Growing up, many areas of my life were rooted in Christian community.
I went to church with my family every Sunday. My summers were filled with
Christian church camps and conferences. I had a loving church family who
supported and loved me well. Studying the Bible and singing worship songs
always made me feel like I was doing something right—like God was showing
me where I belonged.
It was easy to commit time to the Lord when I was surrounded by others who
were striving to do the same, but it was challenging to do so when I was removed from those settings. I remember leaving my church camp every summer with a newfound excitement to read my Bible every day and pray more often. Then a month or so would go by, school would start back up, my life would get busy, and God would be put on the backburner again. Some days, I would leave church feeling like God was really reaching out to me through a sermon or a Bible study, and I would tell myself that I was going to get a grip on my prayer life. Maybe I would be consistent for a few days, but I would always find myself falling back into my old habits. I would only lean into Lord when the timing was convenient for me.
After graduating high school, I decided to go to Grove City College. Coming in as a freshman, it was not hard to see that the Grove City community was full of people who loved the Lord and desired to grow closer to Him. I had the opportunity to take Bible centered classes where I studied the Word in an academic setting, which opened my eyes to so many things I had never known before. I also built many Christ-centered friendships with my fellow students. My relationship with God grew so much within that first year of college, but I knew there was still so much more growing to do. Prioritizing my relationship with God and being consistent in His Word and prayer had always been a struggle of mine. I prayed that God would continue to give me the drive and motivation to seek Him more.
I remember the night before sophomore year vividly. My classes were starting the next morning, and I sat in my room thinking about all ways in which I could fail. What if I am not smart enough to pass my classes? What if I chose the wrong major and it is too late to change? What if I am not hearing where God wants me to go? What if? What if? What if? All these thoughts and anxious emotions came at me like a crashing wave. I was so fearful of
the future. I knew deep down that I could trust God, but it was so hard to focus on His faithfulness when there were so many things to worry about.
During Sophomore year, I got involved in the Orientation Board (OB) at Grove City. The OB is a group of students who organize events to help the freshman get acclimated to college. One of these events is called All Campus Worship (ACW), and Adam Bannister was one of the leaders that year. Ever since I was little, I have loved singing. I led worship services for my church and summer camps before, so I was so excited when I found out I made it onto the ACW team that year! With lots of practice and prayer, the team put together an awesome set. The night of the service was wonderful! It felt great to sing with so many other students on campus, praising our loving and merciful Savior together. I didn’t want the service to end!
Soon after All Campus Worship, Adam and another student started a campus group chat called Spontaneous Worship. The purpose of the group chat was to let others know if you were worshiping somewhere on campus and invite others to join in if they were free. I tried to go to these spontaneous worship sessions whenever I was able to. During these times of worship, I felt free to cry out to God with praises, frustrations, anxieties, and fears. I knew God heard and understood my heart when I came to Him over and over again.
As more and more spontaneous worship sessions took place, more and more people were added to the spontaneous worship group chat. By the end of the year, there were over 300 people added! It was so awesome to see how God took something that started small and made it so much bigger. We were having worship in the chapel at 11:00 almost every night. The more time I spent worshiping, the closer to the Lord I felt. I never regretted
skipping out on an extra hour of studying in the library to go to the chapel and worship
One night during worship, Adam, one other student, and I decided to sing through scripture. We flipped our Bibles to Mathew 6:25-34. This passage is not only poetically beautiful (which made it so easy and enjoyable to sing), but it is so applicable to anyone who worries…like me. Fearing what the future holds is something that I found myself worrying about a lot. While singing through that scripture, I was reminded of God’s love for me. He cares for me more deeply than I could ever imagine. He has promised to never abandon me, and He has never broken that promise yet. If he has proven his faithfulness to me time and time again, then why am I afraid? Why do I fear my future when I know he will be with me every step of the way?
Later on that semester, Adam told me that he started writing down some lyrics to go along with the Matthew 6 scripture we sang that night. We spent some time playing around with different melodies and lyrics, and the song “Why do I Worry?” (which is on the “It is Finished” album) started coming to life. Fast forward to winter break. I was missing our chapel worship sessions so I decided to mess around on my ukulele and worship in my own room. I started to think about the chorus “Why do I Worry?” and then realized that Adam and I had never actually finished solidifying melodies or the verses. That night, I played around with some chords, wrote out a few more verses, and sent it to Adam. When we got back to campus, we sat down at a piano and worked on adding harmonies and tweaking things here and there. And just like that, it was like...a legit song. It was super cool to see something that started as spontaneous worship being turned into an actual song!
At the time, I had no idea that song would soon be part of an entire album of other Gospel-center songs or that I would become a band member of Songs for Revival. Since then, I have graduated from Grove City College and have an accounting job in Pittsburgh. Since I’ve moved, God has continued to teach me more about trusting in Him, and I see so many ways He has been faithful to me each day. It has also been wonderful seeing Songs for Revival grow to be what it is today, and I’m excited to see how God will continue to use it to build up his kingdom. What a gift it is to create music that encourages others and brings people closer to the Lord!
I look back to the night before my sophomore year began. I was filled anxiety, allowing my fear eat me up from the inside out. Since then, God has worked in my heart to show me His love and mercy. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” God has taught me that when I hand my fears over to the Him, He takes care of them. When I entrust God with my worries, He gives me peace. I am not perfect, and I still often allow my worries to overcome me. But I’m thankful that I serve a patient God who will always be there with arms wide open to welcome me back to Him.