Facing the Truth

By

I went to the doctor yesterday for the first time in years. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been sick; it means I’m the kind of stubborn fool who doesn’t like to take an ibuprofen for a headache, the kind of crank who would rather walk around squinting and snappy than to take the blasted aspirin. I just don’t like medicine. I prefer sweating it out, however inconvenient that is for the people around me. So after ten days of coughing and sniffling and whining I finally decided it must be a sinus infection. I have a show in a few days, and I can’t afford to be sick. So I bravely did what any man in my shoes would do: I asked my wife what to do. She told me which doctor to visit and I drove to the offices with a steely resolve. The nurse behind the sliding glass window handed me the clipboard with the dreaded New Patient Paperwork, and then the thing happened that made me want to write this.

The questions began. “Do you have any allergies?” “Do you drink caffeine?” “Do you use tobacco?” “If so, how often?” “Do you exercise regularly?” “Is there a history of heart disease in your family?” “Have you had any surgeries?

I realized as I answered each question that my impulse was to pad the answers. I had to force myself to be completely honest. For some reason I didn’t want to write down that my dad has type two diabetes or that my grandfather had three heart attacks before he died. No, ma’am, I come from tough stock. No problems at all in the Peterson tree. In the end, I told the truth. I answered “yes” to the exercise question, because it’s true. I do exercise. But then it asked “How often?” Well, that depends. I jog three or four times a week—if I’m home and the weather is nice and I’m not too busy and I’m in the mood. So, sort of often. But I rode my mountain bike twice last year, does that count? “Do you use tobacco?” No. Never. That stuff is gross. But every now and then I like to puff on a pipe, Bilbo Baggins-style, when I’m visiting my dad in the country. And I guess I smoke it when the weather is nice in the spring and my dude friends come over. And on Wednesdays. And Thursdays.

Then came the one that really bugged me. For some reason the questionnaire asked, “Have you ever been to counseling?” My pen hovered over the paper. Why is that any of their business? It would have been easy to skip the question, or to lie. But I could see how that answer could give them some insight into high blood pressure or anxiety-related problems. I still think it’s weird that they wanted to know (maybe some doctors out there will shed some light on it), but what was even weirder was how reluctant I was to answer. And even when I answered I wished for space to make disclaimers and justifications. I’ve only been a few times. I’m not like a regular or anything. Why was I trying to distance myself from people with Real Problems, as if I didn’t qualify?

By the time I saw the doctor and she prescribed my antibiotics, I was laughing to myself about the disparity between who I imagine myself to be and the person I actually am. I imagine that I’m a person who’s never sick, never needs medicine, has no vices, comes from a healthy family, and is so spiritually and emotionally balanced that he never needs help. The person I actually am is more than a little out of shape, is probably a candidate for heart trouble, enjoys a scholarly pipe smoke a little too much, and has several times been so beset with spiritual and emotional trouble that he needed serious help from a counselor. It’s official. Hello, Doc. My name is Andrew, and I’m a person with Real Problems. I sat on the papery hospital bed thinking about how uncomfortable I was that the doctor knew more about the “real” me than most people.

I have always been a private person. The irony is that my whole career is about sharing some of the darkest (and brightest) moments of my life with perfect strangers. That’s what all my records are about, more or less. When I run up against some old sin or doubt or habit in a way that derails my train, and my wife and friends act surprised, I want to hold up a CD and say, “Why are you so shocked? It’s all in there. It’s in almost every song I write. When a lyric says, ‘I’ve got voices that scream in my head like a siren,’ it’s not just poetry or exaggeration. That’s me. That’s what’s really going on.” I don’t have a hard time sharing that stuff from the stage. Then why was I so tempted to pad my answers in the medical questionnaire?

