A few weeks ago, we celebrated the first anniversary of my new ministry of traveling and doing music full time. When I ventured out to explore a new way of doing art, life, and ministry, I had no idea what it would be like. To tell you the truth, I thought I’d be pumping gas within six months. But God has been good to us. Many people have invited us into their homes and churches to play and to share and, truth be told, I feel like I’ve received more than I’ve given.
I’ve had a chance to make a lot of new friends. I’ve driven thousands of miles, and crossed this beautiful country of ours. I’ve been everywhere from Fernie, BC to Ottawa and I’ve had some wonderful encouragement along the way. Last fall I was nominated for 3 Covenant Awards, and although that was tremendously gratifying for me, what’s been even more encouraging has been meeting people after a concert and hearing their stories. It seems that my songs have become their songs. One night, after playing a concert at a Lutheran Camp in Northern Saskatchewan, an older gentleman came up to me and said, “I really liked your songs, there, young man. They’re good songs,… with good theology. You know, us Lutherans like good theology.” He patted me on the back and continued on his way. That was far more encouraging than any award. (Incidentally, my producer, Roy Salmond, says that awards are, “pretty weird. Like cotton candy – no nutritional value, but they do taste sweet nonetheless. (As long as you know it ain’t steak)”
And now, with one year under my belt, I’m looking ahead to the future. Sometimes I think this is the wrong time to do this. The world is in an economic hurricane, and everyone’s trying to batten-down the hatches and wait out the storm. Many artists, far more well-established than I am, are tightening their belts and downsizing. Sometimes concerts are hard to book, and I wonder if we’ll make it another month.
But then I remember feeling the same way last year, when we were just starting-out. Now, here I am. A little older, a little wiser, a lot more at peace than I used to be. I am a worrier by nature. I come from a long line of worriers. But this past year has taught me patience, and maybe… faith (Ironically, I’ve learned that it takes a lot more faith to be a musician than it did to be a pastor, but that’s another article).
All this came to a head for me, back about 5 months ago. I’d hit a rough spot, and was wondering if it wasn’t time to pack it in. I went to Calgary to investigate a ministry position with a local church there. They needed a worship pastor and I needed (or thought I needed) a little more stability. It’s a great church, and it would have been a great fit, except for the fact that I just didn’t feel right about taking the job. One night I was lying in bed, praying about the whole situation, when I believe God spoke very clearly to me.
Now, I have to clarify here. I don’t hear voices in my head. I don’t assume every headache is some kind of demonic attack. Nor do I assume every free parking spot is an act of divine intervention. But, I have had a few rare moments in my life, when God has spoken to me. Maybe 5 times… Maybe.
That night, He said,”Keith…, what are you doing here? Did you come here out of fear…, or out of faith? My word says, “The righteous will live by faith.”. At that moment, I knew that the situation wasn’t right. I had to face my fears and go back home.
Over the past few months, we’ve seen God’s provision in some wonderful ways, but there’s still this nagging feeling like maybe next month will be the month we’ll have to sell all our furniture and eat peanut butter (except we can’t because my son is allergic). Every day is a decision to live by faith rather than fear. To keep pursuing our calling by faith, until faith shows us otherwise. To do otherwise is to give in to fear. Fear is the absence of Love, of Hope, and of Faith. “The righteous will live by faith” (Habakkuk. 2:4).