The Valley of the Shadow of Death
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Jeremy Camp talks about one of the most pivotal events of his life-the death of his wife, Melissa. Burdened with grief, Jeremy shares how he struggled with God and even his own faith.
The Valley of the Shadow of Death
Bob: It was more than a year after Jeremy Camp’s wife, Melissa, had died that a new relationship took him by surprise. Someone he had met—a woman named Adrienne—they started becoming good friends.
Jeremy: So we’re hanging out; and then pretty soon, I start feeling this like: “I don’t know,” and “I don’t know if I can do this.” We start: “Hey, I like you,” “I like you”; but I started feeling guilty—like, “I can’t do this.” I just got, “It’s been, you know, only a year-and-a-half. I just”—not that the time line matters; but to me, it’s like—“It’s not very long.” I sit there at the table, and I look at her; and I’m getting ready to say that. What came out of my mouth was this: “So do you feel like you can marry me?” [Laughter]
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, March 12th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. You’ll find us online at FamilyLifeToday.com. We are going to hear from Jeremy Camp today about a surprising second love story in his life—how, after the death of his wife, Melissa, he met someone new. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. We will go through events in our lives that will cause all of us to just pause and go: “God, are You there? Do You exist?” I mean, the walk of faith is a walk to say: “I am going to believe in God, even in the midst of trial and adversity.” That’s the theme we’re going to hear about on today’s program. It’s at the center point of a new movie that we’ve had a chance to see—a movie that’s opening in theatres this week called I Still Believe.
Dave: Beautiful movie, because it’s so raw. It walks you through the journey of faith. And faith is not something—I mean, how many of us—I know I’ve thought this: “You give your life to Christ, He’s going to make everything better. [Laughter]
Dave: “Yes, there will be some dark days; but they won’t be that dark because now I have the light of Christ in my life.”
And yet, there are times you go through the darkest dark; and this story is a walk through a dark valley—
Bob: Yes, yes.
Dave: —and yet faith is still there. I Still Believe—it’s/it’s inspiring.
Ann: And every one of us will walk through a valley at some point in our lives that we wonder: “God are You there?” “Do You still answer prayers?” I think it’s okay to have those struggles; but in the end, I think, saying, “I still believe,” is foundational.
Bob: And this is clearly a faith-based movie; it’s a faith-based story.
Bob: But you guys would be comfortable inviting people, who aren’t church goers, to go see this movie with you.
Dave: That was my first thought after watching it—is: “I want to take neighbors”; “I want to take friends”; “I want to take guys I play basketball with that don’t go to church/that would say they don’t have faith.” This would be a movie to take them to and then have a conversation; because it will open up a discussion about things that really, really matter.
Ann: It’s much like I Can Only Imagine, the other film that the Erwin Brothers produced. It’s one of those that you want to invite neighbors and friends, that maybe have no faith, because it can generate a great discussion.
Bob: And the quality of the film is the kind of quality that you can invite a friend to.
Dave: Oh, yes.
Ann: You’re not embarrassed.
Bob: That’s right.
Well, Jeremys story—which we’ve been hearing this week from a conversation we had with him about four years ago—his story is that he went to Bible college; he met there the woman who became his wife, Melissa. During the time that they were dating, she was diagnosed with cancer. God ultimately healed her of that cancer; and the doctors released her and said: “She’s cancer-free. Of course, we want to continue to monitor it.”
They got married, went on their honeymoon; she started having some health issues on the honeymoon that took them back to the doctor as soon as they got home. The cancer had reappeared. Ultimately, in spite of their best efforts to deal with it, the doctors weren’t able to do it this time; and God did not bring a miracle the second time, in spite of many prayers for that.
Melissa went home to be with the Lord. As Jeremy shares, that sent him into a little bit of a crisis of faith/a little bit of a spiritual tail spin in his life.
[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]
Bob: You titled your—your book and the song—
Bob: —I Still Believe.
Bob: Tell us about writing that in the midst of just reflecting on everything that you shared with us here.
