When I was younger, I held the belief that I could always outrun some of my sins—not all of them, but some. Although I don’t say that anymore, I know plenty of other younger folks who still feel that way. When we’re young, we believe we can just get away with some things. But the Word of God tells us that sooner or later, those sins will reach us: “. . . and you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23b). I thought my sins had all caught up with me, but the other day, another one resurfaced.
This story begins a long time ago, nearly 30 years, to be exact. I was serving on staff at Central Church in Pampa, Texas. When we received the call to go there, my wife and I were living in Dallas amidst the hustle and bustle of city life. Pampa lies in the northwestern part of Texas in what is sometimes referred to as the panhandle. I’ve never lived anywhere quite like it. Pampa wasn’t the end of the world, but I’m pretty sure you could see the end of the world (or someplace even farther away) from there. Moving to Pampa from Dallas, where the traffic runs 24 hours a day, shops are open around the clock, and you can find any kind of restaurant your heart desires … let’s just say it was a huge adjustment.
Our new town had a much slower pace. When the sun goes down, the sidewalks (and everything else) rolled up. Outsiders joked that in Pampa, watching “60 Minutes” took an hour and a half. I told them it wasn’t that bad. After all, Amarillo was only 77.6 miles away (I’m not sure who was counting).
Soon after my wife and I moved into town, our minister of music befriended me. We really liked this guy and his wife. Since we were all MWNC (married with no children), we found a friendship. In those days, no matter what size of church you served, your youth did a summer choir tour across America. Our church was no exception, except instead of touring across America, we traveled around our county.
As we prepared for the tour, the minister of music approached to ask if I would sing a solo in the upcoming youth musical. The only thing I fear more than my sins finding me out is singing a solo. I have no vocal skills whatsoever. I can’t hear the pitches well enough to match them. When I think I’m dead on, my wife says I sound like a moose lost in the wilderness. Several have reported that I sing with feeling, but they can’t imagine feeling that bad.
The music minister persisted despite my protests, promising to help me out with a few private lessons. I didn’t want to let my friend down, so I agreed to sing. The solo consisted of two lines. I’ve never sweated over anything before or since the way I did over two lines. I practiced and practiced, but didn’t feel I was making any progress.
The time finally came for our first musical at a little church not too far away. A handful of members filled the sanctuary, and the musical began. The closer we got to my part, the more I sweated. I couldn’t hear the students’ voices over the pounding of my heart.
Have you ever been at an intersection of your life when you thought, “What in the world am I doing here?” I was on my way. As the time came for my solo, the minister of music pointed at me. There I stood, looking like a deer caught in the headlights . . . and blew my two lines. My musical friend was kind to me, however. Afterwards, he patted my shoulder and said something like, “Good try.”
Again, sometimes you think you can outrun those things that happen in your life. But sometimes, those same things catch up to you. A few weeks ago, I opened up the Baptist Messenger and saw a big announcement that Randy Lind is our new State Worship and Music Specialist. A wave of fear washed over me. You see, Randy and I served on staff together at Central Church in Pampa, Texas. And he’s the only man who ever coaxed me into singing a solo.
Just think: If Randy can get a guy like me to sing a solo, what he will do for the state of Oklahoma? Oklahoma Baptists have had some legends who have served in this position. If I know one thing about Randy, it’s that he’ll continue the great heritage. But if I may take a point of personal privilege here, I want to tell him, “Congratulations! . . . but never again.”