Free Bird

In a very little while, He who comes will come, and will not wait. But the righteous will live by faith. If he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the saving of the soul. Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof of things not seen. Hebrews 10:37 WEB

I have played bass guitar now for over thirty years. There were some years where I played music for a living and performed around eight shows a week. Then for the next fifteen years, I played in clubs, county fairs, contests, weddings, and parties as a side job.

I started out playing guitar, but when some of us got together to play in a garage band, there were five guitar players and a drummer. It seemed that everyone wanted to play a guitar, so I switched to playing bass. It became an obsession and I often played eight hours a day. To me, a good bass line became the driving force behind the band, the heart beat, and soon groups began to seek me out. Sometimes I shuffled three bands at a time.

After getting serious with God, I began praying about quitting the bands and bars but I felt 'No.' It was a difficult time in my life, especially on Saturday. I would work a 12 hour shift at work, from 7AM to 7PM, then play music from 10PM till 2AM sometimes an hour away, pack up a trailer full of equipment, then drive home. Sometimes when I would get home, the sun would be coming up. Then I needed to be at the church praise and worship practice at 8AM. Some Sunday mornings, I would just get a shower and go onto church red eyed and weary.

Each time that I prayed about quitting, the Lord would say 'No.' My mind kept telling me that this could not be God's will for me to continue playing in bars, and maybe I was just hearing Him wrong. So I came up with a way to ask my pastor, who heard from God far better than I did, but without tainting the answer.

If you ask any pastor 'Should I be playing music in bars?' most are going to immediately tell you no, but I didn't want his opinion, I wanted a confirmation from the Lord. So I prayed first and told the Lord my question in secret: 'Should I leave the band?' I firmly decided that if the pastor tells me yes then I am leaving this band, if he tells me no, then I am going to stay.

Then I asked my pastor, 'Pastor, I have a question and need to make a decision, Yes or No?' He liked these kind of questions because it did not complicate things. He prayed for a moment and said 'No, not at this time.' I had my confirmation, so I continued playing the bars, though I did not understand any of it. I always felt funny when I was on stage in a bar playing music and someone from the church would walk in. The look on their face was priceless when they saw me. I don't know if it was the shock of them seeing me, or knowing that I saw them.

There was a guitar player in our band, one of the best that I have ever played with. He played with such feeling and would close his eyes, then go into a lead that would give you shivers. He was in his forties and had never been into church or been saved. His parents were Christians, and his wife, but he had no interest in their religion whatsoever. He was completely closed off to their witnessing and their words had no effect. I guess that he had heard it all of his life and as far as I know, he had never been to church as an adult.

I was going to Bible College at the time, working everyday, and playing music at night. Occasionally I might mention something that the Lord had done for me, but I was not preachy. I was just a fellow musician, one of band.

One night while we were on stage in a bar playing music, I felt the Holy Spirit descend on me like a warm blanket. It was unmistakable, and I have rarely felt His presence that strong. I think that we were in the middle of Skynerd's Free Bird, and the Holy Spirit was the last thing that I had expected to show up. I recognized His presence and asked 'Lord, what are You doing here?' Then scriptures started coming to me, and the guitar player seemed to illuminate and caught my attention. It is a bit hard to explain, but I knew that these scriptures were for him.

I thought this over a moment and told the Lord: 'Break time is coming up and the band will go to the bar for a drink. I will go out, sit in my car and read my Bible. If you want me to give him these scriptures, then send him out to my car.' Now it is a time honored tradition for the band to huddle at the bar during a break, so if he came outside, it would be abnormal.

When break time came, the band went to the bar, and I went out to sit in my car. I opened my Bible to the scripture that the Holy Spirit gave me and read over it. In a few moments there was a tap on the window, it was the guitar player. I got out of the car and he began to ask me some questions about God, and I already had the Bible opened to his answer. So in the early morning, I stood out in the parking lot of a bar and shared an inspired word with him from the Lord. As I read the scriptures, he began trembling under conviction, and it continued on until I saw him again that Wednesday night at practice.

When I showed up for practice, he was there waiting for me. I had never seen anyone under that much conviction before. He was trembling all over with tears in his eyes. He told me that he had been that way since Saturday night, he couldn't sleep, he couldn't eat, and he couldn't stop shaking. He walked up to me and said 'Dion, I want what you have. Pray for my soul.' We knelt down together in the practice shed and I led him through a prayer. He came up with a smile beaming from ear to ear. His heavy burden was gone. He was now as free as a bird. Then the Lord released me from the band. He had kept me there to reach that one lost sheep.

Do not let your religion come between you and the Lord, and don't get out in front of Him. 'What would Jesus do' is often much different than what our natural mind would think. Every person out there is so important to God, and He is so concerned with reaching the lost that He will put you anywhere they are. We do not have to understand why. We just need to trust that He knows best and follow Him one day at a time, even when we do not understand where He is leading us. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. When you work with Him, don't be surprised if you see them gathering around you.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I want more of You in my life. I want to live the real thing and not just talk. Fill me with Your presence to overflowing. Deliver me from the things that hold me back. Set me free from the burdens that I carry and use me to reach others, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

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