When I was a young Christian, fresh out of the Marine Corps, I was a minstrel with a mission. I carried my guitar everywhere I went, singing Christian favorites, as well as songs of my own composition. The size of my audience didn’t matter; there might be one or two, there might be a roomful. I just loved to sing about Jesus and looked for opportunities to do so.
BUT NOW BRING ME A MINSTREL
One day in September of 1973, during my first semester at a northern California Bible college, I went into the chapel after classes to practice my repertoire. The chapel appeared empty, so I went onto the platform, got out my guitar and began singing to the Lord. A few minutes later a girl at the rear of the chapel (she’d been lying on the floor praying), poked her head over a pew and stared across the chapel at me. It was a funny “peekaboo-I-see-you” moment. Then she immediately jumped up and rushed out of the door.
Needless to say, this didn’t encourage my musical self-esteem. I’d had an audience of one and she bolted like her hair was on fire!
I continued singing. Five minutes later the girl returned and asked if I would be willing to speak and sing at her church the following Sunday. I guess she liked my singing after all. The church in question was a small country fellowship in the hills north of San Francisco. Not having cell phones in those days, she had just rushed out to phone her pastor to see if inviting me was all right with him. It was.
I said sure.
Sunday was two days away, so there was plenty of time to cook up a sermon, right? It didn’t work out that way.
AND WHEN THE MINSTREL PLAYED…
The next day as I boarded a bus for the trip I still had no sermon prepped, just my guitar and a handful of psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. I also had the audacity to trust that God would use me to somehow to bless His people. I remember praying on the bus that God would give me something to talk about the next morning. I was apprehensive, to say the least. Still, no topic came to mind.
I had to change buses in San Francisco, and catch another one that went on to the mountain community. I had about an hour’s wait, so I pulled out my guitar and began to sing. That might sound a little strange to people today, but back in the days of the Jesus Movement it wasn’t uncommon at all to see young people singing on street corners, or in parks, or other public places. It went with the times.
Soon a small crowd gathered around to listen. I sang Amazing Grace, I sang I Wish We’d All Been Ready, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, interspersed with some of my own songs and personal testimony.
THE HAND OF THE LORD CAME UPON HIM (2 Kings 3:15)
When my bus arrived I packed up and headed for it. A moment later a good-looking, well-dressed man about forty-something followed me to the rear of the bus and stepped into the seat in front of me. But instead of sitting down he leaned over the seat-back and looked at me.
“I was listening to you singing,” he said, with tears in his eyes. “I’m a backslidden Assemblies of God pastor.”
He went on to confess that he had wandered from the path of righteousness, and had gotten into a bad way of living. Even now he was heading to Las Vegas to continue his wayward lifestyle. He told me that as I was singing, the Holy Spirit convicted him of his sin, and he wanted to repent. We prayed right there.
Afterward he thanked me, walked to the front of the bus and got off. I watched him disappear into the station crowd, stunned and amazed at God’s grace. Then I thought about what had just happened.
My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).
I had my sermon.
I told this story to the little church in the mountains. My sermon didn’t have a three point outline with a joke and a punchline, it wouldn’t have passed a Homiletics class, but the Holy Spirit used it to bless the saints in a little mountain church. I sang my songs, and we all rejoiced together.
MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY OPPORTUNITY
Obviously, I have never forgotten that story, which occurred over forty years ago. I don’t know whatever became of the backslidden pastor. Was his repentance genuine? It sure seemed so to me. Did he get back onto the path of righteousness? I hope so, but I don’t know. That’s not my business, it’s God’s. My business is to walk in the Spirit and “make use of every opportunity [to share Christ], because the days are evil” (Eph 5:16). This is so much more true today than it was back in 1973.
The Apostle Paul says, “Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Eph. 5:19). A Spirit-filled life is a song-filled life. The child of God who is filled with the Spirit cannot help but sing! And when we sing unto the Lord, those walking in darkness cannot help but take notice. They will be drawn to the Source of spiritual music and life.
Have you been making melody in your heart to the Lord lately?
Lord, fill us with the audacity of Your Spirit, that we might minister to a lost and dying world.