This week we’ve had a star on campus – singer, songwriter, pianist, producer, author, and more. Yet you wouldn’t have known it to see him walking the campus in jeans and sneakers, and a sweatshirt to hold off the sudden cold, with a quiet word and a warm smile for anyone who greets him: self-effacing and God-honoring, humble – and yet confident in his identity as a child of the Father called to be a musician for His glory in the created world.
I’ve appreciated Charlie’s wisdom these past three days. I hope to give more specifics when grading subsides (or I give up pretending that I might get caught up), but one thing I especially appreciated is his emphasis on story. The gospel, of course, is a story, from Genesis – “I am making all things” – to Revelation – “I am making all things new.” Can you tell this story, beginning to end, he asked us – with or without reference to Scripture – to anyone? Can you apply the story to the world – all the world? because the Creator is interested in everything He has made, contemporary church life, yes, but all the rest of His world just as much.
Creativity is a spiritual labor, Charlie reminded us: submit your creative work to the Holy Spirit and tell the story to point people to the truth, to leave the world a better place than it was when you arrived. He spoke of this gospel story as the “controlling story” of the world, of our lives, and reminded us to wake each morning with thankfulness for His new mercies, then step into the story and live out our roles, wherever God has called us.
I kept thinking of the Willow Tree angel LuCindy gave me, the one holding a book, called the angel of learning. But LuCindy wrote this for me on the accompanying card: “She’s called the angel of learning, but to me she is a constant reminder [. . .] to turn loose and trust my Abba to write my story, moment by moment, in faith that He will make it more light-filled and wondrous than I ever could.”
So a bonus blessing from Charlie’s time with us – a reminder of my friend’s loving generosity and of her message through his. Blessings abound; if I can remember that the story is His, I will better see them as I walk through each day in His grace.