“Life is a journey, not a destination.”―
Charlie McCoy told me they sorta had a hard sell in music. Food on the table, the mortgage and the electric bill all come before expendable income, or at least it should and music is an expendable item. Even if there is expendable income there are many ways that it can be used, especially in the 21st century, so in that sense, the purchasing of music is expendable. That is very true.
But the listening to music and the making of music is necessary for our souls. It’s food for the savage beast. Even the littlest of souls need music. A crying baby can often be soothed by a song. Children sing as they play, those who can whistle often whistle while they work. Many couples often have “their” song. Mama has an impromptu dance party with her little ones when a fun song plays on the radio. The slaves used song as reminders that they were valuable, they used lyrics to communicate to other slaves. When Saul was troubled, he’d call for David and his lyre. God designed us for song. In some way it isn’t an extra commodity, but it is a necessary. Like a good book, music can transport us to far off worlds. Lyrics can speak when we can’t. Music reaches our soul when words fail us.
Recently, I’ve been reading Crystal Evans Hurst book “She’s Still There.” This week she’s encouraging her readers to find “an” answer. Not “the” answer but an answer that is part of the journey to “the” answer.
As I read this particular chapter, I found myself wondering about Uncle Chip and his buddies, and the music and their lives. They didn’t plan to change Nashville. They came to Nashville to do what they loved. They had fun while they did it. They didn’t look for “the” answer, they found an answer many times over.
For many of them an answer came in Atlanta with Bill Lowery
Others, found an answer in Louisiana, or California, or Missouri.
Ray Stevens found an answer when he moved from the big studio to the little house.
Fred Foster found an answer when he left the farm.
Elvis found an answer in a little recording studio in Memphis
Uncle Chip found an answer when Reed offered a couch to sleep on
These guys all found an answer by making the trip to Nashville and staying there.
And the world found an answer when they listened to the music.
God gave them talents and they didn’t hold back. They kept finding an answer, one answer at a time. And they made a difference because they offered their talents and gifts to Nashville. When I think about these guys, their passion, their talents, the dreams they chased and caught, the way they enjoyed the music, and their lives, I am astonished. Even when they weren’t living to seek God’s glory, God was using their talents to make some great music. Music that touched people.
Jerry Reed found an answer when he started asking questions
Buzz Cason opened his home.
At some point Chip and others joined them. Many of these guys found an answer around Buzz’s kitchen table. (And there’s another miss! Buzz!)
Guys from all walks of life are still finding an answer (I hope). Last I knew they were gathering around a conference table at a construction company early on Thursday mornings while Pastor Jerry leads the group.
I wrote stories about the music these guys made, but I pray the stories propel you to seek the Savior these guys knew. That’s what Uncle Chip would have wanted. He would have wanted to tell the world about his Savior. His buddies that sat around that table with him and studied the Bible would want you to know too. They’d want me to tell you that Jesus is more important than the music they made.
By the worlds standards, Uncle Chip was a good man. He was always upbeat, pleasant, kind and concerned about others. I saw it firsthand and heard it from every person I talked to and met. But I know he would tell you otherwise, because when you know the love of Jesus, you realize how great a sinner you are without him. You realize that you need Jesus as your Savior. Uncle Chip knew that. By the end of his life he found himself more in love with Jesus than with anything else life could offer.
When Chip decided to have the bypass surgery, he knew it was risky. He knew he might not make it through. As he prayed about it and considered his limited options he concluded that whether he lived or died, it would be a win! If he lived he’d have a better quality of life, if he died, he’d be with Jesus. Those of us who know Jesus know his words are absolutely true. Paul spoke similar. To live is Christ, to die is gain.
I am reminded of the story of Esther. God brought her to the place he had appointed as Queen “for such a time as this” She was in the right place to have an audience with the King. Her position saved the Jewish Nation.
I believe God brought these men and so many others together in Nashville for such a time as this. For the music, yes. Songwriters, guitar pickers, pianists, harmonica players, drummers, engineers, producers, singers and so many others. God isn’t partial, he gives his gifts to the unjust and to the just. Their talent and abilities came from God when he created them before they were even born. But I also believe God brought these folks together for the Gospel. Not just for the change He made in their lives, but that His light might shine to those that listen to the music, to those that learn about their lives and seek to find Jesus for themselves.
Those guys, Chip and his buddies, aren’t the only ones with gifts and talents. Each of us have them. You may not sing, you may not play or be musically inclined at all. But I know God gave you talent. Maybe you haven’t found it yet. Maybe you’ve struggled. Chip struggled with health issues for a large portion of his life, I wrote about that 3 years ago. But you know what? No one lives problem free. Maybe you have physical pain, or chronic illness, or maybe your pain is emotional. You might need to know that God is there with you. He didn’t cause whatever you’re going through, but he allowed it to grow you, to strengthen you and to show you how much you need him. I know that seems counter productive, but I know firsthand, it’s true! I know that Chip and a lot of the folks I sat down with would want me to tell you that God is real. He’s not dead. His desire is for you to give up yourself and to live for Him!
The kindness Jesus has shown is the price he paid. His life, his blood in exchange for your sin, my sin, Uncle Chip’s sin. None of us have done one thing worthy enough to deserve even one of the blessings he’s given us, and yet he blesses us over and over in ways we often don’t understand.
Chip finished well. He went from loving Budweiser and golf to loving Jesus more. Once saved, he never drank another Budweiser, maybe he continued to play the occasional golf game? I’m not sure. But a conversation about Jesus was never far away.
I had planned a trip and was slated to spend the night with Uncle Chip and Diane the day he fell. The next day, he had the heart attack that led to the surgery. The next week, he was lying in a hospital bed scheduled for the surgery as I drove back through Nashville. We all knew how serious this surgery was, we knew it was risky. Wild horses couldn’t have kept me from stopping in and seeing him. We prayed together before Diane and I went to dinner. I held the hand that God had used to build fences, to remodel all sorts of places, that built at least one car and beautiful furniture and played some of the music we all love. Those were also the hands that had held his Bible.
He made it through the surgery just fine but he never regained his strength. One afternoon about a month later he lay in the hospital bed and began to have trouble breathing. He was tired and wanted to go Home. Later that afternoon he slipped from this world into the next.
I’m still sad that I missed the time with him that we had planned, but God’s divine providence was different and even better.
Several years before his death, Chip was helping to install the new baptistry at their church, he decided he needed be baptized.
This came about in part, because of a patient wife who prayed and would often ask if Chip wanted to go to church with her, and a little bible study that began around the kitchen table at Forge Seat.
Thanks for taking the ride with me!