…for I seek not what is yours, but you. – 2 Corinthians 12:4
Within all of us there are built-in time capsules that ring loud, silent alarms to remind us that it is time to get out of bed, time to eat, or that the sermon has gone on too long. One of my inner alarms rings aloud each April and reminds me that it’s time to dust off the old guitar and once again rehearse, for the sake of inner tranquility, the folk songs of my youth.
At the peak of my folk-picking career I actually did belong to a folk group, “The Hamstrings,” that sang within the church and youth circles of the Tampa Bay area. Although we were never accused of being talented, we were very lively and extremely cheap. And the folk tunes of 500 Miles, Greenfield, and If I Had a Hammer could always be counted on to receive a rousing response from the congregation – with the one exception of the time we got carried away, forgot where we were, and started singing The House of the Rising Sun to the Christian Women’s Fellowship.
On one occasion I was trapped into leading a youth retreat sing-along by being the only one of the Hamstrings in attendance. Realizing that a retreat without music is no retreat at all, I reluctantly suggested a D-G-A chord song and led out. I still don’t know how I finished so far ahead of everyone else, but it was probably just as well because we had yet to hit the same note at the same time anyway. I suggested we sing the next tune a cappella but started it so high that we had to quit half way through the first verse. By the end of the third song the laughter had subsided, and by the fourth we were actually sounding pretty good. Needless to say, I spent the rest of the weekend retreat being very embarrassed but also a little bit glad that at least I’d taken a chance and it eventually turned out pretty well.
The experience reminds me how often we say, “If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well,” even though we know we don’t have the ability to do everything well that needs to be done. Therefore, as a terminally mediocre folk singer, I share with you a new saying: “If it’s worth doing, it worth doing poorly.” Maybe this is what Paul meant when he said of the Macedonians, “but first they gave themselves.” (2 Cor 8:5). For it seems to me that there are times when we must give and act, not from our proven strengths, but from our unproven highest hopes and best intentions.
Prayer: Lord, bless our hopes, our attempts, and especially our best intentions. Amen.