A Gift He Couldn't Keep

Song: "My Life Is in You, Lord"


"For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory" (Col. 3:3-4).

One Sunday afternoon in the mid-1980s, Dan Gardner knew he needed something, but little did he realize what God was about to give him. He gave him something he couldn't keep. And he truly didn't keep it, because it was a popular Christian song that has traveled around the world.

Dan Gardner was born in 1956 into the home of Leonard and Anna Rose Gardner, founders of the church where he is presently the worship leader-Zion Christian Church, in Troy, Michigan. He is one of four children, all of whom are musical.

In a preacher's home, Dan was face-to-face with the issue of knowing Christ, almost on a daily basis. Therefore it was natural for him to become a Christian at an early age. He was led to the Lord at age seven or eight; he doesn't remember the exact year.

Gardner graduated from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, in 1988 with a major in music. He said, "I crammed four years into ten while working full-time." I asked Dan to tell me exactly how he wrote "My Life Is in You, Lord," and he shared the following story:

"In the mid-l980s, my wife, Joanne, my two daughters, and I were living at my wife's parents' home while our house was being built. I was raising a family, going to college full-time, and was the full-time worship leader at Zion Church. It was amazing to me that my wife could endure that kind of schedule. God bless her!

"On Sunday afternoon, after leading the worship for two Sunday morning services, I sat down to do some homework for my college music composition class. I barely had time enough to complete the assignment and still have time to prepare to lead the worship in the evening service.

"I felt so pressed by the hands of the clock, and I felt a real need for added energy. I knew it would help me if I would relax and wait on God. I sat down at the piano and began to play and sing spontaneously to the Lord, as I often had done during just such a time. As I was playing and singing, suddenly from my heart came, ‘My life is in You, Lord.' The words and a melody kept coming until the whole of a song was given to me. It took a very short time. I was blessed! I don't recall if I sang it at the service that night, but if not, I'm sure I sang it shortly thereafter.

"As one of the Lord's worship leaders, I have sought to find that place of abandoning the control of my life to Him. I am still learning to trust Him completely. I know that when I do, He graces me with the strength of His presence in my life. I know that I cannot glorify Him with my life apart from the power of His Spirit to do so."

Zion Church published "My Life Is in You, Lord," in 1985, and sometime later Integrity recorded it on a project featuring Joseph Garlington. Dan told me, "It really began to have a wide audience after that."

Dan continues to write songs occasionally. He feels blessed to see such a proliferation of writers with songs coming out of the praise and worship movement. He said, "It is difficult to keep up with all of the great material coming our way-a wonderful outpouring!" A couple of other songs that Dan has written that have been widely sung are "Exalt the Lord Our God" and "Blessed Be the Rock." Thanks, Dan, for "My Life Is in You, Lord"; it is one of my favorites. I love the repeated listing of the words life, strength, and hopethat we have in our Lord.

And in return we praise Him with all of our lives.

Can you think of anything more comforting than to come to the full realization that our very beings are engulfed in the heavenly Father through His precious Son? "In him we live, and move, and have our being. For we are also his offspring" (Acts 17:28).

© 2008 by Lindsay Terry. Used by permission.

Lindsay Terry has been a song historian for more than 40 years, and has written widely on the background of great hymns and worship songs including the books I Could Sing of Your Love Forever (2008), from which this piece is excerpted, and The Sacrifice of Praise (2002).

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