Although performing songwriters (and other artists) have been hit hard with this whole social distancing thing, we’re no strangers to uncertainty. We’re used to praying for work. We’re scrappy. We’re innovative. And we receive help gratefully. We’re no longer horrified when a payment has to be made late, nor shocked when that payment shows up from an unexpected source.
I get it. Jeff and I have lost TEN gigs so far, which pretty much means our income is suspended. But yesterday, after an online show, we received a $200 tip from a single contributor.
Today I gather the gift of dauntless daffodils, because the irrepressible Spring snubs its nose at COVID-19. I watch the birds out there finding their meals, and I’m reminded of what Jesus said. “If the Father clothes the fields like that, will he not clothe you? And if he feeds the birds like that, will he not feed you? Are you not worth more than many birds?” (I always giggle at the question. How many birds are we worth?)
Ten years into our marriage, after Jeff and I released our twins into the world, we released our seventh album, Come Undone. Touring behind the record was nearly impossible. Suddenly, living hand to mouth as traveling musicians was not the fun adventure we’d signed up for. It felt scary and irresponsible. But we believed we were called to create, so we prayed to God, sometimes argued. If you want us to do this, you gotta make it work.
Anyway, we had been afraid at times before that. When we took on a mortgage, for instance. We prayed then! Benefactors appeared. Often in the most curious of forms. Gigs from old friends who happened to remember us. The IRS deciding we’d overpaid. Hundreds of dollars rolled in a rubber band, placed in a tip jar by a stranger at a thankless gig. And, oh, our dear parents.
God may choose to let us fall into financial ruin. Certainly people far more talented, dedicated, and deserving than we are have. So far, though, he has answered our desperate prayers with precise provision. Makes me think of that story in Daniel 3 of the three men about to be burned to death. They said to the king, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us, and he will deliver us…But even if he does not…“
That’s what people need us to explore, by the way. What if he does not? What will or won’t be left if everything that can be taken away is? That’s your song. Your painting. Your story. So stop worrying about the bills (when has that ever been what drove your art?) and get back to work (Unless worrying is what forces the art to happen. Then…carry on).
But back to the furnace story: “Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, ‘Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire? Look! I see four men now, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods. Praise be to God, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants!'”
One last thing. (I know. I’m supposed to be concise.) (And I’m not supposed to be preachy.) But Jesus is called Emmanuel. It means God With Us. Just as the angel was in the fire with those men, he is here with us in our little furnace now. And so we pray. And we get back to work.