I was talking to my mom in Florida the other day when she said, “What’s that noise I hear in the background?” I smiled and said, “Oh, that’s the grandson singing.” He loves to sing and, in fact, sings all the time.
I love to hear him sing. Sometimes, he will be singing to himself in the back of the car. Sometimes he sings while he plays.
Sometimes, the melodies are unrecognizable as he loves to make up songs. Other times, the songs are recognizable. They are tunes that he has picked up from one of the shows that he watches. Sometimes, we sing together and I make up songs that we sing.
Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Like most kids, I remember growing up listening to my mom listen to music. My mother loved to sing, and even plays a few instruments. I grew up loving music.
I remember when the Glen Campbell show used to come on. As a little kid, I would run to my room and grab my kid’s guitar and play along (whether it had strings, I don’t remember).
Eventually, I began to take piano lessons and enjoyed playing. I took lessons for a couple of years. It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun. Along the way, I discovered that playing the piano wasn’t cool. I’m not sure which one of my friends informed me of that. But, I recognized the need to move on to a more suitable instrument.
As a teen, I think I initially wanted to play the drums. But my mom, extremely wise, knew this would probably not be the best choice for our family. Instead, we headed off to an old Sears store and I got an acoustic guitar. This was a monumental event.
I took guitar lessons and found that learning to play was much harder than I imagined it would be. I remember the initial pain of my fingers as I tried to push the strings down on the frets to play notes and chords. But, despite the pain and callouses, I was hooked. With a lot of time and practice, I was able to get the hang of it.
Playing guitar became a part of my DNA. I had a pretty good ear for music, a passion to play, and the discipline to practice. I would play for hours trying to figure out songs and making up my own. Doing my homework would have to take a back seat.
Several years later, I began to meet other musicians and bounced around in several bands. I met a great friend, David, who was extremely talented. I became the backup guitarist for his band. David could play anything from Van Halen to Bach. He was versatile and could read music and play by ear.
He helped me see the potential that I had and was extremely encouraging. He eventually went on to become extremely successful and was featured in several bands, eventually becoming a studio musician in Nashville. David and I played for several years until I decided that I wanted to be in the spotlight.
After high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I got into some trouble with the law and my mother was insistent that I do something with my life and suggested college. I enrolled in a local junior college and began to study music. After several semesters, I realized that college, at least at the time, was not for me. I was destined for greater things like becoming a rock star. I had the hair and the look. All I needed was the break.
At the age of 19, I got my big break. I found my purpose in life and became a Christian. I sang a new song (Ps 96:1). I continued to play in a band, but because of my faith in Christ, everything changed.
I’ll never forget that fateful band practice. My band was in the studio practicing for an upcoming show. As a rock band in the 80s, we played Boston, Rush, Van Halen, and even AC/DC. At that time, we were working on the AC/DC song, “Hell’s Bells” and Van Halen’s “Running with the Devil.” I had played these songs hundreds of times, but never thought about the songs before. They were just songs and I was going through the motions.
However, as I began to play and our lead singer began to sing, the words of the songs became extremely clear. They weren’t just songs. They were messages. Hell’s bells were no longer chiming for me. I was no longer running with the devil. Now that my life was in tune, these songs were in the wrong key. I knew that this was my last band practice. I didn’t look back.
I don’t know why I was surprised, but the Bible has a lot to say about music. For example, at creation, the angels sang (Job 38:7). If you are ever on Jeopardy and are asked, “who is the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe?” make sure to say Jubal—but make sure to say it in the form of a question (Gen 4:27).
The Bible also mentions stringed instruments, percussion, wind instruments, and more. In fact, a whole book in the Bible is filled with songs. It’s called, Psalms. Did you know that when God descended on Mount Sinai, there was a loud trumpet blast? (Ex. 19:19-20). Also, when Jesus comes again, there will also be a loud trumpet blast (1 Thes 4:16). I wonder if there’s a coincidence. Jesus Himself sang with his disciples (Matt 26:30). God Himself sings. The Bible says, “he will exult over you with loud singing” (Zeph 3:17).
As the years went on, I began to play in church and, for many years, played in a praise band. Having the opportunity to play was fun and the times of worship were meaningful. Playing in the praise band was also a challenge. There were times that I played for God. However, there were other times that I played for me. It was a delicate dance.
My sacrifice of praise was not intended to be for my personal enjoyment, but for God’s ultimate glory. There is a difference. At times, I had the wrong audience and needed to remember that my greatest joy is found in making sure God is in the spotlight, not me.
Initially, I really thought that God would use me in music ministry. Although, I did work in Christian radio for decades, and got paid to listen to music, it was all behind the scenes. I really thought I would play. Apparently, God, the Master Conductor had other plans for my life and He called me to preach.
The instrument has changed, yet, the song remains. I still love to play and sing. I sing to myself, sometimes singing out loud. I’ve even been known to sing when I preach. As the old gospel song goes, “there’s within my heart a melody.”
I think all of us were created to sing. God has given us a wonderful gift in the gift of music. We all have a song in our heart. But, like an old 45 rpm record, there’s a A side and a flip side (you might need to Google that). For the believer, it’s the song of the redeemed (Rev 14:3). It’s a song of hope, joy, peace, and fulfillment.
There’s no other song like it. The wonderful thing is, even if you can’t hear the tune right now, there’s plenty of room in the choir.
Dr. Wayne Geiger Pastor of First Baptist Grain Valley, an Adjunct Professor of Speech, and freelance writer.