Discovering the Art of Stopping: Blizzards and Coffee

7:30am. I am sat in Brussels Airport. The plane I want to catch is delayed and  outside the clouds seem to be merging in with all that I can see like artwork as snowflakes gently caress the window I lean against. My eyes are tired and the pane of glass is cold as I feel my cheekbone numbing whilst I struggle to find somewhere to wait. The smell of freshly brewed coffee doesn’t do anything to enlighten the atmosphere of weary and dishevelled passengers. Even the constant smiles of the air hosts appears to be waning as the second day of delays seems to bring Europe to its knees. Yet I find myself smiling for probably the first time in a situation like this. Don’t get me wrong, I am an incredibly impatient person and waiting for anything usually sets my frustration levels into overdrive. But as I return from my yearly adventure to Uganda, I am finally beginning to learn the beauty of stopping.

There is nothing quite like travel. Do it right and you can encounter the wonderful privilege of perceiving the world through an entire different lens. To escape the humdrum of UK life and discover that 9-5 work doesn’t exist everywhere is bliss. This time was no different. Spending 9 days with my Ugandan family and remembering that life doesn’t always have to be ‘doing’ is so freeing. Africa never seems to operate very fast, I have spent many times waiting to go somewhere, only for the people I am with to not leave for another two hours. At times it is frustrating but it also incredibly challenging to the constant whirring that my life seems to produce. I’m being forced to stop and breathe…..


Interwoven with the precious time with family community, I ended up finding myself reading the gospel of Mark. Early on in Mark, Jesus says “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). The Sabbath was a period from Friday evening until Saturday evening where Jews had a day of rest. As you continue through the book, Jesus constantly retreats from ministry to stop, pause and pray.  Jesus knew the importance of stopping. The remarkable thing I find, is that the  sabbath, the art of stopping, wasn’t designed for Gods benefit but for our own according to Jesus. We aren’t programmed to operate like machinery, constantly running 24/7.

But our culture doesn’t really do stopping, we work hard and play even harder, social media means that we are almost expected to be available 24-7 and it always feels there are demands, albeit good ones, for my time and attention. It’s only when I stop that I often realise how tired I am, not just physically but mentally and spiritually as well. How many times have I got to the end of term and felt physically, emotionally and spiritually burnt out. Even when I do stop and “crash,” I feel guilty that I haven’t been productive and have wasted a day. I wonder if you ever feel the same? Yet the past few months, I’ve tried to embed the idea of Sabbath in my life, to see if Jesus had a point. The art of stopping to rest and not do anything, it’s alot harder than it seems…

I love doing stuff, my old vicar used to say to me that I had ten great ideas for the day before breakfast. There are so many things I want to do, travel, write a book, write an album, become fitter, coach and play football, become a better photographer, the list goes on. There are always so many people that I say “lets catch up” only to find my diary is saturated. Maybe you feel the same? But as I have tried to intentioanlly stop, I’ve noticed that a few things have happened. Firstly, I’m physically less tired, I’m able to be more effective for the rest of the week and avoid the constant burnout I used to experience at the end of every term. Secondly, there is something powerful in not doing anything and just ‘being.’ It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that we are definded by the things that we do, stopping forces us to start to know that we are loved as we are. Being Dave Smith is enough…

Thirdly, I’ve found its given me time to spend time reordering my life around my relationship with God, rather than the other way around. I can’t stress enough how incredibly different I am when God is central in my life. I worry less, am more content with who I am and often have greater courage and perserverance through whatever life throws at me. As I have done these things it has impacted my wider life, giving me more energy and focus and probably most importantly, the realisation that God doesn’t rush at 100mph and nor should I. I’ve found I’ve had more time to give to people I meet in my everyday and to not hold on too tightly to the anxieties that life inundates us with.

The only way I can describe it is like swimming underwater for a very long time and then coming up to breathe. It’s not some magic formula that always equates to a better more refreshed Dave, but the more I do it, the more I feel I am walking a rhythm that is sustainable and keeps my eyes on what is important.

