By Shewanda Riley
“I need to play a long song.” I remember thinking these words one day in the
early 1990’s when I was working as a gospel radio announcer at KCHL Radio in San
Antonio. It was time for me to take a break during my 6-hour shift. Since there was no
one else in the station at the time, I was looking for songs longer than 5 minutes so I
could get a snack, go to the bathroom and maybe even get some fresh air. I thumbed
through the albums (yes, we still played albums!) and saw “Reach Beyond the Break
parts 1 and 2” by Rev. Clay Evans. Combined both songs were a total of 10 minutes.
“Perfect!” I thought. Even though I hadn’t heard the songs before, I was more
concerned about them being long enough for me to take a break. I cued up the record
and listened for about 10 seconds, just long enough to make sure the record wasn’t
scratched and to hear Rev. Evans start his signature “talk” before the singing started.
Then I left to get my snacks and something from my car. When I came back into the
studio, there was at least 1 minute left on the song. At this point, the choir was singing
the refrain, “Hope is your rope.” The song ended with enough time for me to get my
next song ready to play.
That song turned out to be a favorite with the listening audience so I did
eventually stay in the studio long enough to hear the whole thing. I had to admit that it
had a good message of maintaining hope in the midst of despair and chaos. In it, Rev.
Evans told the story of a young man who was drowning and was calling to his father
who was on the shore for help. His father couldn’t swim out to him but threw him a
rope. The young man did his best to hold onto the rope as his father began to pull him
to safety. Then, the young man yelled that the rope was breaking. The father told his
son to reach beyond the break and hold on. Eventually, the young man did what his
father said and made it back to shore.
Years later, I finally got the heart of the song: use faith to go beyond the
“breaks” in our lives and hold onto God’s promises. Recently, a series of
disappointments made me question so many things about my faith and God. I still
believed in God’s transforming power, but I had somehow stopped believing that His
power could transform MY life.
One day years ago I was dwelling on those many “breaks” and God brought the
words of this song to my mind. This was before the days of YouTube and I didn’t have
a copy of the song. All I could remember was the chorus “Reach beyond the break and
hold on.” Hebrews 10:22-22 encourages us to draw close to God. Verse 23 says, “Let
us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Rather
than wait for God to supernaturally move in my life, I had to learn how to take the first
steps of faith and reach beyond my breaks…then have enough faith to hold on.
Shewanda Riley is a Dallas, Texas based author of “Love Hangover: Moving from Pain
to Purpose After a Relationship Ends” and “Writing to the Beat of God’s Heart: A Book
of Prayers for Writers.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her
on Twitter @shewanda.