When one is growing up, one dreams of all manners of futures. There were moments in my young life when I thought of becoming a doctor, a missionary, a teacher, a writer, a history professor, a hermit, even a traveling hobo. Some of those dreams seem laughable to me now; others make me occasionally wonder about roads not taken.
Perhaps no dream interested me as greatly, however, as being a rock & roll musician. Sure, stardom carries its own allures which many people have desired. I never desired the stardom as much as I dreamt of the possibility of making music for a living. Yes, that future inevitably included hanging out with Paul McCartney, Bono, and probably a supermodel or two. But I can honestly say that the most important part of that dream for me was making the music, recording it, hearing it on the radio, and playing it before crowds of at least mildly interested fans.
I wasn't very old when God looked at that dream and said, "No, Keith. That's not what I want for you." Part of that was simply because I wasn't very good; part of that was that the Lord had another calling on my life. I am now in my 16th year of pastoral ministry, and I am grateful for the opportunities I have received to share the good news of Jesus with many people. It is a humbling yet exciting life.
Jefferson church has recently begun a ministry to and with a personal care home in urban Clairton. It is a place which serves people of lower economic stations, many of whom have mental health issues or drug-related issues. I am hopeful that this ministry continues to bear wonderful fruit, as I think it's been a true blessing both for the care home and for our congregation. I hope it grows into a true "symbiosis", and we rely on one another as family.
Part of our ministry includes worship on the first Thursday of each month. During that time, we sing, pray, hear the word read & proclaimed, and share the Bread & Cup together. It has become a wondrous time of confession and renewal in the Spirit.
As I have at other ministry events and worshipful times, I play guitar and lead singing. I confess that my skills are rusty and I'm always tempted to jump into a song by the Beatles or Creedence Clearwater Revival or Tom Petty, but God has enabled me to adequately accompany our praises and joyful noises. Recently, something wonderful has happened. The Spirit has worked through me...not to help me play as well as George Harrison or Scotty Moore or Eric Clapton...but to bring a particular tiny group of the Body of Christ into moments of true worship, not only with a real experience of the presence of God but far more importantly a sense that our praise is real, authentic, sincere and welcomed.
These are difficult emotions to describe. While I have felt similar feelings in my preaching ministry, the sense while playing guitar and singing at the personal care home rings "you've come full circle" to me, as if my weak gifts are being used in the most appropriate way. I am grateful for the journey.
This isn't to say that I'll never sing or play rock & roll again; it remains somewhat of a dream. I remain absolutely convinced that rock & roll is the greatest form of music ever devised by humankind, and that most of what passes today for "pop" music or even contemporary Christian music pales in comparison to the best of rock & roll. But I am thankful that a passion of mine has found a way to be of service to Christ's Kingdom, even in a limited fashion. God is truly good.