It was a bitterly cold night in downtown Minneapolis. I was in that in-between stage before my CD released, and I was trying to wrack up some performance time. Little did we know that on this January evening, temperatures would be well below zero. In fact, that night, the low dipped down near -30. I asked my driver if she was still comfortable driving to the coffeehouse for the show; she agreed that it was far too cold but that we would still go.
I can remember the crowd being very small that night; patrons were doing their best to keep warm with hot beverages and a blazing fireplace as I set up my equipment. I didn’t do a lot of mingling with the customers; I was from out of town and didn’t know anyone. So I just played for a few hours, sharing some of my faith-based covers and original compositions. I laid out a few copies of my book and made a few comments about my forth-coming CD, but no one seemed to pay any attention. It was the first time I felt like no one was listening to my performance. It was a pretty low experience for me.
When I finished my last song, my driver and I set to work dismantling the sound system and gathering up the merchandise. As I mentioned before, I hadn’t mingled with the crowd, so as a result, I was startled when a woman spoke up from nearby.
“Thank you for coming tonight,” she said quietly. “I don’t know what it is, but your voice… your music… it brought me peace.”
For a moment, I stood still, rooted to the floor. I’m pretty sure my mouth opened and closed in that moment, trying to form coherent speech. Of course, I knew what peace she was speaking of; it was God’s peace. But I couldn’t seem to get the words out. I could have had an opportunity right then and there to share the Gospel, but I didn’t. Instead, I offered up a semblance of a smile and thanked her for being there on that cold night.
In the years that have passed since that January night, I have not allowed myself to trivialize the peace I sing about each time I perform or lead worship. In fact, if someone asked me today why I sing or what I sing about, I would say it not only comes down to peace but hope as well. I hear so many musicians on secular radio and TV belt out tunes dripping with sexual content, crude lyrics, and negative messages. I cringe when I hear these same musicians acknowledge God in their award acceptance speeches. How can someone acknowledge God for their gifts and talents, and then turn around and sing about the very things that must grieve His heart.
I am not casting judgement on my fellow musicians; I am only setting myself up against a higher standard. I have found that without God, I wouldn’t have a reason to sing. He is the one who gave me my voice in the first place, and it is my prayer that I can put that gift on display for His honor and glory. In fact, that catch phrase: “Without Him, I wouldn’t have a reason to sing” is posted at the top of the music page on my website.
So if I am going to sing for Him and if He gives me a reason to sing, what do my songs look like? If I say that I sing about peace and hope, does that really categorize my entire music library? Well, I’ve thought about it, and I believe it’s true. Whether I am singing a song I wrote or covering a tune from a beloved artist, I truly believe hope and peace have become a platform for me. I took the time to work through my typical set list for a concert, and it wasn’t long before I found an over-arching theme within each song.
- Lifting my eyes to God when I am in need of help
- I am nothing without Him.
- The birth of Christ and His second coming
- Jesus’ friendship when earthly friends leave us
- The beauty of a God-centered relationship
- The beauty of birth and adoption
- Embracing His Promise even when all seems lost
- The hope of finding a cure for cancer
- Following your dreams
- Finding a new tomorrow in the midst of grief and loss
- God is waiting for us to embrace Him even though we so often push Him away.
- Peace in the midst of turmoil
- A prayer to be filled with His peace
- Following His lead through the fog of uncertainty
- The Promise that one day I will rise to be with Him in eternity
And the list could go on and on. These are just a few of the highlights… songs I sing quite often when I give a performance. Yes, they have varying concepts at the center of their lyrics, but overall, they reveal a perspective rich in faith, hope, and peace.
I recently completed a book by Laura Story entitled When God Doesn’t Fix it. As I read, I was inspired to not let my circumstances stand in the way of living my life and moving forward. This goes for songwriting and performing too. If I only sang songs of happy praise and joy, there wouldn’t be the meatiness that exists in singing about deep hurt and God’s provision through such experiences. Yes, we can praise God when things are going well, but when praise is evoked in the midst of trial, true authenticity takes place. To some, my songs may be too deep, too introspective, too depressing. But if you know me and my music well, we try not to stay in that reflective and contemplative state for long; it only breeds hopelessness and despair. Instead, each song I write and sing culminates with a measure of hope and peace. I refuse to tie everything up in a neat little bow as if each situation would come to a happy ending. But I do my best to offer hope in the midst of life’s hardships. Why do I sing? I sing to bring hope. Without Him, I wouldn’t have a reason to sing.
One thought on “Why I Sing”
And I thought you only sang for my blessing and enjoyment!!!! Just kidding but know I AM BLESSED and look forward to Sunday worship because it always brings me even closer to him so thank you :)!!