My challenge for 2018 is to try and find time each week to spend time ‘switching off,’ for me that means switching off my phone, grabbing some space in the stillness of nature and spending time not rushing about from event to event. It might not be for a whole day, but as I have started to do this, sometimes just for an afternoon, it has felt like taking in a big breath of air. So as I sat in the chaos of delayed aircraft, coffee and blizzards, I was grafteful for the time to pause, stop… and breathe.

Will you join me? Maybe the sabbath was created for us after all?









When the Waves of Life

17 Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

Habakkuk 3:17-18

Sometimes life hits you full on in the face and you were somewhat expecting it, sometimes it hits you from nowhere. It was during one of these times that I wrote this song, almost 10 years ago. Over the years it has become one of those songs I keep coming back to when I find myself trudging the valleys of life and to also remind me of the faithfulness of God. 

When I was younger my family used to have a stationary caravan down in Swanage, Dorset. Situated less than a ten minute walk to the beach, it was a constant source of joy summer after summer. It also became a place of still and quiet when you needed to get away, a place of refuge. It was one of those times when we had just lost my Gran, one of the inspirational people in my story of faith. It was a tough time for family, a tough time for me and so I decided to take my guitar and keys down to the caravan to grab some space.

One morning I decided to get up really early and sit and watch the sunrise on the beach. As the sun rose, the whole bay was kissed in this incredible array of deep oranges and reds, reflecting off the cliffs like a mirror. It was as I sat and watched those colours that those words “You are the light, that lights my way” were imprinted on my heart. Here, in the midst of chaos internally I was reminded of the stillness and power of God.

The song captured this intertwining moment of despair and hope. A deep cry of the heart that despite the wind and waves I will fix my eyes on God, I will praise him through the storm.

But it is a deep and honest cry.

For it is easy to say praise and trust God when the storm comes, far more difficult to actually do it. That’s the story of this song, not a bold statement of overcoming fear, but a wrestle with the soul to fix its eyes on God and to dare to hope. It echoes the same battle that Peter had when he walked on water in Matthew 14. It’s all too easy to only see the wind and waves surrounding us and forget the presence of God altogether – or at least I do. Throughout that particular storm, this song gave a voice to the tired and weary, yet hopeful heart.

Over the years I have returned to this song in my deepest and darkest moments as a prayer, an anthem to try and arrest the decline of my heart and to look upward at God, not the waves. It’s always reminded me of the hope I have in God and I hope too, if you find yourself in the ‘storms’ that life throws at us, that it might encourage and comfort you. It has meant a great deal to me. For God is the light that lights our way and the rock that stands strong when all else fails. I’ve lived through too many storms to know any different.


You are the Light

David Smith

When the waves of life come crashing in

When all my world comes caving in

When fear surrounds, Lord still I’ll praise

For I know my God you reign


For you are the Light that lights my way

You are the hope in me

When all my world is washed away

You are the rock that remains


And I will praise You Lord, 

praise You through this storm again

I will praise You Lord


When I walk through my darkest days

When all the light seems to fade away

When all my fear has reached its peak

I’ll come to you, the God of Peace


Through all sorrow, all fear

You are my hope Lord draw me near

In every circumstance you reign

You are my God, You’ve always been




“Scarred by Storms”

I love peoples stories, every one of us has a unique experience of where we have got to in life, a rich tapestry of wisdom, joy and pain. But there are things that are true of every story, there is hope, there is life and there are also those unexpected hurricanes that stop us in our path. It is this rich kaleidoscope of experiences that make us who we are. For me, it is no different.

I’m currently walking in the midst of one of the most amazing seasons of my life, I feel more alive than I have ever done. Yet I have also walked, stumbled and crawled through the two most painful years of my life, barely breathing and never believing I could get back to the joy of life I had experienced before. As I have journeyed through the hills and valleys of life I have crafted and created some songs that speak into those moments and have, at times, got me through some of most difficult moments of my life. Throughout every season I have seen God at work in both me and the lives around me.

