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He can sing like Travis but not like Henley!



My small Methodist church--for whatever divine reason--has become a veritable magnet for musical talent. In our small praise band, we have a professional guitarist and songwriter, a classical pianist, a semi-professional bass player, a young and extremely talented praise-team leader, and a handful of skilled, amateur vocalists. And that doesn't even include our choir, which sounds beautiful every Sunday! I am so very thankful that God has brought this musical smorgasbord to our congregation. Sunday mornings are always such a treat!


A few months ago, three of our praise-team members decided to start a band independent of the church. Although one of their goals is no doubt to stretch their creative wings, the band's overarching objective is clearly evangelistic. They want to spread the gospel message through song. And to my surprise and pleasure, they asked me to be a part of it. My official role is to give a short devotional message during intermission and to provide the opening and closing remarks during each show. As a pastor, these tasks are right up my proverbial alley!


But as this group has continued to evolve, my role has changed slightly. During some initial practices, we all discovered (and, yes, that includes me) that I have an ability to sing in the same register as Randy Travis. Sure, I've sung in the shower and in the car for years, but no one has ever heard me. So, this discovery has been pleasantly surprising for everyone involved. It has been fun developing my singing voice and moving into the role of a part-time vocalist in the group. And having people tell me I sound so much like Randy Travis is...well...rather flattering.


Even so, if truth be told, I don't want to sound like Randy Travis. One of my favorite singers of all time is Don Henley of The Eagles. In my mind, his voice soars and is one of the most melodious in all of rock-n-roll. If I could choose to sing like anyone, it would be Don. But that ain't happening! Don's register is about six million light years above mine. In order to hit his high notes, I have to use my falsetto, which sounds absolutely horrible. The only thing I have in common with the former frontman of The Eagles is that my attempts to sing like him sound like the screeching of an eagle! As such, I'm left with an insatiable desire to range vocally in a land wherein I know no home.


Isn't this how we live our lives too often, though? God gives us so much, yet we always see the grass as greener somewhere else. There are countless folks in America who would love to sing in Randy Travis' register. To wish away this God-given vocal range is not only to disrespect these folks, but it is also a failure to recognize what God has so graciously given me. He could have chosen to give me nothing vocally; instead, he gifted me with something I can use to inspire and entertain. By not embracing this gift, I effectively tell God, "Thanks, God, but that's not good enough. Can you give me something else, please?" What an arrogant way to respond to God's grace!


So, I'll take it! Sure, I'd love to possess the ability to sing The Eagles' classics. But that's not what God wants. From now on, then, I am going to embrace the path He has chosen for me as a musician. I'm going to turn from Henley to Travis. And I mean that...from the hard rock bottom of my heart!

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