Have you ever heard a song or read a poem only to later hear the story behind it and have it take on so much more meaning? There's a gospel song I love called God Of The Mountain and the lyrics go like this: For the God on the mountain is still God in the valley / When things go wrong, he'll make them right / And the God of the good times is still God in the bad times / The God of the day is still God in the night.
No matter how often I hear this song, I feel the life and truth and power of it. And I never get tired of it. But after talking with my good friend, Lynda Randle who wrote the song, and after hearing her story of overcoming, that song has taken on a whole new meaning for me.
Lynda Randle is a Dove Award-winning singer and songwriter who has used music as a way out of the pain and heartache she's experienced. Until my conversation with her on Overcome With Auntie Anne, I didn't know her "valley" that the song mentions. But now I understand why she sings it. She sings about what God has done in her life--through all the struggles, the pain, the abuse, the heartaches, the bullying--and she sings it so well.
Listen to the podcast to hear my entire conversation with Lynda Randle and her story of overcoming, or keep reading below for some of the highlights.
Family life growing up
Lynda Randle grew up in Washington D.C. in the Tait family. Lynda's parents had a bad relationship before she was born. In fact, her oldest brother was the only child for 15 years. But one day, her dad came to know Jesus in a taxi cab, and God not only changed his life but Lynda's mom and oldest brother's lives too. (You can read the whole story in Lynda's book, The Cab Driver's Daughter). Her parents had been separated, but God brought them back together, restored their relationship, and they had six more kids after that!
Lynda remembers growing up in a close-knit family. Although they weren't wealthy, they made it a point of doing things together, like going to the beach for a week every summer in Ocean City Maryland, attending family reunions, and going to McDonald's or having a fish fry on Friday nights. And they were in church all the time and had family devotions around the table every night.
Lynda says she wouldn't have wanted to grow up in any other family. "There were so many struggles growing up, even in the home and even amongst the Tait family. But because those struggles have proved to work so much good in and through my life, I wouldn’t want to be born in any other family." Lynda's family life shaped her and set her up to become the person she is today.
Personal life growing up
Growing up, Lynda describes herself as a fighter and a peacemaker. She never picked fights on purpose but was always ready to defend people, especially her siblings. If she ever saw someone picking on them, or there was a fight, Lynda would step in as their protector. She says she "would go to bat for them."
As a protector and a peacemaker, she loved people. At her childhood home in Washington D.C., she lived across the street from a pimp named Bobby and some women who were prostitutes. One day, when Lynda was 12 years old, she went over to that house and was sitting with one of the women named June. She remembers asking June why she let Bobby beat up on her. (She could sometimes hear it happening or even see it happen from the porch of her house). June said it was because Bobby loved her. But Lynda understood that that wasn't love and said that to June. She told June that God had plans for her life and that she should find a better life. Even at 12, Lynda was aware of what was happening in someone else's house and the protector and peacemaker in her wanted this woman to be out of the situation she was in.
Struggles while growing up
Lynda's desire to protect others, though, didn't shield her from having struggles of her own. For instance, she was a "very developed" and "shapely" 12 year old, and Bobby the pimp would make comments to her even at that young age. And Lynda was also abused by a female family member for a number of years. All of this made her question things about sexuality, about how God made her and designed her, and about what her purpose in life was supposed to be.
She didn't like herself and would try to "buy her friends" by getting extra candy or chips for them when she went to the store. As she says, "I just wanted to be loved. I wanted to be liked because I just didn't know who I was at that time."
Lynda even ran away from home because of the pain she was in. She didn't know at the time that was why she was running. And she didn't understand the extent to which she had been wounded and how deep those wounds actually went. She said she "needed to escape whatever it was that [she] was feeling."
Lynda has grown daughters of her own now, and she recently shared with her daughter, Joy, some of what she went through growing up. Although God has restored her relationships with her siblings, and she loves them today, she shared how there were times they would gang up on her. One time, one of them locked her in a suitcase trunk. Things like this lead her to have feelings of abandonment and being left alone. At times, she would have thoughts like, "Why don't I just take my life? Because if I do, then I can punish those people who have hurt me."
As she shared all of this with Joy, Joy started weeping for Lynda. But she was weeping for the little girl Lynda who went through all of this. Nobody had ever done that before. Nobody had ever cried for little Lynda. Joy told her mom how sorry she was that those things happened to her, and she held Lynda as Lynda cried too.
I agree with Lynda when she says that something is missing today, not just in the church, but in the world. "We need to weep for the little girl and for the little boy that was wounded, and we need to help these people through."
I had never heard this part of Lynda's story before, but I'm so glad she shared it because I'm sure there are some of you who are reading this blog who have been wounded as little girls and little boys, and you carry that wound. Maybe hearing this part of Lynda's story takes you back, and I just want to encourage you to find a friend to share it with and ask them to cry with you. Ask them to cry for that little girl or boy that went through whatever it was you went through. Because there's freedom in sharing our story as you'll see below.
There were two, pivotal, life-changing moments for Lynda. The first moment happened when she was 16. She had recently switched schools and was attending a Christian school where she heard a missionary speak. Afterward, she decided she wanted to completely surrender her life to Jesus, and since that moment, she started spending time with God every day. It's become her desire to do whatever his desire is--to do his will.
The second life-changing moment happened when she was 26 years old and was getting ready to be married. She went to see her doctor, Dr. Carter, who was a Christian doctor that used to attend her church. As she was preparing to go through some tests and exams, Lynda broke down right there on the table, and she started telling Dr. Carter everything that happened to her growing up. For Lynda, this was the beginning of her healing.
When she told her soon-to-be husband what happened, he said that no matter what had happened to her, she was still his "virgin." And Lynda thinks this is how God sees us. Regardless of what we've been through--the struggles, the bad things we've done or that have been done to us, whatever it may be--God still sees us as perfect.
Lynda Randle today
Today, outside of her relationship with the Lord, Lynda's greatest joy comes from spending time with her family--her husband and two daughters--and serving other people. She is a woman who knows that the God on the mountain is still the God in the valley. I encourage you to go listen to Lynda sing her song, God On The Mountain, now that you've heard her story, and let the lyrics wash over you and speak truth to your heart.
You can learn more about Lynda by going to lyndarandle.com. She and her brother, Michael Tait, frontman for Newsboys, are doing a "Together For Christmas" tour during the 2021 Christmas season, so be sure to check that out. She's also written multiple books. I already mentioned one, The Cab Driver's Daughter, but there's also What's So Great About Mama's Plate and God On The Mountain.