Remember that one time when everything worked perfectly and went according to the plan?

Last week, I served at a conference in Nerja, Spain (not all service is drudgery) by taking a team of musicians to lead worship for international missionaries.

Our travel was beset by cancellations and delays and mis-directed baggage, so we suspected that it wasn’t going to be an easy week. We got set up, worked through several technical glitches, and began planning for the first few conference sessions.

My normal guitar rig (with optional angelic lighting...)
My normal guitar rig (with optional angelic lighting…)

Then, it happened – after working fine for a day or two, my pedalboard (to me, the equivalent of a painter’s palette) fried due to some sort of power conversion issue. All I could get to work was the guitar and ONE amplifier sound.

The style of music we had prepared involves a lot of texture and ambience created by delays and reverb effects, as well as more or less overdriven guitar sounds. With none of that available, I had to re-create my parts (and in some cases, the arrangement of the songs) to make my one sound work, while still creating the energy and contour we wanted for the music.

I felt like a painter who only had one brush and one color to use, for four straight days. The experience showed me some important things:

1) Limited options inspire more creativity than unlimited options.

2) Anything that makes you play simpler, more carefully-composed parts is a good thing.

3) Your audience only cares that you play with creativity and passion. Few people, if any, will ever know or notice what you DON’T have. They’ll just notice what you DO, with what you have.

The only person that knows the difference between what you WANTED to create and what you ACTUALLY created is… you. God is honored by our efforts to do the best we can with what we have available. He doesn’t hold our lack of resources against us, and really, neither do our audiences – as long we we’re playing with creativity and passion.

In a related blog post by my artist/songwriter friend Cathy Howie, she elaborates “…if we have one talent, he [God] doesn’t expect a ten-talent performance.”

To be honest, it wasn’t at all musically debilitating, we served the conference really well, and I sort of enjoyed the challenge.

In talking through the week, our team joked that no one ever reminisces years later by saying “Hey – Do you remember that one time when everything worked perfectly and went according to the plan?”

Yeah. I don’t either.

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