The Narrow Place: A Conversation with Lauren Chandler
I’ve been hearing about Lauren’s passion to make much of Christ through writing and singing music. Her most recent project is The Narrow Place, a collection of songs birthed from and reflecting upon a season of trial in her family’s life and the sustaining faithfulness of God.
Trevin Wax: Lauren, many might be surprised that you sing – and that you have written songs. How long have you had interest in offering new songs to the church?
Lauren Chandler: Even as a child, my heart overflowed onto paper through poems and songs. As the Lord has shaped my heart, so the songs have evidenced the shaping. Reflections on nature through a child’s eyes gave way to teenage heartbreak which eventually (and thankfully) gave way to strains of grace and redemption.
A song I wrote with a friend landed on the first “Village Worship” album in 2004. Since then, we’ve sung a few of the songs I’ve written or helped write at The Village.
Trevin Wax: As you wrote about your journey in recording this album, you said, “I have gotten so much of Jesus. He has shattered me to reshape me, and for that I am incredibly grateful.” What are some ways you’ve seen the Lord prepare you personally for this new endeavor?
Lauren Chandler: The whole EP journey started while I was working through Kelly Minter’s study on Ruth. I grabbed on to an illustration she gave about baking bread. Instead of beginning the process at our modern-day ﬁrst step (go to the store around the corner and pick up a pound of ﬂour), she began where one would gather wheat, just as Ruth did. She continued to describe the beating and threshing and grinding. The truly arduous process had more than enough steps to ﬁll a recipe card. Ruth was faithful to trust God to provide sustenance for Naomi and herself, and it was evident in her willingness to go out and collect the sheaves from Boaz’s ﬁeld.
This resonated deeply with me. I felt the Lord say, Trust Me to satisfy and sustain you but do the work of gathering the sheaves, beating, threshing, grinding, mixing and kneading…I will do the baking…you will know when it’s time.
Previously, I had thought that things would just “line up” for me musically. Someone would call and say, “hey, I have this studio booked, these players ready to go and time to ﬁrm up the songs you have…all you need to do is show up and sing.”
What the Lord wanted in all of this was to walk alongside me. He wanted me to know His faithfulness ﬁrsthand.
I had to make calls, pray, send emails, pray, ask questions, pray. Some leads were dead-ends but when I got there, I wasn’t disheartened because I didn’t get there by myself. The Lord was with me the entire time. And that was enough.
Finally, out of nowhere (and about a year from the day I started to “gather the sheaves”), a response came from a call I had placed months prior. Interestingly, the situation panned out in this manner: I had studio time and musicians booked, time to ﬁrm up songs with producers who happened to be long-time friends and all I had to do was show up and sing (oh, and pay for it…gladly!).
That is just like Him. He still did all the work. He just let me join Him in it. He has been with me the whole way. And that makes it worth it.
Lauren Chandler: Each song is a little different. For the most part, I came to the table with an idea…usually a lyric and a melody.
A few of the songs were mostly written but just needed a little tweaking.
“No Other One” was a song I had been working on since I was pregnant with our youngest, Norah. It was essentially three and a half years in the making!
Trevin Wax: I love your creative rendering / reworking of “His Eye is On the Sparrow.” What drew you to this song in particular?
Lauren Chandler: Birds have always fascinated me. I believe it’s in my blood. Both of my grandmothers were fond of birds. My mom is as well.
When I was a young girl, she and I would peer out the window into the back yard and observe the graceful creatures lighting on the bird feeder. Momma would identify each one. A part of me envied them. They freely brought glory to God by lifting up their voices and spreading out their wings. It seemed so effortless compared to my clumsy attempt to glorify God. I always second guess myself and critique every effort.
Psalm 84 points to the sparrow:
“Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.”
Jesus talks about a sparrow, though small and insignificant in our eyes, being cared for and watched by the Father. So, as a child of God, how much more will He delight in my clumsy attempts and take great care of my soul?
“His Eye is On the Sparrow” captures this sentiment. I can sing because He is with me and He loves me. And, in deeply knowing I am loved by Him, I am free.
Trevin Wax: What do you hope to accomplish with this album?
Lauren Chandler: This is best answered by what I wrote in the thank-you’s of the album:
To those who are holding this or reading on iTunes, my prayer is that your hearts would be encouraged to press into the Lord. He is real. He is good. He is near. He will be the stability of your times. He is the hope. He is the only one who will sustain you in this narrow place–the space between what is and what will be.
Most importantly, thank you to Jesus–my life, my only hope. Thank you for caring too much to let me stay as I am. Thank you for mercifully letting all the false props fall to the side so that all I have left to lean on is you. Because of your sufﬁcient grace, my lips will praise you.