Monday, September 1, 2008


There is a God. And He is awesome. And He is merciful, even when we make stupid mistakes and forget to take care of the things He has placed in our charge.

This morning, at 5:00 am, I stood in the shower, breathing in blessed steam, stretching my neck, relaxing my shoulders, trying to overcome the tension that had already begun to build. In two hours I would be standing in front of hundreds of athletes, folks who take their passion seriously, to offer a sample of my own passion. I had promised to sing the National Anthem for the Fort Worth Runners Club Labor Day race.

Two days ago I lost my head. Forgot to take care of my instrument. Worse than that, I outright abused it, screaming my bloody head off on the Titan at Six Flags. I allowed my love of speed to overshadow my judgment. I knew I would be singing, and I chose to blow out my vocal chords anyway. Stupid.

I also knew I had a solo at church yesterday. Turned out okay because it was pitched below my break. As of last night, I had nothing above the break. On the way to the event, I was still struggling.

So, there I stood this morning at the start line, breathing deeply, worrying, chastising myself for my foolishness. And when I opened my mouth, there were no surprises. It was not a flawless performance, but I believe it blessed those who gathered.

And I never chalk these successful performances up to chance or luck. I know why I manage to pull them off. I know that He hears my prayers. I can no longer count the number of times I have bowed my head in prayer before a performance, asking my God to help me overcome some vocal problem so that the gift that I am about to present will be clear, pure, and a blessing to those who will hear it.

Because it is never about me. The gift is not for me. It is always for the audience. Once it leaves my body, I no longer own it. Maybe I never did to begin with. Few things are as unsettling as sitting through a poor performance. It is my responsibility to put the listener at ease. And it is never the listener's fault if I choose to abuse my instrument.

So I humble myself before Him, and I ask for help. He always comes through. I ask Him to get me through the performance, and that is precisely what He grants me. It is the same every time - I can barely sing a note right up to the moment, I manage a pretty good offering at the mic, and then I find I can't sing much of anything afterwards.

God is real. God is good.


BB said...

By sheer coincidence, perhaps (or not), I found myself researching American poets online tonight. I read EE Cummings, TS Elliot, Henry Dumas, Rita Dove, and Maya Angelou, who wrote "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," as you well know.

I'm glad you got to fly today.

amcnew said...

Always feels great to spread my wings and discover that, once again, I can take flight.

Melinda said...

I am sure you soared and so did the hearts of your audience. Miss hearing you!