My hope is to share some of these songs and reflections I have had throughout the various seasons I have encountered, that they might speak into someone else’s life. Whether that be through the deepest and darkest moments of life or the mountain top experience. My hope too is that they might bring you closer to God, whatever season you are in.







Overcoming Fear

“Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.””

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭3:22‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I’m stood in the middle of a field, palms are sweaty and the sound of my breath echoes around my head as of I’m standing in a cave filled with never-ending reverb. I clutch my weapon for the afternoon and can feel my heart pounding as the taste of fear pierces my dry mouth. Not to sound dramatic but this is how I often feel when I play cricket, about to bat for the first time in a year. I’m often gripped by fear thinking what if I get out or let my team down – don’t look stupid Dave.

Or at least that’s how I normally feel. I wouldn’t say I normally hear from God about to play sport but today was somewhat different. I wasn’t feeling too great, I’d been horribly ill the day before, and I’d come into the day on some bad news – the sort of news that you didn’t really want to hear and that you hoped would never come. I sat on the sideline dejected waiting for the opportunity to go and out and bat. It was there that I decided that due to the mitigating factors of life I’m not going to worry about getting out but instead play without fear – for what is fearing in cricket compared to the great meandering journey of life. Who knew that this very process God would use to challenge me.

I strode out to the wicket and played without fear. First ball I noticed the confidence in my stance. Third ball I hit to the boundary for my first four in what feels like a lifetime – I notice I feel more free than I have in long time whilst someone is throwing a hard leather ball at you trying to knock over three pieces of wood behind you. Quite remarkably I ended up hitting my best knock since secondary school and left the field unbeaten at the end of the innings. As I left the field I was quite amazed at the feeling of freedom of lacking fear and amazed at the result – it was there that God spoke to me so clearly, something that happens rarely. I suddenly felt challenged into why I lived with so much fear in my own life, far above the microcosm of a cricket field. For in cricket when I’m scared I become tepid and weak and I suddenly realised its the same for life. I felt God ask me why do I live with so much fear in my life when all it does is cripples and limits the gifts He has given me. It was there I was reminded that some of the most used words in the Bible are ‘Do not be afraid’ because we know that God is with us.

I realise that I get scared about too many things (one of them ironically is admitting that I’m scared of admitting that I’m scared) – whether it be what does the future hold? or what do people thinking of me? Will this issue be resolved or what job should I be doing? But I know from experience that when I’m confident in God rather than being crippled by fear and failure I do my best wok for him. I’m painfully aware that as a younger Christian I was amazed at what God did because I had less fear – but as I’ve become broken and Scarred through the challenges of life it has caused me to change. But perhaps like my performance in cricket I need to stop, remember that God is with me  and instead of worrying what may happen if I fail, be prepared to to step up and be amazed by what God does rather than remain bound by fear. It was this that God challenged to change right there as I left the field.  It reminds me of the story of the spies in the bible Moses sent into the promised land – most of the spies came back and said the enemy was too great. Only Joshua and Caleb lifted their eyes to God and saw he was bigger and looked what happened – it wasn’t easy but if they hadn’t of done that Isareal might never have made it to the promised land.

It doesn’t mean that we will always be successful if we lose our fear – but there is a freedom to fully express ourselves in  all that God has made us to be and when we step out in faith, no matter how hard it is, we know God is with us. I so often forget how powerful our God is and that so often my biggest failing as a Christian isn’t knowing that God is strong – it’s letting that truth seep into the actions of my life. One of my favourite pastors once said

“Better to step out in faith and get it wrong than always wonder”

Much love



Windscreen Wipers and Broken Dreams

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭119:105‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

It’s New Year’s Eve and it’s raining. In fact it’s not just raining, it’s absolutely tipping it down. I’m driving along when all of a sudden disaster strikes. The windscreen wipers stop working. For anyone that has ever experienced this, they will realise that this is terrifying when you are driving along at 60mph – the heavens raining down like sub-machine gun fire. The problem is that instead of being able to see through your windscreen, all you can see is water galloping across it like wild horses. The only thing I can see are the little cats eyes on the road, one by one peering out like tiny candles swamped by darkness. Each cats eye represents a marker that we are one step closer to home.

