Friday, April 30, 2010

Had It Not Been – Debbie Dorman

“If the LORD had not been on our side…” (Psalm 124)
Debbie Dorman learned something from some street kids at a youth retreat in 1991. (See her website link below.) She saw in them the Lord’s word come to life, when they related how they had been rescued by Him – from certain death to a spiritual life. Being from tough neighborhoods, many of today’s inner-city kids are probably not strangers to seeing someone, maybe even themselves or some of their friends, in handcuffs. Physical danger for these kids is perhaps not new, much as it hadn’t been for the Psalmist David who fled from enemies and friends, and even family members at times. But Dorman says Psalm 124 was brand new when she thought about what those children had said, and it spawned the song “Had It Not Been”.

From her home in Austin, Texas, Dorman ministers to the Hope Chapel, producing music on an album that promotes the same theme as the church - hope. The songs, like the one based on Psalm 124, are evidently inspired by real-life events within the lives of the church’s members. What events in yours or my life might inspire songs, making hope not just a concept but a reality? King David, if indeed he did author Psalm 124, knew physical danger – from his predecessor Saul, from the Philistines, and from Absalom, his own son. Spiritual danger also leapt at him from his own idleness and the resulting sin with Bathsheba. Alternatively, many scholars believe that Psalm 124 may have come from the hand of a writer experiencing the return from exile, long after King David. Those Israelites would have had reason to sing about ‘escaping from the snare’ too. Come forward two or three millennia, and think about the street kids Dorman met. While physical danger – from gangs and drugs – are obvious in the ‘hood’s blighted culture, its inhabitants also face boredom and poverty, an insidious combination. What ones do you and I face?

I had to think about this one, frankly. My physical life has never been threatened by someone else, and I’ve never even encountered a violent criminal act in my presence, as I recall. So, has God been shielding me with a hedge, ala Job, as Satan once challenged the Lord? I was a farm kid from Ohio, so physical danger for me was working around lots of machinery and large animals as a teenager and coming away with few scars, despite driving a tractor with bad brakes and getting a hand caught in a machine when I was 18. I’ve also been in three car accidents in the last 20 years, two of which either totaled or nearly totaled the car I was in, yet I walked away from these unharmed. From these I surmise that God must have been on my side, although someone else might say I was just lucky. Airplane trips for me have also been relatively uneventful. A routine fact of 20th and 21st Century life, you say? Yes, but I still pray for His protection every time I’m on the jet screaming down the airstrip. I also see His hand in my inner life too. Where would I be without His body, and the many friends I can depend on to keep me pointed heavenward? I could think of my personal physical and spiritual fortunes as just that – fortunes, without a source. It’s really a question of who gets the credit. Who gets it in your life – luck or God?

1 comment:

Jack Dorman said...

David, thanks for the link and commentary. We are amazed at how this song has touched so many people. We appreciate your comments on this so much.

Please not, the web site had to move so the link to the song is now incorrect and will lead to an error page. The new site points with

Blessings to you,
Jack for Deb.