Tim Sheppard, Zach Cheatham, and Eric Orson's "Waiting on a Whisper"

Songwriting wasn't exactly a group activity for Pastor Tim Sheppard. Most of the songs he’s written over the years have come while spending time alone with the Lord. Nevertheless, he was excited to start working with other writers when he was invited to a series of Gateway Worship group songwriting sessions.

One day last summer, Tim was grouped with Zach Cheatham and Eric Orson, fellow Gateway pastors who were also invited to the sessions. Before all the songwriting teams were partnered, Pastor Mark Harris opened the session with 1 Kings 19:11–12. God appeared to Elijah, not in the wind, earthquake, or fire, but in a whisper. Mark asked everyone to consider writing a song about the way God spoke to Elijah. He suggested the title, “Waiting on a Whisper.”

As the teams split up, Zach grabbed a guitar, and Tim, Eric, and he made their way to a room with a keyboard. Tim and Zach started playing different progressions and rhythms as they all experimented with melodies and lyric ideas. They kept returning to the account of Elijah, and the idea of waiting through all the craziness of life for a word from God. Then, Zach happened to mention he’d written a bridge but had never been able to build anything around it. As he began to sing, “I will wait for You / I will not forget Your promises,” Eric and Tim latched onto it, and ideas for the verse and chorus started coming. “I know that with one single word from God, everything changes,” says Tim. After that, the song fell together with ease in less than an hour.

Then, all three started wondering if the chorus lyrics needed something more than the repetitive “Your words are life to me / Your words are all I need.” So, they tried to rewrite the chorus but kept coming back to the original. “There was just something so powerful in the simplicity,” Tim says. “And we thought, We’re going to mess this up if we get too complicated with it.

After submitting the song to others, Tim expected to hear, “You could put more into that.” However, everyone who heard the song came to the same conclusion: simple is powerful. “In today’s busy and noisy culture, we have constant input from many other voices,” says Eric. “And we often neglect to seek first the most important voice, our Heavenly Father.” 

Now, these lyrics serve as a reminder of the purity of God’s message. Their simplicity is packed with power for every Christian’s daily walk. “There is one thing that’s bubbled to the surface over the years in my relationship with the Lord,” says Tim. “The most valuable gift we can cultivate in our lives is the ability to hear Him. It’s that simple.” 

 

Waiting on a Whisper,” the title track from Gateway’s Created to Be devotional album, is available on iTunes.