Jeremy: Yes, it was probably—I can’t—it was two to three weeks after she went to be with the Lord. I was at home, and questions after questions. At this point, I started going: “God can I trust You?” I did!—I had those questions. I remember even taking my Bible, throwing it across the room when I was reading about Jesus healing and saying, “If you have faith,”—you know—“I will heal you.” “I have faith!” I remember taking my Bible and saying, “I have faith”—you know?—and throwing it across the room and just— so all these questions.
Finally, while I’m sitting there at my parents’ house in Indiana, and the Lord spoke to me and said, “Take your guitar up.” I kind of denied that for a little while; I was like, “No, no.” It’s like, “Take you guitar up”; and after a while, it’s kind of like, "Take your guitar up.” It’s like I take my guitar up, and I started strumming. What came out was: “Okay, I still believe in Your faithfulness. I still believe in your truth. I still believe in your Word. Even when I can’t see, I still believe.” I just started writing the lyrics about, and I wrote the song in ten minutes.
I just wrote exactly how I was feeling—starts off, just going: “Scattered words, empty thoughts seem to pour from my heart. Never seemed so torn before; seems I don’t know where to start,”—all these real questions like David did. David, sometimes: “God, why are my enemies prospering?” “Why are they coming against me?” “Why?”—these questions—but then there is resolve at the end of the question.
In the song, there is resolve at the end of my question. I said: “God, but I still believe in Your faithfulness; I still believe in Your truth; I still believe in Your word.” And David always says, “But God, Your loving kindness endures forever.”
Bob: That’s the pattern of the Psalms over and over again.
Jeremy: —over and over.
And I really didn’t think about it during that moment; but I realized, going back, going: “Okay; it doesn’t mean we can’t have those—those times, and those wrestles, and those battles—that’s part of it; but the resolve for me was saying that: “But I still trust you!”
Bob: Okay; play your song for us
Jeremy: Yes; I Still Believe?
[Jeremy singing I Still Believe] [Applause]
Bob: That’s Jeremy camp singing the song, I Still Believe. That is the title song from the movie that releases this weekend in theatres. Once again, knowing the story—that song is even more powerful to listen to; isn’t it.
Dave: Yes, not only has God given him a gift—not only to write— but wow!—that voice.
Dave: But knowing the—where that came from—its almost like it was written right out of his heart—
Dave: —the struggle we all experience, and he experienced. Yes, you can’t listen without tears in your eyes; because you know the story.
Ann: It makes me want to go back and listen to that again and again; especially when my sister passed away, it’s like, “Oh, I needed that song right then.”
Bob: Right; well, this is not the end of the story for Jeremy. There is a “rest of the story” that we get a chance to see hinted at in the movie. I asked Jeremy about how he met Adrienne, who would eventually become his second wife.
[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]
Bob: We’ve got just enough time left for you to jump ahead a couple of years in the story.
Bob: You were on tour and something awakened in your heart that you probably wondered if it would ever awaken again.
Jeremy: Yes, absolutely. So here I am—my first tour ever in the industry. I had my album just come out, and I was going on my first big tour. There are eight bands in this tour. I became friends with every band. I remember watching this, you know, all the bands. I would watch The Benjamin Gate—was the band she was in. Here she was on the stage; and she’s, literally, like rocking it out; I’m going, “Oh, that’s interesting.” [Laughter] So I’m going, “Cool.”
Her merch table was near mine, so we would just hang out all day because I would talk to people coming up; and I’d love just hanging out. So we just kind of became friends: “Hey, how are you?” “Where are you from?” “You know, I like long walks on the beach…”—no, just kidding! [Laughter]
She was really intrigued with my story, because I would share from stage. She would literally ask me questions about Melissa and about her faith, because she was so intrigued at how strong she was; and watching me get up on stage, proclaiming God’s goodness. We became really good friends. And both of us didn’t even think anything at first; it wasn’t like this connection of like: “Oooh!” you know? [Laughter]
Bob: It wasn’t like two weeks and your saying, “I love you,” was there?