There are a lot of possibilities, but one that comes to mind is this: I have control over what I put in a song. When I’m on the stage I can manage what I reveal about myself, I can put a funny spin on it or sugarcoat the real depth of the sin. But when I’m anonymous, answering questions in a different context, I’m confronted with an awful truth: I am not who I think I am. Nor am I who you think I am. I’m much, much worse. I’m much more lost, much less disciplined, much more screwed up than I allow myself to admit.

Years ago I read a great op-ed piece in Entertainment Weekly about Netflix. The author talked about how seldom he feels like watching the DVDs that come in the mail, prompting him to wonder what he was thinking when he added them to his queue weeks ago. His conclusion was that he’s two people: the movie watcher he wishes he was, someone who enjoys sophisticated, artful fare like A Trip to Bountiful and Tree of Life—and then there’s the movie watcher he is, who, let’s face it, would rather turn off his brain and watch Die Hard and Terminator 2. It’s true of all of us, isn’t it? I love good books, and count Frederick Buechner, Wendell Berry, C. S. Lewis and the like as my favorite authors—but I read those as a discipline, because I know they’ll be good for me. Yet there’s this other part of me that would rather just burn through sci-fi/fantasy novels that have no more literary value than an episode of CSI. I want to be a healthy eater and I truly love sushi; but man, I can down a deep dish Jet’s Pizza in a way that would shock Marlon Brando.

So who am I? That’s the question. Am I the sophisticated art consumer or the brain-dead entertainment glutton? Am I a singer/songwriter with self-control, insight, and integrity or am I a broken man with bad knees and worse habits? The answer is probably more complicated than space allows. In some mysterious way, the answer is both. Maybe the person I wish I were is a projection of the Holy Spirit, calling me upward. Discipline is good. But it’s dangerous to forget how much I need Jesus. It’s like budgeting. Whenever Jamie and I run out of money before the end of the month we always throw our hands in the air and say, “Where did it all GO?” Then we look over the bank statement and remember that we ate out several times, had a few doctor bills, fixed the transmission, bought that one thing that we needed for that other thing, and suddenly it’s clear that we were living beyond our means. It’s easy at the beginning of the month to ignore the awful truth that we are not zillionaires. But at the end of the month, there’s a reckoning. (Of course, in this analogy God’s mercy settles the account. Every time.)

But you see, the story we tell ourselves is skewed. There comes a time when we need to sit and take account of how we’re spending our lives, like at the doctor’s office or with the budget, and be reminded that we are not who we think we are. We need Jesus more than we allow ourselves to admit. We are not really so much better than the people around us whose lives are so obviously messy. In fact, we’re not better at all. They may in fact be closer to the heart of Jesus because they are humble enough to admit to themselves that they need help, humble enough to answer the hard questions about their weakness boldly. And humility is a way of dying; it is the crucifixion of our false selves. Humility and death go hand in hand. It is exemplified in Christ, who humbled himself even unto death on a cross.

I saw the great Garrison Keillor at the Ryman Auditorium a few years ago when A Prairie Home Companion came through town, and was struck by how comfortable he was in his own skin. He has one of the most recognizable voices in radio history and has been entertaining us for decades—but he has, as they say, a face for radio. He’s not an attractive man. His eyes are bulgy, his nose is a little too small, he’s gangly, he hunches, and though his speaking voice is magical his singing voice is about as plain as you could imagine. But when he steps out onto the stage in his suit and bright red sneakers, he shines. He dances around as awkward as a goose on stilts, singing badly and looking odd—but he’s so joyful, so clearly doing what he loves to do, that he doesn’t care how weird he looks. He doesn’t care about his shortcomings. He’s delighted to be alive and doing something he was made to do. I looked around at the audience and saw that his joy was contagious. Every face was smiling, enjoying the beauty of someone who had made peace with who he was. At some point he may have cursed the way he was made, but now he celebrated it and we celebrated with him.

