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Bouncing Off the Floor

Lenny Smith shares the story of how he wrote the song, “Our God Reigns.”

Sometimes you have to reach bottom, in order to bounce off the floor and fly up into the air. Back in 1973, I was out of work, again, and pretty depressed. I should say I was “very depressed.” My wife and I had a son, an apartment, a car, and lots of bills to pay. I had also rendered myself unemployable as a high school teacher, just too much Jesus talk in class! I was naive to think that talking about Jesus was more important than teaching Latin or English literature. What a fool!

One morning when I was reading the Bible and I came to Is. 52:7: “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of Him Who brings good news, announcing peace, proclaiming news of happiness: your God reigns.” Well, my heart began pounding in my chest, because what I read said: “You are going to get through this and you will be fine. In fact you will do very well.” Words fail me now. I just felt this dark cloud lift off me. I picked-up my Gibson J45 guitar and in a few minutes “Our God Reigns” was born. I had one verse and the chorus. It wasn’t so much that I wrote it as it was that I received it!

Every one of us has had disappointment, failure, and had our hearts broken.

A couple of months later, a traveling evangelist visited our church, heard the song, and took it with him and taught it as he went from church to church. It took me three more years to complete the other three verses that made this “Scripture chorus” into a hymn that went around the world. After the three big Christian publishers passed on publishing my song in the late 70s, I decided to keep the copyright and established New Jerusalem Music to administer all my songs, as well as the songs of my son, Daniel C. Smith (Danielson Famile), and our friends. Wow, has that worked out for good for me and mine! I think we really do have a good shepherd who is with us, guiding, closing doors, and opening doors.

Every one of us has had disappointment, failure, and had our hearts broken. But we need not get bitter about it. If we look closely, we can see how God has worked it out for our good. We have become more understanding, more patient, and more kind to others who have been overlooked and forgotten. Before the resurrection was the crucifixion. I never would have taken up learning how to play the guitar in seminary in the 60s, if I had not been so desperately lonely for so long. I never would have started writing Scripture songs if I had not needed so deeply the comfort of the psalms of David, who also knew something of loss and pain and heartbreak.

Now, looking back, I am grateful I was fired from that last teaching job. It proved to be the door God closed before, before, He opened a new door for me. That open door has allowed me to enter into a wonderful world of miracles and revelation.

Thank you, Lord, for being such a good, loving, kind, determined, faithful shepherd. I know I am in Your good hands and that will never change.

 

Image: Samuel-Elias Nadler

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Category: Living the Faith, Spring 2020

About the Author: Lenny Smith began playing guitar and writing folk songs for chapel during his 7 years of seminary in the mid-1960’s. By 1973, he had written many songs, among them “Our God Reigns.” Lenny married the lovely Marian in 1970 and they had 5 wonderful children, aka the band Danielson. Lenny started his own publishing company to administrate his songs and those from friends and relatives. Later, he started Great Comfort Records with his son Daniel to offer to the church songs of praise and worship from family and friends. Lenny continues to write songs and contribute to the dissemination of the Word of Life, put to melody. New Jerusalem Music

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