Jeremy: Yes, that—no. [Laughter]
So I remember—but I will say I have a fun moment that I will share with you. So we’re hanging out. And then pretty soon, I start feeling this like: “I don’t know,” and “I don’t know if I can do this.” We start: “Hey, I like you,” “I like you,”—you know, that whole same thing—but I started feeling guilty—like: “I can’t do this,” and I just got, “Its been only a year-and-a-half and I”—not that time lines matter; but to me, it’s like—“It’s not very long.”
I took her out to Applebee’s—Adrienne
Jeremy: Yes, exactly; it was pretty high rolling. [Laughter] So like that for me—that was in Lafayette, Indiana—I was like, “Yes, okay.” [Laughter]
I took her out; and I was going to tell her that: “Hey, we need to not do this,”—you know—“We need to not hang out. I just don’t feel comfortable.” I sit there at the table; and I look at her, and I’m getting ready to say that. What came out of my mouth was this: “So do you feel like you can marry me? [Laughter] She, right away, says, “Yes.” I went: “Okay; well, I came here to kind of break up with you; but um.” [Laughter] I’m not the smoothest guy. [Laughter]
Words of advice—I’m not going to give you engagement advice with how to do it. But for me, it was that moment of going: “Wait a second. I’m not going to play games.” I/my heart was saying; God was going, “No.” I knew that: “Wait; if we are going to pursue this, then it has to be towards marriage. I’m not going to play games. I’ve been through stuff in my life. It’s not just like, ‘Hey, let’s hang out.’”
So when she said that, I went, “Okay”; and we got engaged about six months later after that conversation. We hung out, and I got to know her. And it was just an amazing, amazing time because every time we would talk about the Lord—it was this amazing just—let’s talk more about Jesus. And you know, her touring a lot and we are away from other people—it’s just having that deep connection of Christ, and that’s what brought us together. So—
Bob: Can you do There Will Be a Day?
Jeremy: Yes! Alright; sweet [Laughter] For sure! [Strumming] Alright; oh my, it’s been awhile. Hold on. [Laughter]
Bob: Do you want me to show you? [Laughter]
Jeremy: Hold on! [Laughter] You’re like—“Yes, would you play it for me please?” [Laughter]
Bob: Yes, yes.
[Jeremy singing: There Will Be a Day]
Bob: Well, again, that’s Jeremey Camp; we’ve been hearing his story this week—a story that is coming to a theatre near you. [Laughter]This weekend, the movie, I Still Believe, is in local theatres. We are hoping listeners will go see it.
Dave: We’re hoping thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, will go see it—just like they did I Can Only Imagine—and cause such a buzz that other people, that are not people of faith/that don’t go to church, would hear about this movie and go, “What a story!” It’s going to send people on a—on a similar journey of faith.
Ann: And it reminds you how one life can impact the world. I think we often think: “Oh, does my life matter? Does what I say matter?” But I look at what happened to this couple and look at how they are affecting the whole world and inspiring faith—
Ann: —Melissa’s life mattered and has impacted, not only thousands of others, but even bumped Adrienne into Jeremy.
Bob: Yes; well, and think about the millions of people, whose lives are going to be impacted, as they go see the movie this weekend and it continues to show in theaters across the country. We want to encourage you to get out and see the movie, I Still Believe. We have a trailer for the film on our website at FamilyLIfeToday.com. You can go and get a preview of the film if you’d like.
We also have Jeremy’s book, which is called I Still Believe, that tells the story of his marriage to Melissa, of her death, and then his relationship with Adrienne that he shared about today. Go to FamilyLIfeToday.com to order a copy of the book or to watch the trailer for the film. You can also order the book by calling 1-800-FL-TODAY. So one more time: the website—FamilyLIfeToday.com—the number to call: 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
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Tomorrow, we’re going to meet the guys who are responsible for taking Jeremy Camp’s story and turning it into a movie. We’ll meet Jon and Andy Erwin tomorrow and talk about the film that will be in theaters this weekend. I hope you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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©Song: I Still Believe
Artist: Jeremy Camp [Performed Live on Program]
Album: Stay (p) 2002 BEC Recordings
©Song: There Will Be a Day
Artist: Jeremy Camp [Performed Live on Program]
Album: Speaking Louder than Before (p) 2008 BEC Recordings
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