“Does anything jump out at you?” the resort’s activities director asked.
My sister had invited Steve and me to stay at her timeshare resort with her and my brother-in-law for a week. My parents also joined us.
It was my first evening there, and Mom and I had come to the pool to look around and spend time in the hot tub. Karaoke was going on. Mom voiced being excited that we’d have entertainment while we soaked. But God was putting a different thought in my mind.
The last time I saw karaoke being performed I had said, “next time I will do that.” It was mostly because I wanted to practice singing in front of people since God had called me to minister with songs. Sometimes I felt upset about this calling since I’m not blessed with an “American Idol” kind of voice. And I can easily slip into seeing myself like one of those contestants auditioning early on the show who can barely carry a tune. But with practice, it seemed my voice was improving. Still I often battled lack of confidence.
As I struggled with my decision while enjoying the hot tub, I remembered God had told me about my singing: “Little is much if God is in it,” and that He didn’t want the people’s attention on me, but on Him.
After getting out of the hot tub and drying off, I looked through the songs in the notebook on the table. Maybe I could find an inspirational tune that spoke a truth and subtly pointed toward God.
“Are you really going to do this?” my mother asked, a bit shocked because she tended to be timid in front of people.
“Yes, Mom, I’d really like to do this” or maybe I should have said, “I need to do this to overcome my fear of performing in front of people and of saying ‘yes’ to the Lord.”
Around thirty tourists sat poolside in lounge chairs while others frolicked in the pool. A middle-aged woman was presently singing, “The Midnight Train to Georgia.” She was struggling some, but making it through.
What could I sing? I mostly sang spiritual songs but had learned some oldies for mental health patients that I sang to during informal music therapy groups. Suddenly I longed for the security of my guitar and the walls of a room.
Are there any songs in here that I could sing? I wondered as I continued to turn the pages in the karaoke notebook where hundreds of songs were listed.
Then a song did pop out at me. It was listed in the section with the Alan Jackson songs. I didn’t expect to find a Christian song. For a moment I wondered if people would be offended if I sang what some would call a churchy song.
But hadn’t I been praying about how to minister to people while I was on vacation? And hadn’t I also prayed I could keep God at the center of my life—even while traveling? Here was an excellent opportunity. It would be the first time I had sung in my bathing suit which I still had on underneath my cover-up. I had considered going up to our suite and changing, but then I might chicken out.
“Next we have Elaine,” came the announcement.
And so I sang “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” to a group of vacationers in Orlando, Florida praying that someone or even many someones in that group would be blessed to be reminded of that truth or to hear it for the first time. And even though I felt I was singing off key at times and had a hard time hearing the melody on the machine, I knew my singing at that moment was a spiritual victory.
People applauded after the song, and I felt relieved to have made it through. I also felt blessed that God had given me the opportunity to tell a group of strangers about Him in a song and that I had not let fear keep me from it.
Two evenings later at the next Karaoke night, I went down and found another Christian song in the book, “In The Garden,” which was in the Loretta Lynn section of songs. This song is one of my favorites, and it felt a little easier to sing that time.
I pray God will help me to stay open to presenting Him to the world—no matter where I am and no matter how He tells me to do it.
Here is Alan Jackson’s version of “What A Friend We Have In Jesus:”