Saturday, May 6, 2017
I Love You Lord -- Laurie Klein
This 24-year old mother needed an emotional lift one morning in 1974. And so, Laurie Klein asked her God to provide the words for “I Love You Lord”, and perhaps He could fill the gaping void she felt was overwhelming her. Stuck in central Oregon – that’s how she felt. Fortunately, Laurie was a blank slate (kinda like the map picture of central Oregon here, without much detail, other than some color), allowing her to be a vessel that He could fill. It was the last part of the song she sang that lonely morning that has been most significant for her, the words that she wants to remember as her life theme. Although she felt empty, she wasn’t unaware of what ancient character she thought she was mimicking, at least in part. She’d not been completely like that person from centuries earlier, yet she saw enough resemblance to believe He could bring her up from the pit where she’d fallen. Is that the key to accessing Him – see yourself in stark relief compared to Him?
Laurie Klein had many factors working against her spirit that morning in the autumn of 1974, yet only one thing really mattered that day, as it turned out. Money – she and her husband Bill had little of this to live on, since she was a full-time mother to a one-year old and he was a full-time college student. Home – a mobile trailer, which you’d know is cramped, if you’ve ever been in one. No friends. No driver’s license. No church home. So nearly everything she had (except for Bill), was apparently cooped up with her in that small trailer. In that emotional and physical wasteland, Laurie says she remembered that God had pledged to redeem his people, like the ancient prophet Hosea’s stray wife, Gomer, by first taking them into the desert (Hosea 2:14). So, perhaps God was the only presence that really mattered that day, especially when she asked Him for a song, and did He ever answer! It came effortlessly in moments, with just her voice and His ear contributing to its development. When she related all of this to Bill later, the words imprinted on him so readily, that he suggested she sing it for others. The rest, as they say, is history. The second part of what she’d sing, the ‘sweet, sweet sound’ she so wanted to soothe her spirit, is what Laurie thinks of most when she ponders being His servant. It’s a lot more than the musical notes making a beautiful melody that, translated through someone’s voicebox, finds God’s approval. For Laurie, it’s everything else she does and says that makes a full-life, comprehensive declaration to the Giver of “I Love You Lord”.
Find a desert. Although Laurie Klein may not have many pleasant memories of central Oregon and 1974, what washed over this forlorn young woman should make any serious believer and music-lover wonder if he shouldn’t be hunting the desert more intentionally. What was it God said about ‘poor in spirit’ (Matthew 5:3), or about the desert (again, see Hosea 2:14). People see him there (Exodus 16:10), it’s where David sought Him (Psalm 63:1), it’s where he can transform the barren into the fertile (Isaiah 51:3), where He will make the desolate and sad joyful again (Jeremiah 33:9-11). From Moses (Ex. 7:30) to Jesus (Matthew 4), the barren place is an awaiting encounter with Him and a place where He can be present to chase away evil, despite what the surroundings look like. Spend some time in a desert, at least once.
See more information on the song story in these sources: The Complete Book of Hymns – Inspiring Stories About 600 Hymns and Praise Songs by William J. Petersen and Ardythe Petersen, Tyndale House Publishers, 2006; and Our God Reigns: The Stories behind Your Favorite Praise and Worship Songs, by Phil Christensen and Shari MacDonald, Kregel Publications, 2000.