Since 1989, my music ministry has carried me throughout the southeastern United States, sharing my testimony, original songs, and a few personal favorites. It has also been carried out by and large without most of the trappings which usually accompany artists, namely fame, radio singles, Dove awards, etc.; I’ve pretty much flown under the radar, with most of my performances taking place in smaller churches, before audiences that no doubt spend the first few songs wondering just who the goofy looking guy with the oversized head onstage is.
Do I mind? I did at first, but Scripture admonishes us to be content in whatever state we may find ourselves, and once I realized that the record companies weren’t exactly beating a path to my door, and that perhaps I wasn’t destined to be the next Steven Curtis Chapman, I determined to make the most of the universe I found myself in. Before I knew it, ten years had passed, and I found myself remaining quite busy, writing songs, recording new music, maintaining a year round concert schedule, and carving out a niche as “the best singer you’ve never heard of” (well, the jury’s out on that whole “best” part, but you get the idea).
Then just as I was really getting comfortable, I was sidelined, the victim of throat problems that settled in, took hold, and refused both diagnosis and treatment. For the next three years, I was unable to sing above a whisper. I lost my talent, my ministry, and my vocation in one fell swoop. As unprepared as I was for these unexpected twists, I was even less prepared for the emotional and spiritual depression that followed. I found myself in a hole from which there seemed to be no escape, and before it was over I found myself entertaining suicidal thoughts. To say that my life was a frightening place to be would be an understatement at best.
But God never left my side, and over time I began to understand what He was up to. He began to really speak to my heart, not through rumbling thunder or earth shattering mountaintop revelations, but as He so often does, through the still small voice…everyday occurrences, unexpected encounters, and people who made a difference in my life by their very presence.
Over the course of the next two years, I began to see where I had gone wrong. I had managed to avoid affairs, drug addiction, or alcohol abuse, and I thought I was doing a pretty good job of keeping my nose clean. But being hopelessly ensnared in this whole “humanity” thing, I still managed to mess things up. I had grown complacent, running on auto pilot, looking to other things besides God for fulfillment and joy, my marriage, my children, my music. In short, I was crowding God on the throne of my heart with other things….and I wasn’t even aware I was doing it.
Sin in our lives is bad enough, because it separates us from God’s presence and His blessings, but what’s even worse is the sin that we aren’t even aware of. We don’t even realize it’s happening, but the end result is the same.
It took some time for me to realize that God had systematically removed everything that was getting between me and Him, and He brought me to the point where the question was asked “Is my grace sufficient for you?”
For me there is no better example of just how awesome and mighty God is, than the fact that he would take so much time to discipline, mature, and ultimately bless such a wayward child. I’ve heard it said that God loves us too much to allow us to remain spiritually immature. I will gladly testify as to the validity of this statement, and I will offer myself as Exhibit A.
While I was off the road, and “on the bench”, I started a weekly newsletter, sent out through the modern miracle of the internet. At first it started as simple prayer requests, but after a time (and as the list grew), I tried to incorporate some inspiration, some humor, something to give to my ministry friends beyond just endlessly repeated calls for prayer, hopefully something to make their day a little better.
As time went by, I started getting suggestions that these musings might make good material for a book. I resisted the idea for a time, although I love to write. But as things progressed, the book comments grew too numerous to ignore. So I figured I should at least take the idea out for a test drive.
I don’t know what you may be facing on your own road, but it is my prayer that you will find some measure of encouragement, a lifting of the spirit, or maybe just a good belly laugh in this blog (but boredom is not allowed). God reveals Himself through so much, in the least likely of places, and in ways many folks never stop and see.