Jesus is making us into something. C. S. Lewis wrote that God is making us into “little Christs.” We all ache for the day when we’ll be free of our sins, our bad habits, our bitterness, the things about us that we think ugly or undesirable. But perhaps the road of sanctification will be an easier one when we recognize in ourselves the sin of self-consciousness, the sin of reputation management, the sin of lying to ourselves. To live our lives with a pretense of self-sufficiency, strength, and have-it-togetherness is to diminish the visible work of God’s grace. One of your greatest blessings to the community around you may be your utter brokenness, it may be something about yourself that you loathe, but which Christ will use for his glory. When Jesus is Lord of our brokenness we are free to rejoice in the mighty work he has yet to do in us. We are free to enter the stage in the face of the devil’s accusation, “You’re not good enough.”

The Christian’s answer: “Exactly!”

And we dance.

(This was first published on NRT.com’s website a few months back.)

As a singer-songwriter and recording artist, Andrew has released more than ten records over the past fifteen years. His music has earned him a reputation for writing songs that connect with his listeners in ways equally powerful, poetic, and intimate. He has also followed his gifts into the realm of publishing. His books include the four volumes of the award-winning Wingfeather Saga.


49 Comments

  1. Dan R.

    One of the biggest things I took away from reading through Flannery O’Conner’s short stories this Spring was the strong sense that everyone, no matter how well-put-together they appear, is in this position to a similar degree to the one you wrote about: needing Christ more than they let themselves admit. For some reason (likely related to the “sin of self-consciousness”) that seems to make it easier to admit the truth to my self that when I tell myself that “skewed” story, far from making it easier to fit in with what I think is expected from who I would like to be, I’m driving a wedge between the ‘me’ I present to the world and the reality of who every other person my life touches really is.

    Maybe every doctor’s office should have one of those questionaires posted on the wall with the doctor’s own answers filled in to make it easier for people entering that environment to remember all this. Thanks for writing this; it rang true for/with me in so many ways.

  2. Kyle Carlson

    Love. It. And reminded of this words from Rich:

    “We are frail, we are fearfully and wonderfully made
    Forged in the fires of human passion
    Choking on the fumes of selfish rage
    What with these our hells and our heavens so few inches apart
    We must be awfully small and not as strong as we think we are”

  3. Will Livingston

    Great stuff Andrew…

    Brings to mind a letter from Luther…

    “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but
    the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the
    true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only
    imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let
    your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the
    victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we
    are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We,
    however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new
    heaven and a new earth where justice will reign. It suffices that
    through God’s glory we have recognized the Lamb who takes away the
    sin of the world. No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to
    kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day. Do you think
    such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meager
    sacrifice for our sins? Pray hard for you are quite a sinner.”

    On the day of the Feast of St. Peter the Apostle, 1521

  4. Brenda Branson

    Great article, AP! “We all ache for the day” reminds me of the lyrics in one of my friend Todd Agnew’s songs (There’s Coming A Day) which says, “And my reproach He finally takes away.” http://youtu.be/twTc3mBbz10

    Most people can hide their “reproach” but I carry my fat suit around every day for everyone to see, many times through eyes of revulsion and disgust. It will be a great day when “my reproach He finally takes away.”

    Thanks for the part about Garrison Keillor and his delight to be alive regardless of how he looks. Very encouraging, life-giving words!

  5. Jenn

    Thank you. Just, thank you for this. My heart needed the reminder. In the out-in-front entertainment-type business, it’s hard not to take the smoke and mirrors mentality into the rest of life. I’m glad to hear someone else articulate it — that the songs (books, poems, etc.) are the “cry for help” from the artist’s heart and are (unfortunately) sometimes the most telling thing about her/him. Good therapy, nonetheless. 😉 Many blessings.

