Austin, TX is often referred to as the Live Music Capital of the World. However, as much as I love music, I haven’t attended many of the live events here. Perhaps if I were younger the music would be more appealing, but at almost 62 my preferences have changed dramatically. But even though I now listen primarily to contemporary Christian, my Pandora radio stations and iTunes playlists are filled with many different genres and eras of songs.
Classic rockers know “Stairway to Heaven” recorded by Led Zeppelin. Along with the unforgettable guitar solo by Jimmy Page (thought by many to be the best of all time), it is one of my longtime favorites because of the memories it evokes.
In defense of the selection of favorites on my playlists, studies have shown a positive link between music and Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The Mayo Clinic released a study in 2015 that stated “music memories are often preserved in Alzheimer’s disease because key brain areas linked to music memory are relatively undamaged by the disease.”
Thankfully I do not have Alzheimer’s or dementia. But as a music lover, my song selections have earned a new level of significance! One day they just might be the critical links necessary to jar my memory.
Recently “Stairway to Heaven” began to play in my head. No particular memory of by-gone days popped up though. Actually, it was the song title that produced a flood of emotion.
Looking at these two side-by-side photos of the stairs going down to our boat dock on Lake Travis in Austin you can notice a drastic difference in the water level. Actually about 50 feet difference. The picture on the left was taken in March 2015. The one on the right in March 2016.
The diminishing water level became my obsession during the years of the drought that began in 2010. Rain became my idol. If only God would bring the rain and fill our lake, life would be wonderful again. Rain would fix it all.
For several years I would look down at the dock. At all the stairs. At all the rocks. Just imagining what it would be like to have a full lake again. It would be so heavenly. There would be no more worries about severe water shortages and rationing. Fewer dead trees and farmers would lose less crops. Businesses along the lake would thrive again and home values would rise. And very, very selfishly, I would be able to walk down to the dock, without going rock climbing!
It was during those years of the physical drought that I also experienced my own spiritual drought. I longed for rain more than I longed for God. I found spiritual renewal when I realized my stairway to heaven was upwards, towards my Heavenly Father. Not down the boat dock stairs to a full lake.
God orchestrated the perfect series of events to bring me to that realization. He took me on a 3 ½ year journey, writing a daily devotional titled Dancing in the Drought. I developed a desperate daily dependence on the Lord as we wrote together. Finding my joy came from Jesus’ spring of living water. Not rainwater.
So, back to the song “Stairway to Heaven” playing in my head…my husband and I were on the dock, taking photos of the gorgeous, full lake.
As I aimed my iPhone up towards the top of the stairs, as I took in the beauty of the greenery along the water’s edge—beauty that just a year ago had been a pile of ugly rocks—I heard that unforgettable guitar solo by Jimmy Page.
Then I heard that still, small voice: Your stairway to heaven can only be found in Jesus
At that moment I was flooded with thanksgiving. Thankful for a full lake, but most importantly thankful for the journey I took with God in the drought.
Only an intimate relationship with Jesus—Jesus, the Living Water—can quench the thirst in our souls and sustain us for all eternity.