The Ringer

I am writing to you from vacation. The first in many, many years. The first with two teenagers.  The first with extended family in tow.  And I could not be more delighted about all of it.


So many opportunities for good things are created in the tired, hot… or in our case, the tired cold. We are cruising in Alaska. We have abandoned the heat of Texas for the cool fog of wherever we are today. Stretchy pants. Round the clock coffee. My people. It is all my favorite things and more.


Every decade or two the stars align just right and I get to see something of almost untold and unknown glory. My husband singing karaoke. Seriously. It’s a thing. And it is RARE. Only three times in over 40 years of his life has my man taken to the stage to join in the ancient art of KA-RA-RO-KEE. And all three times were at someone else’s (mostly my) behest. Once on our honeymoon. Once on an anniversary trip to Mexico, years later. And last night.


Y’all. He’s a ringer. He would never think or say it, but I know it. And it was terribly fun to see his teenage children and mom come to know it as well.


If he opens his mouth, he’s a star. If it is a competition, he is going to win. He just is. He has a gift and it is music and it oozes out of him. He has hands down the most phenomenal voice I have ever heard, and y’all–I’ve heard some singers. We are music people. We travel in talent. And still– he wins in my book.


People cry when he plays the guitar. And then they cry more when they realize he isn’t really a guitar player, but a piano player. Then they just fall apart when they realize that piano isn’t even the thing he is “great” at. They never expect him to be a jazz guy, or a broadway guy, or a rock guy…a worship guy, a crooner, a balladeer…and he is all of them.


He is a singer. He is a musician. He has written and arranged for symphonies and orchestras. He can play most any instrument. It’s bizarre and quite unfair. And it thrills my soul to see him perform. Which, I say again, is rare. Sunday morning is NOT EVER a performance. It is not ever called in. It is always gracious, humble, sincere and for the leading of others and the loving of the Lord. But it is not ever playing to the crowd, or crazy high notes, or fabulous solos. We were at our last church 5 years and most people had never heard him play the trumpet, his instrument of training.


The kids and I talked him into entering The Voice of the Ocean… for no other reason than it is just fun to see how people respond to him.  As suspected, instant notoriety on the ship. Friends have been made, napkins have been signed.


But here is the part I love to tell people most. They always assume he loves karaoke. And he does not. Not at all.


Hence the three times he has participated. EVER.  I love to tell people that Andy is a worship pastor and when he surrendered to ministry in the local church, at nineteen, an inevitable lifetime of success and opportunity were lovingly placed on the altar of His Lord. And Andy flatly refuses to try to take them back ever.


Last night, I got to point out to my children how effortless wowing people is for their dad, how easily recognition and fame would follow him. And how he has never once pursued it.


Because pursuing Christ is better.  And their dad not only knows it but lives it. Last week was jumping around and leading a youth band in a song to help hundreds of kids remember a Bible verse. Three days before that, a funeral for a stranger that he sang as if they were a friend.


If this time is like the other two before and he has any say in the matter, the song he sings in the next round will point directly to Jesus or he will take a minute or two to welcome anyone listening to come find him and ask questions or ask for prayer.  He’s not really a ringer. He is a heralder of the Good News.


It is one of my most favorite things about him. He can’t help it. His talent is not his own and he would correct anyone who tried to give him credit.


It will be fun for a day or two and then Andy will gladly and quickly go back to reserving his song for Sundays. What a guy. What a voice.


Can I give a word of advice, Church? The Kingdom needs more guys who shy away from the spotlight, who are resistant to recognition even if their talents or abilities bring it easily. We have had a few decades of elevating personality, performance, look, and likes… over character, quality, and calling.


The Body, and culture, reflect it.


How can we have guys who have sung on stages for hundreds of thousands, over decades of touring, be so absent of foundation or faith they can walk away? We have been in ministry more than twenty years, I get it. I have seen it. I have lived it. Life is hard. Ministry is harder. Christ-following is impossible…without Christ. But on darkest days and nights of soul and circumstance, you either believe THIS IS THE WAY down deep in your core or you don’t. And maybe never did.


Look for the humble servants. Look for the frustratingly meek. Look for those the Lord elevates even if man does not. AND DO NOT FOLLOW THEM but walk in the same direction…testing everything against His Word.

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