  6. Glenn

    Thanks, Andrew. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – identity-type stuff, fully understanding who you are, and like you said, coming clean with it, the bit about the tension between the person you want to be and the person you are is a lifelong tension. The way I’ve been thinking about it lately is how vital it is to our own development as artists that we understand our limitations. I’ve got a buddy who runs marathons, and he was telling me yesterday that he has finally gotten to the point in his development as a runner that he knows exactly what time he should expect himself to run, and he’s comfortable with that. “I’m never going to be the guy who runs it in 2 hours, 30 minutes,” he told me. He understands shaving even 10 minutes off his time isn’t going to happen. And he’s good with that. I guess maybe he knows what sort of runner he is, he understands his limitations. I think I’m still at the point in my development as an artist that I don’t quite know what I’m capable of, or what my limitations are. That’s exciting, full of possibility. But I think it will also be more exciting once I get to the point that I am so comfortable in my artistic skin that I know when I sit down to bang out a novel what my limitations are. I guess it might provide some parameters so I stay true to who I am as an artist, maybe?

  7. Collin Cockrell

    So more from Rich:

    “If God is good and if life is a gift we’re given from God, then I must learn to accept my life and my quarks, which isn’t to say that you lay down in your sins or weaknesses and wallow, but you begin to recognize that perhaps we’ve been given a particular set of weaknesses because God will in some way find more glory in our overcoming that than He would if we hadn’t had those weaknesses.”

  8. Robyn

    Wow – Timely post! In the past 5 days I’ve experienced two of those things for the first time – Prairie Home Companion/Garrison Keillor live (Saturday – it was on my bucket list, and I’ve listened to him on npr pretty much since birth, which was not too many years after the show originally began!;) – his storytelling is beyond magical 🙂 ), and a visit to a Christian counselor (yesterday – which I scheduled an hour away from the town I live in and the church where I work, so no one would know me and *gasp* find out that I was completely overwhelmed with… everything).

    It’s a lot less lonely realizing that there are kindred spirits out there, and thanks for the much needed push to exit pretense and reputation-management mode. I operate there waaaay too often.

  9. Loren Warnemuende

    Yep. I can relate. That tension between what I want people to see and what I see in myself is exhausting at times.

    But then sometimes there is a flip side that takes me by surprise. It’s the comment/complement from another who seems to see something pretty amazing in me–a godly quality that seems too good to be true. I have a hard time accepting that; I’m convinced the person is either deluded, or if it actually IS true I will get a big head if I acknowledge it. I guess I find rest in that tension by realizing that somehow, despite me, Christ has shone through. And that’s a pretty awesome thing.

    I think many of us could say that about you and so many here in the Rabbit Room, Andrew. Christ is shining through.

  10. Carl A.

    Yes, Kyle, this post reminded me of that Rich Mullins song as well. Another great one is Jill Phillip’s “Nobody’s Got It All Together.”

    Some of my favorite lyrics:

    “I have seen the darkness of my heart
    And found a love that’s shown me it’s too hard
    To walk through life and not let down my guard
    What good is it to say “Please Savior come”
    If there is nothing you need rescue from
    Life is something no one has a corner on

    Don’t whitewash the truth about yourself ’cause
    Nobody’s got it all together
    If you want to be like everyone else, well
    Nobody’s got it all together”

  11. Heidi

    I do wish I could keep the mask lowered and the truth out there for all… but especially for me. The truth about self. It’s been a long time coming but I can begin to see that it’s my real self He loves and my real self He uses. That ‘actor’ self was not in touch with her alcoholism, her prideful ways, her sin. The money I made being clever and profound on stage only marks my lack of humility in the hundreds. No Quickbooks program is going to tally my loss. I thank God for helping me find the way back to Him before I self-destructed. The slope to self-deception is icy-slick. I was at the bottom before I knew I had crested the hill.

    Your specific examples are excellent. Your message is heart-felt. Thank you.

