My grandmother was in love with Kenny Rogers. I’m assuming she was also in love with my grandfather, but she certainly talked more about Kenny Rogers. The woman who would rather drown newborn puppies than take a dog to the vet would actually blush when she talked about Kenny Rogers. This was serious business.
As you can imagine, I grew up knowing all the words to “The Gambler” and still find myself – much to my children’s dismay – walking around singing “You’ve gotta’ know when to hold ’em. Know when to fold ’em. Know when to walk away. And know when to run.” That Kenny, he sure knew how to spin a tale.
While little kid Amy thought that “The Gambler” was just about, well, gambling, with time I obviously figured out that Kenny was trying to teach us a greater lesson. Sure, it’s important to know when you’ve got a hand worth playing, but moreover you’ve got to learn to be able to distinguish between a challenge that should be tackled and one that should be avoided. A situation with hope of redemption, and a spiritual attack from which you should flee.
I’m here to tell you that I am wholly unable to tell the difference.
Last spring I stepped into the role of worship director at my family’s church, a role that has somewhat morphed into worship director/producer/set designer/carpenter/accompanist/moving man. There have been tons of wins happening around me, wins that I’ve encouraged my senior pastor to celebrate to remind us that some days we do, in fact, post a W. There are also enough holes in this ship that at times I feel like we’re running out of buckets. At the moment I’m finding myself perplexed about a number of situations, and there are days when – in the same day – I both pray that we find a new organist and plot the trajectory of the lightning strike that would be required to burn that sucker to the ground. Days when I tell myself to just keep pouring out the buckets, and days when I’m fairly certain that the water I’m dumping overboard is rushing through holes that I’ve created.
Sometimes I hear God telling me to get out of the boat.
But maybe He’s telling me it’s time to walk to Him across the water.
I still sing “The Gambler” from time to time and get a little choked up when that gambler he breaks even, but lately I’ve been singing more Mandisa than Kenny:
Are You telling me to go?
Are You telling me to stay?
Are You telling me to hold on to You for another day?
‘Cause I got nothing left
And I’m hanging by a thread
I give You all my weakness, You give me Your strength
‘Cause I’m here again, here at my end
Where You begin