This last year has been an interesting year for me – I came into 2015 brimming with hope that my whole life was set out before me. I had plans, plans to give me a future and a hope. Good, noble and Christian plans. The only problem was that 2015 saw my plans, in many different ways, seemingly fade away from my grasp. I felt as if the windscreen wipers of my life had suddenly broken and I could barely see a yard in front of me. I wonder if you have ever felt like this?

I don’t for one minute advocate driving with your wind screen wipers broken but as I journeyed I felt God remind me of a certain truth. God so often only shows us the next step, the next cats eye on the road of life if you like. As I drove, my trust in the small flickers of light on the road increased dramatically as I tried to stay on track. They were all I had. It’s the same with faith. In the adventure of following God he so often only shows us the next step in life, calling us to trust him alone whilst the rest of our view seems distorted and confused. It’s scary, it’s hard and I certainly would much rather see the future clearly so that I would be comfortable – just like last year. But, as this year has gone, it has somehow called me into a deeper trust of God.

In our heads I think we know that God has good plans for all of us, he loves to give good gifts. But over all his gifts he longs for our hearts to trust him, to walk this life with him. Believing and actually doing that is hard. It reminds me of Abraham, God promised him he would be the father of a great nation and yet God called him to sacrifice his only son – something that would humanly take away the promise God had given him. Why? To see if Abraham truly would trust him. Of course we know God stopped him from doing it – but Abraham didn’t know that.

I don’t know if you ever had to let go of something that you longed for. Not even let go, but had it wrestled out of your hands. I’ve found myself shedding tears, getting angry with God or simply doubting he is there at all.

“Why me?”

“But I thought this was right?”

But as we let go we have two choices, to give up, or to trust that God, the giver of life, has our best interests at heart. Sometimes he has to take our hopes away so that they won’t consume us.

The only thing I can relate to is that one time in my life I was consumed by football. It was all I ever thought about and loved. My life was built on it. Then one year God took it all away – I got injured  – and that dream died. But looking back God took the dream of football away so that I could enjoy it without it consuming me. For it had consumed me. Now I love it more than ever and yet am not bound to it. God knew what he was doing.

Its in that place that I find myself again. But I’m trying to trust God and look out for every cats eye that comes my way.  It’s hard, painful and confusing at times. I still feel I’m along way from home but there is deep joy in knowing that when you give your dreams and your heart to God he will never let you down. It’s this that I’m holding on to.

As I drove  I felt God whisper ‘Will you trust me, even when you cannot see?’

I think he asks the same to us all.

God must take away the heaven we create or otherwise it will become our hell’ John Eldredge

Love wins

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 ESV)

I’m surrounded by people who I know are loved so much yet they don’t see it. I see the friend who suffers with depression and know they are loved. I see the person who struggled with self worth and know that they are loved. I see the person who is in so much pain and know they are loved. I see the homeless man who appears to have mucked everything up and know they are loved. I’ve held the aids orphan who is just a statistic to the world and know they are loved. I know this because Jesus came and died to make a way for us to be with God who is love. That very act was love and it is open to all.

I am hurting and I am a broken man. Life isn’t easy and life is confusing. Yet love rises above that. What can we do but love? In a broken world where people hurt one another and we try and stick to societies standards of looking good and being somebody aren’t we all just after love.

For love conquers evil. Love conquers pain. Love conquers heartbreak. Love conquered death. God is love and love wins.

Friends it’s hard to love, especially when pain surrounds and fear is present. But love wins over these all things. Love wins over the many things we chase in life to fulfil that craving. All we can do is love. Love is not weak it is strong and it is our weapon in a hurting world. Even as I’m sat here writing this my sister who lost her beloved horse yesterday just came in and asked if she could get me some toast before work. Love wins. It truly does.

