live our lives storm-free, but rather what God will do in and following our troubling times.
God will always use what we've been through, as well as what we're going through, to cause all things to work out for our good. Author and pastor Max Lucado paraphrased Genesis 50:20: "In God's hands, intended evil becomes eventual good." In talking about the life of Joseph, Lucado said:
Nothing in the Old Testament story glosses over the presence of evil. Bloodstains, tearstains are everywhere. Joseph's heart was rubbed raw against the rocks of disloyalty and miscarried justice. Yet time and time again God redeemed the pain. The torn robe became a royal one. The pit became a palace. The broken family grew old together. The very acts intended to destroy God's servant turned out to strengthen him. "You meant evil against me," Joseph told his brothers, using a Hebrew verb that means to weave. You wove evil, he was saying, but God rewove it together for good. God, the Master Weaver. He stretches the yarn, intertwines the colors. Nothing escapes His reach.
Sometimes the Lord directs us right into the middle of a tempest. Think how often in the Gospels that Jesus, always following God's will perfectly, encountered all manner of conflicts and confrontations. Rarely did He instigate them; mostly they found Him! In John 7:1, we read that the Pharisees "were looking for a way to kill him" (niv).
When Jesus got into a boat with His disciples and said, "Let us go over to the other side," He knew full well that they were going to encounter a storm. So He decided that was a great time to take a nap. As the sky grew dark and the waves crashed against the small boat, in a panic the disciples woke Jesus up. They asked Him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" There's nothing quite like a little manipulation with a touch of guilt from your friends, right? Christ got up and said just three words, "Peace, be still." Immediately, the skies opened up, the wind died down, and the water became calm. Case closed (Mark 4:35–39).
* * *
In the storm you are going through right now, have you found yourself demanding, "God, don't You care what I'm going through?" just as the disciples did? Or even if you won't allow yourself to acknowledge His existence, are you blaming your troubles on an unknown outside force somewhere out there? What if instead of panic or anger or pride, you humbly invited Jesus to speak to your storm and say, "Peace, be still"?
After all, the real question is not if He can calm your storm but if you will invite Him into your boat.
Even when God does intervene on our behalf, we can often become cynical and questioning because we wonder what took Him so long. But the majority of the time, the real hold-up was we simply would allow no room for Him to work until life became desperate. I've heard it said that "to stay in God's will, we must stay out of His way." There is so much we blame God for that is just our own stubbornness blocking the road to our deliverance.
Do you suppose the disciples had a better understanding of Christ and their own faith after that encounter on the water? Though frightening and difficult to go through, storms offer opportunities for transformation. They can change us and make us stronger. That's God's purpose for them. As a loving Father, He's not out to just rock our boats. He has a grand plan for something transformative to happen when people are "at their wits' end" and "cry out to the Lord in their trouble" (Ps. 107:27–28). When we finally admit to God, "I've run out of answers, I don't know where to turn, I'm at the end of my rope, my resources are depleted, and everything I've tried has failed," He steps into our storm with His peace.
You Have Been Honored Following Jeremy's funeral, I had the privilege of sitting at the piano and sharing "God Will Make a Way" with Craig and Susan. This was a very private and providential moment for us all. Just as we had so desperately prayed, God brought us His peace in our storm as only He can give through His Comforter.
As would be expected, for many months Craig and Susan struggled with the pain of Jeremy's passing and asked the very human questions, "Why, God? Why us? Why him?" They were literally living through Psalm 107 in their suffering and grief, "staggering around like a drunken man." But God heard their cries. He gave grace as they questioned Him. With time He calmed the storm, and the waves in their sea began to be still. As they looked to the Lord for His strength and support, the Phelps could "see the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep."
Through the years, Craig and Susan have had many opportunities to share their story with others, turning their heartbreak into help for other families, offering encouragement to those who have lost hope after going through the tragic death of a loved one. As they have shared with thousands of people all over the world how God made a way for them, they truly believe Jeremy has reached more people through his death than he ever might have through his life. What a very difficult yet powerful statement for loving parents to make. But their perspective is not of this world, but of the heavenly kingdom in which they and their son reside.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "God Will Make a Way"
Copyright © 2018 Don Moen.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword Manny Pacquiao xi
Introduction: A Personal Note to the Weary and the Leary xiii
Chapter 1 Through the Storm 1
Chapter 2 Through Our Surrender 15
Chapter 3 Through His Calling 29
Chapter 4 Through Our Trials 47
Chapler 5 Through the Movement of His Spirit 67
Chapter 6 Through Providing His Platform 79
Chapter 7 Through His Miracles 89
Chapter 8 Through Our Testimony 101
Chapter 9 Through Life's Interruptions 111
Chapter 10 Through Our Cooperation with Him 127
Chapter 11 Through Our Worship in Spirit and Truth 139
Chapter 12 Through His Hope 159
About the Author 185