Torch, Summer 1981

In the years that followed, I graduated from college, got a teaching job, and for approximately 4 1/2 years did not perform. Perhaps God was testing my sincerity. Was I willing to put Him first? Was I interested in doing His will? Now, my desire is to love and serve the Lord. I teach at Cedarville College, and since God is first in my life, He has given back to me that which I thought I would never again experience- the opportunity to perform. As first chair trumpet player in the Dayton Philharmonic and Springfield Symphony orchestras, I have come to realize that God has given us the beautiful gift of music, and its performance can bring glory to Him. Colossians 3:23 states, "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men." As I play my best, God is glorified whether the music is by Bach, Beethoven, or Fanny Crosby. Granted, the effect upon the audience is greater for Christ if the music is spiritual in nature; but as a performer, I definitely believe that my playing of secular music can have an effect for God upon my fellow musicians . For a period of time, I shared a commonly held idea about musicians that they are worldly, hardened to the gospel, and not receptive to spiritual things. True, all without Christ live worldly lives, but the professional musician, especially, loves his parties and his socializing. He wants to experience everything in life simply for the thrill of it. But there is something within musicians that makes them special to me. Inside the musician is the gift of musical talent. Not only do I love music, but I have a love for the professional musician. There is an amazingly transparent quality characteristic of most musicians that provides an avenue of approach. This quality is that of being a seeker. The musician is constantly seeking acceptance. He desires the approval of his audience, his fellow performers, and his conductor. His life's work is to impress others. He seeks success; he wants to be the best at what he does. Due to this incessant seeking and the extreme pressure of being in a continuous "spotlight," the performer's life is a series of peaks and valleys. If he performs well, he is "higher than a kite." However, if he "blows it," he is destroyed . It is at times like this when he begins to talk of selling insurance or opening a laundromat. This emotional instability makes the musician quite negative and critical, insensitive and self-centered. He is hardly ever at peace with himself. One day God opened my eyes to see that these talented musicians all around me were lost. I saw past their talent to see how desperately they needed Christ as their Savior. But, at the same time, knowing how special a breed musicians are and considering their pride and egocentricity, I could not just hit them on the head with the gospel. I had to gain credibility with them- respect, if you will. Respect among musicians is only gained as they sense that a fellow musician has progressed with his talent through diligent practice and performance. Once a musician's critical approval is won, he will at least listen to a witness for Christ. This is not to say that a Christian musician has to be first chair in the orchestra or the best in the world before anyone will listen to him. But he must be the best that he can be at this point in time. I was able to establish a close relationship with one of the musicians in the orchestra. The gate to our friendship was established through mutual, professional admiration of each other's talents. He was a party-goer and wrapped up in all the thrills the world could offer. My references to Christ as the ultimate source ofmy abilities really struck a chord with him. He began to watch me at rehearsal to see if I would lose my cool over a mistake. As he observed the inner peace that I had, he realized that he lacked this in his heart. Before long he felt confident enough to begin sharing with me some of his personal problems. What evolved was a clear opportunity to present Christ as the Savior of his soul and the strength for his problems . His pride and self-reliance prolonged his decision, but it is hard to verbalize the joy I felt when he finally submitted to the Lordship of Christ and was saved. Yes, Christians can play secular music and be a witness. It's a trade that must be chosen carefully and prayerfully for dangers do exist. Yet for the Christian who is willing to let God rule his life and his music,_ he can perform heartily to the glory of God. There is much to be done for God in our symphony orchestras. Musicians need saved and others need the strength to publicly profess what Christ has done for them. Music is a joyous gift to mankind and the musician is the special tool used to dispense that gift. What a privilege it is for me to be a musician, but what an honor it is to be one for Jesus Christ. 13