A few months before taking custody of my kids I joined the worship team at church. I became "the bass player". Everybody on the team was better than me. It was a really good worship team! We enjoyed hours upon hours of God's presence both in church services and in practice. I loved being on that team. We got to do our favorite thing in the whole world - make music. And, as a bonus, God showed up. There simply is nothing like it on earth.
Needless to say, I was committed to this team. We had one practice per week that was two hours long. We had two services per week that were three to four hours long. We had to be at church for these services an hour early. I had to practice at home to keep up.
And we lived an hour's drive away.
It was tough on me but, I had a great payoff. It was even tougher on my kids and all they got out of it was getting yelled at during the very long, very boring car ride.
By the time Fall rolled around everyone was pretty tired of the pace. Then we had a conference at church that lasted four days. On the fourth night, Gabe was sick. He was running a fever. The little boy that was more like Ricochet Rabbit than anyone I had ever met, just wanted to lie there and be left alone.
But I had a commitment.
I told the kids, "if you're sick, church is the place to be, so you can get healed." That's what I had heard from the pulpit many times. I was confident I was in the right. So, I packed everyone in the car and off we went.
When we arrived, I was met by a woman. Let's call her Alice. Alice informed me that it wasnot OK to bring my sick kids to church. It was not OK to put playing bass in a band - even a worship band that was blessed by God - over my children's health and well being. She explained that she would watch Gabe away from the other kids that evening but, that this was never to happen again.
I played that night but, if God showed up, I couldn't tell.
A few weeks later we had a men's retreat. Alice's husband, we'll call him Horace, was an elder in our church. He asked to speak with me. It turned out that he was divorced and remarried. He told me a few personal things about his own situation and encouraged me not to make some of the same mistakes he made. (No, smart alec, Alice was not one of them.)
Then he said, "you know, I've watched you over the last year. You require a lot of yourself and your children. One thing that I would like to encourage you about is: you are doing this alone, now. You're not going to be able to get everything done the way you'd like. The house isn't going to be as clean as you'd like. The laundry won't get done as regularly. There simply is not going to be enough time to do everything everybody wants to do. You are on an unhealthy pace."
That afternoon I resigned from the worship team.
A few interesting things happened after that.
First, the worship team that was already really good before I got there went on being really good with out me. God kept showing up even though I wasn't playing bass.
Second, I spent that extra time with my kids. My oldest son and I started working again on an animation project we had created back in 1999. It never went anywhere but, three weeks after graduating high school he won his first animated short film contest. The next year he won again. Now, at nineteen, he owns his own animation business.
Third, I went back to writing my own worship songs. These turned into countless hours of private time with just me and the Lord. I believe that what others experience when I lead worship now is directly connected with that time.
I tell people not to drop hints with me. If you do, I am likely to bend down, pick it up and say, "excuse me, you dropped this." And I'll have no idea what you were trying to communicate. Alice gave it to me straight. Horace served me a chaser. And my and my children's lives are better for it. At least that's my view from here.