“Well, Lord, I’m here on Clearwater Beach with my guitar, amplifier, microphone, music and a trembling heart.
Having an amp and a mike make this so much scarier.
Help me to sense You right here. May I sense angels singing along.
Calm my shaking heart. Amen.”
That’s what I wrote in my journal this past Wednesday while in the midst of answering God’s call to play my guitar and sing Jesus songs on Clearwater Beach to the tourists walking by.
I had tried to talk God out of going during this busy spring season when traffic and finding a place to park can be horrendous.
Yet hadn’t I just heard a sermon on the radio about going into all the world? Clearwater Beach during spring season does bring tourists from all over the world. That’s exactly when God wanted me to go.
And step by step, He gave me instructions.
Bring the travel guitar. Buy a small battery-operated amplifier to go with it along with an acoustic pick-up. You’ll need something to amplify your voice. (A friend gave me that.)
Find a place to park near the bridge, so you don’t have to drive over. I found an Episcopal church and asked if I could park in their parking lot. The secretary gave me a hearty “yes.”
Ride your bike over.
What? With all of that?
I packed my song notebook, voice amplifier, music stand, and travel guitar in a backpack I borrowed from my granddaughter with the neck of the guitar sticking out and straight up.
I put the amplifier (which was too big for the backpack) in my new Joy FM bag and let it hang from several fingers on my left hand which also clutched the handle bar.
And on Wednesday morning, I made my way over the bridge. I thought of the homeless I see who carry a lot of stuff (often all they own) while riding their bicycles.
The good news is I rode my bike over and thanked God for the crossing which is for bikes and pedestrians, so I did not have to be involved with traffic at all. Once I was on the beach, I found a place to lock my bike, chose my spot along the sidewalk, set everything up, and began to sing with the sound of the waves in the distance and with seagulls flying and the sun shining overhead.
A friend whom I asked to pray for me had said via a text that morning, “You’re courageous.” All I knew is that I wanted to obey. Refusing to seemed much more dangerous than stage fright or worrying what people thought of me and my not-so-American-Idol voice.
Before I finished setting up, a kind man from Michigan stopped to talk to me. He inquired about my small guitar and then turned to talking about where he was from and about Clearwater Beach. He walked away before I could sing him a song.
Scores of people walked by as I sang “What A Friend We Have in Jesus,” “Jesus Paid It All,” and “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” along with many other selections. Few acknowledged my presence. I had a smile from a mom and her son, and he kept turning around to look at me as they walked by.
Then a load of young people in one of those double bicycles that looks like a little car rode by and cheered for me. They rode by again in a little while and cheered again. Were they making fun of me? I wondered, but even if they were, at least I got their attention, and perhaps they heard some truth.
I felt alone and ignored at times, but I knew I was being obedient, and prayed the word “Jesus” would touch many hearts even as the people rushed by to get near the shore, to a restaurant, or back to their cars.
I felt glad God instructed me to get an amplifier for my voice and guitar because the background noise was loud. Construction, airplane, traffic, and people noise competed with my “joyful noise.” I realized that any time we witness on a day-to-day basis there’s lots of noise to compete with—not only the racket of this world but the noise in people’s hearts.
As I continued to play, I thought of how I wanted acknowledgement. I texted a friend, “I feel lonely out here—like someone crying out in the wilderness.” I realized that was a flaw in me. I wanted attention when doing something for the Lord. Pats on the back, and some “aren’t you specials?” would help.
As long as I focused on myself, I felt uncomfortable. As I kept my attention on the wonderful truths of the songs I was singing, I felt joyful and content.
When the heat began to get to me, I packed up my gear and went to a local coffee shop for a sandwich and something refreshing to drink.
Then I headed back to my spot, set up again, and played the same songs I had played earlier. I made the decision to stay until 4:30pm.
In a short time, a young woman came up and tried to hand me some money. I pointed to my Joy FM bag. She placed it in there and smiled. I smiled back as I sang on.
I noticed that people sat on the ledge near me. Lord, let them hear the truth.
Around 4:15, I went over to a woman who sat to my left and handed her a tract and pass-it-on card I made with a poem I wrote on one side and Bible verses on the other. She said, “thank you,” and continued to sit near me. Soon two other women joined her. I gave them some “hand-outs” as well.
“We really like your songs,” one of the women said.
I asked them where they were from. “Texas.” A man joined them—a husband of one of them. We talked for a short time because they said they had to leave soon for the airport. One woman who had recently moved to Tampa gave me her card, and I wrote down all of their names on it. They took a picture of me on my phone, and then asked if they could be in a photo with me. The husband took the photo, and within minutes they and my time of bringing truth through song was gone.
God is calling me to go back to the beach on Good Friday—an excellent day to sing about Jesus and all He’s done for us.
This time I’m looking forward to it. I’m grateful God has called me to this adventure—even if I’m still just a novice as a guitarist and a vocalist. I pray people will hear the sincerity of my heart and the truth about Jesus. I think of the saying, “Little is much if God is in it.”
How about you? Is God calling you to an adventure that seems way out of your comfort zone? Be willing to say “yes.” It may be scary, but God always rewards obedience.
Here’s “Jesus Paid It All” (one of the songs I sang) sung by Bethany, an everyday person like me.
Listen to the words and receive them wholeheartedly.