  12. Bruce Hennigan

    I am a doctor. What “House” said is true. Everyone lies. We lie to ourselves. We lie to God. But, it is hard to lie to a doctor. As a radiologist, it is very hard to lie to me. I have Xray vision! I can see the truth inside of us all! It’s not pretty. It’s devastating. Particularly when those “visions” are of myself!
    I did two years of counseling. Why should your doctor know that? Because it is very, very hard to lie to a counselor! If you’ve had counseling, the jig is up. The doctor will know you’ve come clean (hopefully) before. It makes it easier to break the ice.
    The most important thing I learned from my counselor was to ask the question “What is the lie?” Isn’t that interesting in context of your post? The implication is we live in the midst of lies; of untruths that somehow we use to build our own world of “truth”. And yet, in the morass of our rationalizations, we flounder because we hide the truth about ourselves from ourselves.
    Here is the thrust. Who is the father of lies? Not me. Not God. Satan. With that realization, we understand the admonition that “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free”.
    As I grow older and I put on the papery gown and sit on a fellow doctor’s table waiting for my examination, I begin to understand this odd mix of lies and truth that we live in on this world. Thank God there is a new country waiting where truth is kind and lies are as distant as the stars and we will be free of this conflict as we sit at the feet of the ultimate Truth and bask in His glory and love!
    Thanks for the wondrous post.

  13. Jeanine

    I read this when it was posted on the other website and enjoyed reading it again, especially as I am smack dab in the middle of Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning (which is changing my life). Wow, how desperately I struggle to just be real and not put on a “calm mother of 5” mask! If people saw the me that my kids see, well, I’d hear a lot less of “Wow, how do you do it all?”
    Because I don’t.
    In the words of Mr. Manning…All is grace.

  14. Donna Rowe

    Andrew, you speak of so many of the things we all do and feel. Thank you for putting this in writing and causing me to look at myself more truthfully.

  15. Molly

    Thank you so much for this, it is very timely. : ) Last Sunday I was the most vulnerable I have ever been about some of the uglier parts of my life in a pretty public forum. I felt strongly that was what God wanted me to do, and wasn’t freaked out at the time, but then spent the next two days having panic attacks that people had seen who I really was, and it wasn’t the pretty version I usually present.

    So this reminder, especially “To live our lives with a pretense of self-sufficiency, strength, and have-it-togetherness is to diminish the visible work of God’s grace. One of your greatest blessings to the community around you may be your utter brokenness, it may be something about yourself that you loathe, but which Christ will use for his glory” is so comforting and exactly what I needed to hear.

    Thank you for using your gifts to encourage others.

  16. Julie Silander

    Andrew – You are crazy talented in the music and writing arena. But this (truth) is at the heart of why people love you.

    You’re willing to put skin on one of my favorite Nouwen quotes:

    “Our brokenness reveals something about who we are. Our sufferings and pains are not simply bothersome interruptions of our lives; rather, they touch us in our uniqueness and our most intimate individuality. The way I am broken tells you something unique about me. The way you are broken tells me something unique about you. That is the reason for my feeling very privileged when you freely share some of your deep pain with me, and that is why it is an expression of my trust in you when I disclose to you something of my vulnerable side.”

    I continue to be grateful for the honest and life-giving culture that you, and so many others, have cultivated in this community.

  17. LauraP

    Oh Julie, that quote! Fantastic. Thanks for sharing it here.

    I, too, am so grateful for the honest and life-giving culture of this community, and for how it is embodied both online and increasingly in flesh and bone.

  18. Jaclyn

    Thank you for this, Andrew! And hello, fellow liars and hiders! I so appreciate all the wonderful quotes and stories you’ve shared.

    I just had this same humbling experience in a doctor’s office today. To tell the truth, I’ve been very sick for months, possibly years, but have never thought I was “sick enough” to ask for treatment except when my health has deteriorated into acute illnesses. It felt more righteous to just carry on feeling mildly unwell. After all, “everyone else” seems to have it “all together.” Other people can tough these things out.

    Thankfully, God brought me to a doctor who mercifully explained that many people, like myself, get used to living with sicknesses. People, like the asthmatic woman who swears she isn’t short of breath, yet sends her daughter to fetch the mail, forget what it’s like to be well.

