The Story Behind the Song "You are my Solid Rock" and the man who wrote it: Chris Rhodes
What inspired you to write this song?
-Spring Semester of my sophomore year of college was a season of life that stretched me a lot physically, mentally, and spiritually. I had just declared my major to specialize in songwriting, I was driving an hour and a half every weekend to lead worship at a small church in Rocky Mount, Virginia, and I had just met a girl named Katie who 2 years later would become my wife. I found myself often times overwhelmed by these natural transitions of life, and I was often praying for strength. I felt weak at times and was relying on the Lord more than I ever had. I
I had a goal to have a new song written every week in time to show my songwriting professor and mentor, Don Marsh, for our weekly lesson. I sat down one night in my dorm room on the eve of my next lesson trying to come up with something to write. I could not come up with anything and I was getting extremely tired so I just started singing worship songs. It was about a half an hour in that I started singing the familiar chorus: “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” Those lyrics really resonated with me that night so I looked up the lyrics to the rest of the song. I began to just sing the beginnings of what became the song “You Are My Solid Rock.” The message is extremely simple, and very familiar, but it is one that everyone can resonate with.
How long was the songwriting process?
-I wrote the song in one night, in one sitting in about an hour and a half. I probably have changed a word here and there since then, but the bulk was written that night in my dorm room.
When/where/to who did you first share this song and what was their reaction?
As you have led this song in various places, how have people responded?
-I first shared this song with Don Marsh in his office at Liberty University. He really liked the singable chorus coupled with an even more familiar bridge.
As I have led this song in various places, it is incredible how fast people catch onto this song. The message of the song resonates, and the chorus is easy to catch for anyone of any age. It is a great multigenerational worship song.
What does this song mean to you?
-The song means quite a bit to me personally. As soon as I begin singing the song I immediately think back to that time in my life when I wrote it. It was a time no different than now, when I had to lean completely on the Lord for pretty much everything. The song is a proclamation of where I place my hope during every circumstance: In Jesus. “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.”
What do you hope it means to others?
-I hope it encourages other believers to place their hope and trust in Jesus as opposed to anything else in their life. It is so easy in the midst of our busy lives to become distracted by the struggles we go through. The more we focus on the struggle, the bigger the struggle seems, but the more we focus on the hope we have in Jesus, the easier it is to realize that there is nothing that the Lord cannot get us through. There is no miracle too hard for our God.
Where did you grow up?
-I grew up in Waco, TX, and lived there until I went to college at Liberty.
Testimony/when did you accept Christ?
-I was very blessed to have had the gospel spoon fed to me from birth. I am also blessed to have parents that taught me right from wrong based on what the Bible said. My dad is a worship pastor at my church, so I also grew up going to church all the time. I was what you would call a Sunday school brat. I was often exposed to Bible stories and was always reminded of what Jesus had done for me.
When I was seven years old, my family went to a musical called “The Promise” in Glen Rose, Texas. This musical portrayed the life of Christ in a way that I had never seen it before. At the end of the musical, they gave an invitation, and although I never said anything then and there, I knew I needed to invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life. On the drive home from the musical I was able to verbalize to my parents my need for Jesus. So right then and there, somewhere between Glen Rose, Texas and Waco, Texas (my hometown), my parents led me in a prayer to receive Christ. Seven years old is very young to understand fully just what Jesus did for mankind, but it was simple enough inside my mind that Jesus had died so that I may live and that if I believed that with all my heart, then I would receive eternal life.
When did your love for worship/songwriting begin?
-My love for leading worship began my sophomore year of high school. I had just turned 16 years old and my Youth Pastor asked me to lead worship for the youth group. I did that for the next 2 years until I graduated. My senior year of high school I began to write songs and lead them in my youth group. I loved the idea of giving believers a voice in their worship of the Lord by writing songs for where I felt we were as a group. I became passionate about it and have been writing ever since.
Tell us about the journey that the Lord brought you on while becoming a worship leader:
-Long story short, when I was a sophomore in high school, my youth minister wanted to start having a consistent worship leader and worship band. So he observed a number of different combinations of students leading in worship to see who worked together the best. One day, he asked if I could come to his office and meet with him. He asked me then if I would be the worship leader for the youth group for the time being. I told him that I would although I did not know a whole lot about it.