I’m rubbish at it but my prayer is that as I learn more that God loves me and I come to love myself I become an expert at love. It’s not gushy or soppy. Love is sacrificial and worthy of any man or woman.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39 ESV)

Where would my faith be without Starbucks?

Im sat with a Starbucks cup in hand, the cream of my caramel hot chocolate gently beginning to caress the outside of my mug as it overflows and gently warms my fingers. The smell flirts with my senses as I go for another gulp and I’m now desperately trying to hide the fact I’ve now nose planted the cream full on. The awkward moment lasts a second as I expertly lick away the offending bit of cream – as you can tell I’ve still not quite perfected the art of drinking a hot drink through the cream mountain. But in truth this experience isn’t about me combating my drinking insecurities or maintaining my love of hot drinks, no matter how great the drink it doesn’t satisfy my being here. For what I’m after is the community that is facilitated by the simple venture to a Starbucks on a sunny afternoon.

For me there aren’t many things quite like the experience of sharing life with other people. As I sit and listen to the guy opposite a story emerges, like a painter painting on a blank canvas the fuller picture comes slightly more into view with every second I listen. As we share our dreams and our failures we stop to ponder the stories that we have painted so far, almost unaware that what we are describing is that in itself, a story. As we part our separate ways I’m left with a subtle smile on my face and an ever increasing thought echoes around my head – how glad I am God created us to be in community.

The journey of faith has almost become deeply personal, not by means of us being personal with God, but by how we integrate those journeys with other people. All too often we think that we can live it by ourselves, dismissing the need for others as a sign of weakness. Yet God never intended us to walk as lone rangers in the battle of faith and ive definitely learnt it is a battle. As I reflect on my own story I’m buoyed by the stories I hear from my fellow Christians. For in the storytelling I’ve learnt that encouragement and peace flow from those relationships I hold so dear. For every story I hear the same message comes back. God is faithful, God is the best option and his love never ends. These aren’t fairy tales either, for the stories I share and hear are laced with pain, confusion, hurt and doubt, of heartbreak, loss of life and personal insecurities. Yet still God has the victory and they are lifted by moments of joy, overcoming and the ability to cope in every situation because of a God who loves and sustains.

This is why I love community, because in those moments where life seems too much, where pain is all I see and I feel overwhelmed by life’s wind and waves there are people there who have shared the same stories but God has pulled them through. I can think of a few moments in my life where that has been the case and I’ve begrudgingly gone to some wise couples house and shared a meal. In my moment of weakness they share their journeys of hope and pain and proclaim that God is good through it all, he will see you through. In the same way when joy abounds and hope bursts through the same community celebrates together as one, celebrating the goodness of God. I remember Cycling the South Downs way and reaching a point where I felt I could no longer continue, the pain and the rain seemed too much. We passed an older man and as he shared his stories on the trail we were encouraged to hear that he had been through far worse in his journey and yet he had still completed his trek. It’s the same in the journey of faith. I often doubt God can pull me through the current situation or that I have the strength to overcome a difficulty – yet the stories of the people around me tell that through every hardship God sustains and pulls us through. Community brings hope even in the darkest of days.

Maybe that’s why we leave the safety of our beds and houses on a Sunday morning, or stay up later in the evening to meet with our fellow Christians. For when we gather together to sing songs, listen to the bible and share bacon sandwiches we are meeting as individuals with our own stories, hopes and fears, meeting together as one family in one big story, Gods story. For in his story we all have a part to play and we are all united in the truth that we are saved by God and that we are called to be in relationship with him as individuals and as a family. As we remind each other of that and share each others pain and joy as we seek to live out the story he has destined for us we can rejoice that we do not face this battle alone, but in the company of loving brothers and sisters. For ever story is significant and has a message to bring, from the lowest and to the greatest. Jesus preached to the masses but focused on the individuals. How often I think my story is a failure and is insignificant. Yet as I grow up and live alongside fellow Christians I’ve learnt that no-ones story is unimportant in the kingdom and to God. For every story brings a unique experience with its own wisdom and power to shape not just the storyteller, but the community that exists around them.