    This struck me as such a stinging illustration of not only my physical condition, but my heart condition. Ever since I met Jesus, I’ve consistently come to the conclusion that I’m “cured” spiritually and emotionally, and ready to be one of the Christian rescuers. And while I know that God has called me to good works (Ephesians 4:8-9), he hasn’t called them to me because I’m now suddenly qualified for the job. I’m still broken and sick in heart, and only slowly being repaired and nursed back to health. There does exist a whole, healthy me that God is changing me into, but I have not yet transformed into the pristine state of wellness. For now, I patiently heal, never losing hope in the Healer, or giving up on following His prescribed remedies.

  19. Sadie

    The beginning of this reminds me of a song (posted at the end of this paragraph). I think the guy who wrote this one has some of the guts you were talking about – the kind that show you someone who is willing to be admit that they, too, are a sinner in need of a Savior – but still finds a reason to rejoice in the end. Thank you for the post.

  20. Matthew Loftus

    This was really fantastic. Thank you for sharing! I may try to share it with some of my patients or fellow doctors!

    To answer your question– building on what Bruce Hennigan said above– so, so many problems that people come to a doctor for have a physical & psychological/mental/spiritual/emotional component to them. It’s crucial for us to know that part of a patient’s history so we can know if someone has dealt with issues in the past or is dealing with issues now. Also, if we find something that would benefit from counseling, it’s helpful to know if you’ve had a good relationship with a counselor before that we can encourage you to go back to.

  21. Rachel

    I hear the Savior say, “Thy strength, indeed, is small.
    Child of Weakness, watch and pray.”
    Find in Me thine all in all.”

  22. David

    Andrew – Just wondering… Are you a fan of Richard Adams; specifically “Watership Down”?

    I caught your show in Russellville last Sunday and something I heard or read made me think of this.

    God bless

  23. Bruce Hennigan

    Thanks for the comments, Matthew.
    I am reminded of a tool I developed when working through my depression. God led me to do my own spiritual “history and physical”. I took the questions Andrew had to answer about my physical condition and adapted them for my spiritual condition. Having a regular inventory of my spiritual “H&P” kept me aware of where in my spiritual walk with God I was slipping.
    The endeavor helped me keep a steady finger on my spiritual pulse, so to speak. Like Andrew said, when you have to be honest, it’s hard to hide the sickness in you soul from the Great Physician!

  24. Melissa

    Wow, just wow! How amazingly enlightening. I found you through a friend who I met via blogs. She posted your blog-post on Google+. What perfect timing too! I write STRAIGHT from the heart. I am not a person to hold back my feelings, nor do I hold back my disdain for people who “seem” to have it all together. (Sorry, present company excluded INDEED!) In fact, I just posted something to that effect (or, wait, I’m getting ready to post something to that effect). I consider myself a waffling adult. Halfway between tugged by the past hurts (or HURRY UP AND CATCH-UPS) and the current and future hopefulness. And so … we’re all doing our best. I’m glad to see that it’s absolutely fine to be ALL that you are. I feel more connected to people who tell me a little of the wobbly stuff. Thank you!

  25. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    AP, beautiful. In order for us to begin to see and live from the true self, we have to first see the false – not because God is rubbing our noses in it, but because we are deluded. I think the first step to that is looking straight at our own sins as believers, just as unbelievers coming to Christ we saw our sinfulness. As a guitarist, if I don’t look squarely at where I am, I can’t map out clearly where I want to go. I’ve been taking a jazz improvisation course lately and what it has shown me first is how much I don’t yet know. But that is the exciting thing, isn’t it? It means there are undeveloped potentials, unawakened aspects of my playing. I could delude myself, and live in the delusion that I’m all the player I was created to be, feeding off past victories. But that always ends up in a sinkhole.

