Music has had a long history in my life, especially as it relates to what dyed-in-the-wool midwesterners would term "special music". The irony that someone singing a solo on Sunday morning is referred to in different vocabulary than the rest of the worship service says something about our skewed church culture...but I digress. One of my first memories of singing in church was a solo I did when I was just four years old. I sang a song entitled, "Pound, Pound, Pound", wherein the composer, Lowell Lundstrom, talks about the story of Noah. I remember climbing the seemingly endless four stair steps up to the podium area. I turned and faced a small sea of faces and had the first taste of gripping fear that I can recall. I timidly waded through the song, at one point forgetting an entire phrase of lyrics.
Many years later, I had the opportunity to sing the National Anthem for a packed crowd at a high school basketball game. Full of self confidence, I dismissed the choir director's advice of utilizing a pitch pipe to locate my starting note. I started several notes too high, and thought I would surely pass out during the "rockets red glare" passage. Just the thought of the Star Spangled Banner sends shivers down my spine.
Last week, I had to present a project in front of my peers. The stage was set for all of my favorite fears to come back to haunt me. I was "that guy"---non-traditional college student in the classroom ten years after getting my undergrad. That awkward skinny guy with the weird hair trying to convince his entitled generation that he has good reason to incorporate 1960's wood paneling into his web design.
Thankfully, there is grace. There is always grace. I didn't have to look out into an array of blank looks, wondering if I'd pull through; if I'd perform up some assumed expectation. Rather, I could relax and present my imperfect project using my imperfect self because I knew that God had my back. I had the assurance of alien achievement and foreign righteousness. I could accept critique because my project and my competency were not determining my story. Instead, my story was being written by the ultimate Author, who is in the best industry I know---the redemption business.