Just this week, I was telling the story of how I hooked up with my first college band as a drummer. I had played guitar for years, but took an interest in drums on a suggestions by none other than the son of Don Williams (who?). Donnie Jr. and I were in school together back in the day.
One Friday evening while in college around 6:30, I cruised over to Frat Row to watch the band he played for start setting up for an 8:30 start time. About an hour later, their drummer reappears from a mysterious hiatus, and he's completely tanked. Apparently, he had been helping with making the party punch and took it upon himself to personally make sure each bottle of PGA was safe for consumption. Even the best drummer might find it difficult to play while projectile vomiting on all fours repeatedly,so I was pressed (kicking and screaming) into my first performance with about a half hour crash course through the set.
I was hooked. Not necessarily by the performing part, but rather by the satisfaction of using my marginal musical talent to lock in with other musician to make good music.
Fast forward to a few years ago when an old college-band drummer was invited to play with our church's Praise Team. I was petrified. Drummers are constantly (and rather obnoxiously) pounding out beats and rhythms with their hands and feet, which I had done through nearly every church worship service from my seat in the congregation for years, but being a part of leading worshipping service? I just didn't feel worthy.
The Praise Team was in a bind, so I agreed to sit in one Sunday morning on a few rather mellow songs. The first one was in something called 6/8 time, and I didn't have a clue as I fumbled trying to force a 4/4 time square into a 6/8 round hole. Disastrous. But thanks to a super talented band leader with quick thinking and subtle head gestures, we worked through the song despite my rough start. I didn't get the same euphoric feeling following that first set at church that I had experienced back in college. Why?
After attending several practices and playing a few more services, I moved into the drummer's spot full-time. Honestly, I still wasn't comfortable with my role and felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility, which I believe hampered my drum playing. Also, there had always been a bit of a controversy over the contemporary music played during praise and worship, which I'm sure is completely unique to our church (eye roll).
About six months after becoming the full-time drummer for the Praise Team, I witnessed something during a song that truly changed my attitude. The song was Chris Tomlin's version of Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone, and as I glanced over at the band leader like I often do for cues, I noticed he was singing and playing with such conviction as tears streamed down his face. His back was to the congregation, so I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who saw this. That's when I realized, he's singing as if no one else is here and it's just him and Jesus. Wow.
I was overcome with the Spirit that day, and I instantly had a complete new outlook on my role behind the drum set. I wasn't playing, good or bad, for the congregation...I was playing for Him.
Several months later, we were asked to play that same song at the funeral of a good friend's mother. The service was conducted at our church and the place was full. There were people from a number of different churches, as well as, no church at all. As we built the song up to the forceful middle section, I could feel the tears flowing...
My chains are gone. I've been set free.
My God, my Savior has ransomed me.
And like a flood, His mercy reigns.
Unending love, Amazing grace.
There's always a danger when getting lost in a song while playing in front of other people, but I didn't care. I knew that my friend's mom...because of grace...was with Jesus. I became overcome with joy as I pounded out the beat and at the thought of one day joining her...all because of grace.
As Christians, we use words like grace, faith, joy and mercy on a regular, if not daily, basis. But the true implications behind those words are...well...completely overpowering. I know like you, I've bellowed out the staple song Amazing Grace hundreds of times in church, and I've even during a few of them recognized the wretch I truly am. A wretch that is completely worthless without that amazing grace.
Grace is the word that most makes me look so forward to drumming for Him one day for all of eternity...if He wants me to.