    The beautiful thing about grace (such an abused, catch-all word) is that it is always there, first washing away sins, and secondly causing us to see in increasing measure that the root of sin in us has been plucked out. To know that is to live in burgeoning freedom, widening horizons, and bright hopes.

    Two quotes from Dan Stone, The Rest of the Gospel (When the Partial Gospel Has Worn You Out)
    “Somewhere along the way we got saved and our sins were forgiven. And we wanted to live this thing called the Christian life, but we didn’t know how to live out of our new spirit. So we fell back upon our only other resource: the false self. It knew how to get along in the world. We just made a few adjustments to fit the Christian scene. We were sitting ducks for the how-to books, which told us how to manipulate the false self to make it more effective in getting along.”

    And this:
    “Living in the soul-life is always the temptation. Being a pastor, I was prone to live in a religious soul-life. I drew my identity from religious externals. They looked good and proper and seemed like a worthwhile thing to draw my identity from. It’s hard to avoid that trap. There’s nothing wrong with being involved in the religious world, if it’s not giving you your identity. If it is, it’s an idol. It’s telling you something external about yourself. But we can truthfully say, ‘I’m not an external person. I’m an internal person that does some external things. But I’m not doing these external things to tell me who I am.

    “Any activity that’s giving you your identity is an idol and is only contributing to the false self. Our false self thinks it needs external things or activities to give it life. It wants the stroking, the external affirmation, the place of authority, or the public place to make pronouncements. We are dangerous living out of our flesh, because we’re using others to validate us. But when we no longer need those externals – when who we are in Christ and who He is in us has become foundational truth in our life – then we can handle the externals, because we don’t need them for identity.”

    ”God will take us through situations again and again to bring us to the place where He is our total life, where we are living out of our true identity. Once we are, He can give us back the external things. He put me back in the world of religion. At that point I was safe there, because it had ceased to be a place of identity for me. It was simply a place of service, where His life was to be poured out through me for others.”

    Also, the great theologian Mick Goodrick (jazz guitarist and writer of “The Advancing Guitarist”) said, “From one standpoint, no one knows your playing better than you (and never will)! From another standpoint, everyone else knows your playing better than you (and always will)!”

  26. Jim

    Thank you AP for writing this! It resonates with my heart recently. On April 17, i had a seizure while driving, resulting in a very serious single car crash where by God’s grace and mercy alone I survived and did not injure anyone else in the process. I do not recall the accident myself but was told, and by the photos taken at the scene that I should have died from several different impacts and subsequent impacts. Most assuredly I should not be alive today. Even yet today, 23 days later, the only major physical injuries I sustained there were mostly a fractured sternum, clavicle, bruises and concussions and minor lacerations. No leg injuries. Depite obvious sigificant pain, I’ve had a subsequent seizure and liver enzyme complications that remain a mystery, but the of fact is The Lord God spared my life. A grace upon grace I still cannot fathom in my mind. As you wrote about the Dr form, I too had to fill out one of those forms yesterday at an appointment(one of your Hutchmoot attendees, Mandy wrote about it last night in my CaringBridge site http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jimporett1/journal simple login needed to view).
    I had to also think harder than normal about the boxes I checked. Because I too was no longer ignoring most of the ailments. I actually had them. So that form was another reminder from God to me that He is in control not me. Plus actually I should be dead right now. But God’s plan was otherwise. And He wants me lead. and i need to let Him. Grace and Peace.

  27. Mike

    We’ve all been consigned to disobedience so that God can show us mercy. Romans 11:32

    That’s who we all are, but only God wants us to be honest about it.
    Everyone else prefers the pseudo-self.

  28. Lindsey Murphy

    I read this a few days ago, and it keeps rolling around in my heart, coming to mind throughout the day. I’ve been waiting to comment until I had something worthwhile to say, but we’ll leave it at “thank you” and “well said!”