My dad (Worship Pastor) began to teach me different things about how to effectively lead a congregation in worship. I had to learn a lot of things on the job. I was in charge of getting the band together week after week and rehearsing them as well as leading out on Sunday morning.
That January of my Junior year I attended a weekend retreat with my youth group. One of the nights of worship, I remember falling to my knees and just crying my eyes out. I knew right then and there that God was calling me to lead his people in worship for the rest of my life. This scared me because the last thing I ever wanted to do with my life was become a worship leader. I had watched my dad do that my whole life, and I wanted to do something different. I knew that God had a plan for my life, but I never dreamed it would involve leading worship. After that weekend, there has never been a doubt in my mind. I knew that my life’s calling was to bring people before the throne of God in complete surrender to Him.
The more I led worship, the more I learned. I learned how to deal with volunteer musicians as well as keep their (and my) eyes on the Lord at all times.
One day, I got a call from my school, and they were wondering if I could put together a worship band to lead for their chapel services every Thursday afternoon. After that, not only was I leading in my youth group, but also I had the privilege of leading my peers in school in worship every Thursday. I continued to grow in the Lord and seek Him in all things.
That summer I was able to help lead in the family services at Highland Baptist Church. I also was able to lead worship in Chicago on a mission trip. It was truly a blessing to be able to do this.
Right before my senior year of high school, I got a job as an Audio/Visual Tech Assistant at HBC. This was great because not only did I know how to lead worship and rehearse a rhythm section, but also I began to learn about how to run sound and lighting.
I continued to lead worship for my youth group and help out in the family services that fall, but my main focus was now becoming college. My entire life I had wanted to attend Baylor University (In Waco, TX) because it was in my hometown, and I was in love with their sports programs. Something inside of me knew that I would not be able to attend Baylor because they did not have what God was calling me to do in my life. I voiced this to my dad and he began to do some research on what schools were putting out great worship leaders these days and Liberty University came up on his radar. He told me about Liberty, and so I looked up the worship program online and was truly in awe. I didn’t think there was any way a school could be that perfect for what my passion was. My dad suggested that we visit Liberty in January of my Senior year.
So we ended up coming and visiting Liberty for several days. I absolutely loved it, and could not believe that it was real. Then came the hardest decision of my life. I asked myself if I was ready to sacrifice my dream of attending Baylor and living close to my family for what I knew the Lord was calling me to do. In the end, I had to do it. So I took a leap of faith and went to Liberty University. It was amazing to be apart of what God was doing (and is still doing) at Liberty. He is doing marvelous things and will do many more. I feel so incredibly blessed to have been shaped by such incredible professors and church leaders while there.
After graduating, my wife, Katie, and I had the opportunity to serve this last year in Memphis, TN at Bellevue Baptist Church as a worship leader. It was an awesome experience that continued to shape me as a worship leader and songwriter.
My wife and I have recently just moved to Jackson, MS to join the worship staff at First Baptist Church of Jackson, where I will continue to lead worship and write songs for church to sing.
What’s going on in your life now? Still songwriting? Serving as a worship pastor?
-Absolutely! We currently live in Jackson. MS. I am serving as an Associate Worship Pastor on staff at FBC Jackson. I still songwrite any chance that I get either by making a spontaneous trip to Nashville, skype, or just in the private of my home alone with the Lord.
What book has God used in your life this year?
-The last book I read was “The Way Of The Shephard” by Kevin Leman and Bill Pentak. It is a fantastic book.
Is there a verse or passage that the Lord has been using in your life this year?
I recently memorized the passage Psalm 37:4-11. The Lord has used it in my life a lot this past year. It says:
“Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing
For evildoers will be cut off,
But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.
Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more;
And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there.
But the humble will inherit the land
And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.”
If there was one word of encouragement that you could offer to the body of Christ today, what would it be?
-Never let your ministry for Christ become more important to you than your relationship with Christ. These two things are different, and the ministry comes as an overflow from the relationship. The Lord has been teaching me this in the past year and I think as believers we often get these things mixed up. Keep your relationship with God and the time you spend with Him first before everything!
At the end of the day what do you hope others will come to know and understand about Christ?
-My prayer for every human being is that they are able to understand just how deep their need for God goes. At the bottom of who we are, we are sinners in need of a Savior. If people can understand our condition as sinners in need, they will be ready to embrace Jesus for who He is in relationship to them. Praise the Lord we have this hope!
“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil,”