Perspective makes all the difference in the world. I’ve played bass guitar for three years now. It all started when Kyle Matthews asked me to learn ‘one song’ on bass to accompany Rolyn Rollins during a MidWeek Fellowship service at church. Since that night, I’ve purchased gear, taken lessons, read books, started a band, and practiced, practiced, practiced. In addition to the hard work, I’ve also enjoyed some good luck. I’ve been fortunate enough to study with Shannon Hoover, hone my skills with Ryan Madora and Riley Hagen, attend master classes with Marcus Miller, Scott Ambush, Adam Nitti, Gerald Veasley, Oskar Cartaya—and even shared a stage (and an amp) with five-time Grammy winner Victor Wooten. Many musicians would say I’ve been blessed… done all there is to do… earned a place in this art. With all of this behind me, however, I think my most satisfying musical accomplishment was achieved two weekends ago. I received an email from a church member with a ‘Neighborhood Newsletter’ attached. The one-page, home-produced, newsletter contained a ‘want ad’ for a bass player. A drummer and guitarist in the neighborhood wanted a bass player to come ‘jam with them’ under their carport. I responded. The duo sent me a setlist of about 20 songs. I learned them in a week, attended the socially-distanced-masked jam session (with no music or charts) and laid a bass line for their private performance. The only ears that heard our tunes were the drummer’s wife, the drummer’s dog, some random squirrels and birds, and a few passing joggers. However, learning those songs in a short amount of time and being able to support two other players with solid basslines was one of the high points of my amateur career thus far. I was able to translate all my learning to the immediate need of a stranger. Perspective.
I’ve spent years in seminary. I’ve preached hundreds of sermons, read a couple thousand books, prayed a multitude of prayers, sat through numerous conferences, attended years of Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and church services, and memorized a bundle of Bible verses. You’ve done many of these things as well, but the true test of our faith is translating all that piety to the private moments of our lives: words gently spoken to an adversary, kindness extended to a food service worker, attention and conversation given to a crying child, patience in traffic. I think you get the picture. I know I’ve learned the lessons when I’m able to exercise my faith in the everyday circumstances of life…even when no one is looking or listening. Perspective.