Looking back, I should have told the joke. It would have really underscored what the pastor was saying.
But let me back up a bit.
This past weekend, I unexpectedly received an invitation to lead worship at a men’s retreat for a friend’s church. The person they had lined up got sick at the last minute and they were scrambling to find someone on short notice. My friend contacted me around lunchtime on Friday to ask if I might be available. I wasn’t booked for anything on Sunday morning, and my wife encouraged me to go for it, so I found myself driving north on I-83 late Friday night with my guitar in the back of the van.
Since it was all fairly last-minute, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to plan much. But the theme of the weekend was finding true friendship, so I tried to work around that.
The only person I knew in advance was the friend who invited me. The other guys had no idea who I was, and I didn’t know them. This is where the joke comes in. I thought it might be funny to start the Saturday evening session by saying, “Good news, guys. I spent the afternoon memorizing all your names. Unfortunately, I didn’t know your names, so I just memorized a bunch of names that I made up.”
Not the best material in the world, but not terrible. I decided at the last minute not to say it, because sometimes I’m a terrible judge of my own humor. I chalk that up to watching too much David Letterman during my formative years.
I led the worship set – without the joke – and sat down to listen to my friend teach. And I was floored when he spent a good but of time talking about how important it is for us know that God knows our names. He mentioned it several times. To the point that I started kicking myself, because my joke would have made a pretty good lead-in to his talk.
Then he turned to Romans 8 and told the gathered men that we are more than conquerors. I smiled to myself and thought, “Hmmm, maybe I should have planned to do Rend Collective’s ‘More Than Conquerors’ after his talk.”
But the slides were already done and my iPad was already set up with a different song.
Then he proceeded to say the phrase “more than conquerors” at least twenty more times.
I smiled. Point taken. When he started to pray, I snuck up to the laptop, queued up “More Than Conquerors,” and then did the same on my iPad.
The prayer ended and as I stood in front of several dozen new friends, I began to play the perfect song for the situation.
I guess the lesson here is that I need to learn to listen. You can call it being sensitive to the Spirit or you can call it trusting your gut, but listen to that little voice that sometimes gives you exactly the right thing to say or sing.