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BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#1074 - "Canyon" by Ellie Holcomb
The contemporary artist shares the touching story behind her impactful and relevant new single
 


BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS, #1074 -
Posted: June 17, 2021 | By: KevinDavis_NRT
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I first heard contemporary artist Ellie Holcomb sing with her husband's band Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors when they opened for rock band NEEDTOBREATHE. Ellie is the daughter of legendary Christian music producer, Brown Bannister. 
 
Ellie is an anointed songwriter. She has a profound way of bringing me closer to God with her poignant words, tender singing, and inspirational truths. Ellie has consistently impressed me with her mature faith and sincere desire to serve Jesus. 
 
So far, Ellie has quite a storied career as a solo artist. First, she dropped two EPs, Magnolia and With You Now. Then, she released her debut full-length album As Sure As the Sun, which features the hit songs “The Broken Beautiful” and title track “As Sure As the Sun,” That album earned Ellie the GMA Dove Award for Best New Artist.  
 
Afterward, Ellie released Red Sea Road, a thirteen song album featuring standouts "Find You Here" and “He Will.” That release was one of my Top 10 Albums of 2017. Now, four years later, Ellie is back with her latest release, Canyon.
 
Canyon’s songs “I Don’t Want to Miss It,” “Color,” and the title track showcase Ellie's passionate vocals, thus setting the tone for an exceptional album. The artist expresses her prayers to God, allowing listeners to eavesdrop on her worshipful offerings and captivating ballads, one of Ellie's strengths. I had the chance to speak with Ellie about “Canyon.”
 


Please tell me the personal story behind this song.
 
There are a couple reasons why it took me four years to release a new album. One reason, I was writing an entirely different album and was well on my way to recording it (maybe I’ll release it one day). Then, some inspiration changed the trajectory. More about that in a minute.
 
Second reason, I spent much of the past four years visiting the deepest wounds in my own story and grieving them. I had always acknowledged they were there and knew God was good, but I hadn’t gone through the grieving process. 
 
So, I gave myself permission to visit those wounds in my story and invited God into those places with me. There, I encountered God’s tenderness, nearness, kindness, and empathy. This changed me and healed my wounds in a deep way.
 
I was writing an album about that process. And then, in March 2020, a tornado woke me up in the middle of the night. It tore through my neighborhood. And, shortly thereafter, Covid-19 shut down our country and canceled our touring. Not to mention the racial tension was high in the wake of George Floyd's death. 
 
Last summer, my family and I visited the Grand Canyon for the first time in my life. We camped on the North Rim, rafted down the river, as well as camped on the riverbanks. And, when we were in the pit of the canyon, riding on a raft, our tour guides told us the canyon walls share stories of one disaster after another: a flood, a volcano, an earthquake, a landslide, a mudslide. To me, this was a picture of how chaotic and divided our country is right now, and how so many of us feel in this season. We’re dealing with wound after wound. And, in the middle of this picture of disasters, there’s a river running through. 
 
I realized this scenario was a picture of the Gospel. Water moves to the lowest place. Our God moves to the lowest place. In our deepest sorrow and deepest pain, there’s an ever-present current of God’s love that moves deeper than our deepest pain. 
 
“Canyon” is a song and a record about a deeper sorrow and a higher hope. In many ways, writing and singing these songs felt like finding my way through a serious season of suffering and sorrow.
 
Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?
 
Psalm 23 (NKJV): "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."
 
Psalm 23:4 (VOICE): "Even in the unending shadows of death's darkness, I am not overcome by fear. Because You are with me in those dark moments, near with Your protection and guidance, I am comforted."

John 7:38 (NASB): “The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”
 
Isaiah 55:1 (NLT): Invitation to the Lord’s Salvation: “Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink—even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk—it’s all free!”

1 John 4:21 (NIV): “And He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

Hebrews 13:14 (NLT): "For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come."

Psalm 30:11-12 (VOICE): "You did it: You turned my deepest pains into joyful dancing; You stripped off my dark clothing and covered me with joyful light. You have restored my honor. My heart is ready to explode, erupt in new songs! It's impossible to keep quiet! Eternal One, my God, my Life-Giver, I will thank You forever."
 
Philippians 4:6 (VOICE): “Don't be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come.”

Philippians 4:7 (NKJV): "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
 
What is the takeaway message?
 