  29. Bryn Gillette

    Hi Andrew, thanks for being so transparent in this post. As a man and husband and father, I too am not the man I want to be, and yet not the man yet that I am becoming… thank you Holy Spirit! As someone who’s gone through bouts of bi-polar, I too have been forced to face the saddening reality of my fragile state, and the reciprocal reality of God’s beautiful strength in my weakness.

    As an introduction: I am an artist, and a frequent worship painter at Walnut Hill Community Church in Bethel, CT. I had the privilege of seeing you in concert there several years back and have enjoy the album of that tour ever since. I find my role as a prophetic artist to be that of someone who stands with my Family at church, peering beyond the veil of this mortal moment, asking God what is His heart for our Family. In collaboration with the teaching, with our 24/7 prayer ministry, and most especially with the worship, I then paint the echoes, the glimpses of what the Holy Spirit reveals to our community.

    Blog post of my “Carry the Fire” picture: [sorry I can’t make the link live here:]
    http://artbybryn.com/Artbybryn.com/Live_Painting/Entries/2013/5/5_Carry_the_fire.html

    I say all this because recently my brother in law gave me a birthday gift of your new “Light for the Lost Boy” album, and I’ve been dumb stuck and in tears with the echoing beauty of God’s Kingdom revealed through this vulnerable heart of yours. Last Sunday I ended up painting an image borne of “Carry the Fire” in just over an hour… it was just bursting to get out of me. This week I will actually perform “You’ll Find Your Way” with a group of students at my school in NY to the graduating seniors, and it is my prayer to paint an accompanying image that song as well. As a dad of three- two of them sons, I can viscerally feel the emotions of the song both as dad and as son, and I cannot get the image of “lashing our heart to the ancient mast” out of my mind. Thank you brother for these rich images!

    I live in western CT and am familiar with Chris Barrett who is hosting your June 1st performance at the Community Coffee Shop in Danbury. If possible, I’d love to come to your concerts and have a chance to meet you. I sense we will meet each other like long lost brothers, sharing the same Kingdom DNA. I’d love the opportunity to share my heart and these paintings with you, and on the off chance you are as crazy as I am, I’d be thrilled to be able to serve you by painting live to the music. Several of your new songs are so ripe with visual imagery, and can already see the shadows of the finished images.

    I just worked along side Graham Kendrick at Walnut Hill during Holy Week, and ended up producing 16 images in the eight days between Palm Sunday and Easter. Something new is happening in my own journey with this rich interface of the “3D Gospel”: the Word, song, and image, and I wonder if our paths may parallel one another in this leg of the journey.

    Holy Week Series Blog entries:
    http://artbybryn.com/Artbybryn.com/Holy_Week.html

  30. Colleen Duebber

    Thanks for sharing this. I often feel similarly. I have taken blogs public and private so many times…back and forth because of a sudden onset of vulnerable feelings. I always end up opening them up again, because I desire to openly and sometimes very uncomfortably be transparent about what struggles go on in me…a Christian. God knows how we feel, no matter what we’re hesitant to admit or share. I hope others read this and begin to feel more comfortable in who they are right now – volatile or calm waters – knowing that Jesus couldn’t love them any less! He came for the weak, the sick, the sinners, the strugglers! Hallelujah! When we share who we really are and what God is really doing in us and for us, He gets even more glory.

  31. B Michalsky

    This past year has been the hardest in my life, for several reasons. I have found myself “defending” my brokenness, sorrows, and pain with many a “I used to be stronger than this…I haven’t always been this weak.” It is a pretty story, but it is not true. The grim nature of this year has merely highlighted my farce, my lack of self-sufficiency. Humility is truly a death, one in which you cry, “Have mercy on me, a sinner!” and realize, He has, and He does.

    Thank you for your words, and for your humility.

  32. Parker family

    Just goes to prove the pastoral tendencies we feel blessed by when we listen to the music. The somgs only scratch the aurface of what God has to offer many through mr. A.P.
    so blessed by this insight and gospel truth. Thank you!

If you have a Rabbit Room account, log in here to comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *