A few years ago, I found myself at work on a really hot, humid day that was filled with the stresses of deadlines, equipment that wouldn’t work and personnel that were hardly overjoyed with the list of “to do’s” for the day. My friend Charles started a conversation by asking me if I was going to retire from the company that we worked for. The question itself was innocent enough, but the timing was something different. You see, I was really at the bottom of a well of doubt, depression and confusion that day. I had been struggling with things that God had given me to do and had come to a point where it seemed like I was going nowhere. Looking back, it even seemed like I hadn’t really come all that far from where I had started. I suppose it was all due to the fact that somewhere along the line, I had decided that God’s plan for me to be in music and ministry wasn’t quite as good as me wanting to pretend that I was an ostrich. Being an ostrich is much easier because sticking your head in the sand takes no effort.
Kim knew I was having a hard time but there wasn’t anything she could do to pull my head out of the sand. All too often, it seems that when we are in a crisis, we don’t listen to the ones closest to us. That would be the easiest thing to do and nine out of ten times they even have good advice and/or a solution. We rarely do that though, because we are too worried about what others will think or how we’ll appear. Instead we put on blinders and shut our ears. This is usually when God uses people outside of our “close circle” to get our attention.
For me, that person was Charles on that fateful day. Our talk of work and retirement led to him making the comment that people get “comfortable where we are” and not wanting to trade that comfort for something “more.” We live our lives for so long with the baggage of our past, that it begins to feel like a comfortable pair of shoes that are worn and no longer shiny, but too “broke in” to throw away. Charles likened it to the old game show Let’s Make a Deal. You have something that you’re holding on to (be it something we perceive as a prize or one of those “demons we know”) and the announcer (God in this case) makes you an offer … You can either keep what you have or you can give it away for what is behind door number two. Look at Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” This is a clear cut case of Jesus telling us to give Him our baggage, doubt, fears, etc. and let Him make us anew so we can reap an abundant harvest. Of course, this takes work on our part. We have to provide the faith, overcome the fear and doubt, and even sacrifice at times.
“Sacrifice? Wait a minute! I thought this was supposed to be easy,” you say. It’s never as easy as we would like it to be. Scripture says that to accept Christ costs nothing, to follow Christ costs something and to serve Christ costs everything. For Job, it cost his entire family (Job ch. 1). For me, it has cost plenty over the years. My boss, a good Christian man, brought one of my “prices” to my attention during that time. He told me, quite out of the blue, that he felt like God wanted him to tell me to “step out from behind the music.” I had been told that same thing previously, but I didn’t really want to hear it. I was perfectly content to be just a musician … the “easy” part, because God richly blessed me with talent, an ear for music and a gift to compose, all offset by the fact that I deeply love music. God had more in mind for me than just music though. I was supposed to be more than a musician because, in the grand scheme of God’s plan for me, music was just a small part.
When you take the stage in any capactiy, suddenly you go from being just one of the crowd to being on display for everyone to look at and even judge. Simple musicians suddenly become role models, leaders and examples to others … something I had fought with God over every step of the way. I just wanted to play. I had no desire at all to stand up and speak, letting others see past the surface, and to make decisions that could affect the lives of my bandmates and their families. No Way!!! I fell pray to Satan’s lies and deception that I wasn’t good enough for all of that. I listened when he whispered that no one wanted to hear anything I had to say. I found myself agreeing when he told me that I just wasn’t smart enough to do anything more than play.
Scripture teaches us that we were created in God’s image (Gen. 1:27) to bring Him glory (Is. 43:7). This tells us that He didn’t intend for us to be covered in slime or stuck in the mud. We are supposed to shine for the glory of the Lord. (Matt. 5:18-19). How often do we let fear or doubt keep us from becoming what God intended us to be? For me, the answer to that is “no more.” I made the choice to trust in God and follow where He leads. I’m willing to put in the time and do the work, believing in the promise that God will reward my efforts. I’ll give up the doubts, the fears and the baggage for what’s behind door number two.
What about you?