We all know what it’s like to have our hearts broken and split open by the pain. We also know about the loss and sorrow we encounter in our pain. We know brokenness. We know division. But, there, in the middle of all the chaos, in the places where the pain cuts a canyon into our very hearts, there is a river running through. 
 
There’s a current of love that brings refreshment, hope, and comfort. There’s a river of love to carry us if we let it. There’s a river to carry us back home, to the place where we came from, to the place of belonging to the one who made us, to a place of belonging to each other. And that’s heaven.
 
God met me in my personal loss. He gave me a picture of how He’s with me in this global time of loss. 
 
Jesus calls us to love our enemies. What does that look like? Everyone is made in the image of God. What if we’re called to share the gospel at the table of our enemies? Even if we disagree politically, let’s meet with even those we disagree with and share the love of God.
 
Lyrics
 
The shape of Your love
Is a mystery
The shape of Your love
Is falling rain
There in my deepest ache
You are whispering
That the cracks
Of my broken heart
Will let You in
 
And there’s a river running through
My deepest sorrow
There's a river running through

My deepest pain
There’s a river running through
Every dream that never came true
Made me a canyon but there’s
A river running through
 
I’m a canyon
I’m a canyon
But there’s a
River running through
I’m a canyon
I’m a canyon
But there’s a
River running through
 
The shape of your love
Is a mystery
Walks through prison doors
And hands out all the keys
You move through the dark
You’re a holy Wind
And the cracks
Of my broken heart
They breath you in
 
And there’s a river running through
My deepest sorrow
There’s a river running through
My deepest pain
There’s a river running through
Every dream that never came true
Made me a canyon but there’s
A river running through
 
I’m a canyon
I’m a canyon
But there’s a
River running through
I’m a canyon
I’m a canyon
But there’s a
River running through
 
I’m a canyon
I’m a canyon
But there’s a
River running through
I’m a canyon
I’m a canyon
But there’s a
River running through
 
I walked into the desert
And I found You
You set a table for me
In the presence of my enemies
To share with my enemies
No longer my enemies
No longer my enemies
No longer my enemies
 
There’s a river running through
Our deepest sorrow
There’s a river running through
Our deepest pain
There’s a river running through
Every dream that never came true
Made us a canyon but there’s
A river running through
 
We’re a canyon
We’re a canyon
But there’s a
River running through
We’re a canyon
We’re a canyon
But there’s a
River running through
 
We’re a canyon
We’re a canyon
But there’s a
River running through
We’re a canyon
We’re a canyon
But there’s a
River running through
 
Closing Thoughts
 
"If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world," wrote author C.S. Lewis in his book, Mere Christianity. As believers in Christ, we know that we are made for God. We were all created to find our home in Him.
 
I’ve already received a blessing from this song. And, that is hearing my daughters sing the song’s lyrics with all their hearts. This album is loaded with positive grace-filled messages of hope.
I want my daughters to hear and have thoughts of hope. The thoughts of hope that points them to the unconditional love of their heavenly Father. 
 
King David was a shepherd. When writing Psalm 23, he knew that the Lord was his only guide and hope, the good shepherd of his soul. 
 
“Canyon” is all about submitting your worries, anxieties, and stress to God. Letting Him be your guide. He wants to walk beside you. He wants you to be bold and unafraid.
 
When I read the Bible, I’m strengthened with the truth that fear, worry, and anxiety are not God's plans for my life. So, trust God's Word. Jesus commands us to trust God's Word completely, no matter the circumstances.
 
Our thoughts are constantly under attack by the enemy. This song is a great way to submit to God and commit yourself to Him. The Bible says to trust in what God says about us, no matter how we feel about ourselves. 
 
God knows us intimately. And, because Jesus died for us on the cross, God sees us as holy, righteous, redeemed, chosen, fully known, and forgiven—no matter what we've done. As the 1960s hymn “They’ll Know We Are Christians” goes, "They'll know we are Christians by our love."
 
God explains love in 1 John 4:19: "We love because he first loved us." God's love was given at an outrageous cost: the life of His only begotten son. Love God—because He first loved you. And love others unconditionally. 
 
Put all your hope and trust in Jesus. There’s nothing that can separate you from His love. God sees you as He sees His son. He makes something out of nothing in each of us. That's reason to sing this song at the top of our lungs in gratefulness to Him: “There’s a river running through/My deepest pain/There’s a river running through/Every dream that never came true/Made me a canyon but there’s/A river running through.” Amen to that.

NRT lead contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector, and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.

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