Picture this—Saturday night in Seattle, a married folk-duo, an album release party, songs about following Jesus, a packed audience filled with both believers and non-believers, and a dimly lit bar. Which part doesn’t belong? Before you give the obvious answer and say the dimly lit bar, we should let you know that this is a trick question. They all belong.
Last November, we released our first full-length album, Setting Sail. So why did we decide to do our album release party at a bar? In short, because we are the salt and light of the world. Why did so many Christians decide to spend their Saturday night with us at the bar? They are salt and light, too.
We could have just as easily—perhaps even more easily— have held this event at a church. In fact, we often perform at churches, and love to. Chelsea and I both grew up in church-going Christian families and attended Christian school for the most part. We are extremely grateful to have been raised, taught and loved by believers. We will always be a part of Christian community—and pray that we will be salt and light to the believers around us.
At the same time, we have noticed that Christian community, when isolated from the rest of the world, can easily turn into a bowl that hides its own light from the world. To be a light in darkness, we need to go to dark places. How about a dimly lit bar?
We wrote and released Setting Sail in faith, that if we put ourselves and our music out there, God would enable us to encourage and challenge everyone—believers and unbelievers alike. Like sailing, we trust that God would provide the wind. Keyword: God would enable; God would provide. As it turned out, the night of our release party, we knew we didn’t have the energy within ourselves—or the accomplishments to be worthy of being called “the salt of the earth,” much less “the light of the world”—but God had been teaching us.
Rewind to last May. Two very weary musicians landed in Nashville, TN to record an album. We had just finished a tiring, hectic season in life. Chelsea’s last day as a foster care and adoption caseworker was a 13-hour marathon, followed by a dear friend’s wedding. Chelsea was in the wedding party while I prepared and performed the music. Then, with three hours sleep, we flew to Nashville. To make an album.
Still, we wanted to be perfect. We wanted to perform everything impeccably, and there we were feeling far from that. Drained. Tired. Salt and light? We were weak and weary.
Enter producer Mitch Dane. Mitch didn’t really care much about a perfect performance. In fact, at times he even preferred our less-than-perfect takes. He showed us that it’s not always excellent technical execution that makes great music, though it can certainly help. Rather, sometimes it’s our humanity, our imperfections and our vulnerability that make great music. Mitch’s perspective drew us back to what God told the apostle Paul: “My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:19).
Back in Seattle, I was reading a familiar story from Mark’s Gospel, when I saw something I hadn’t caught before (isn’t it funny how God does that?). The disciples had been out preaching, driving out demons and healing the sick. Chelsea and I have never walked from town to town in sandals, without food, money or a jacket, preaching, driving out demons and healing the sick—but it sounds exhausting. When they returned and had finished filling Jesus in on what had happened, Jesus said, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Their attempt at rest was quickly spoiled by a gigantic crowd of people. Jesus had compassion on the crowd and began teaching. After a while, the disciples found themselves in a predicament, trying to figure out how to feed this massive bunch of hungry people (and all this time they still hadn’t had any rest). Jesus said to his disciples, “You give them something to eat.” As many of you already know, the disciples gave what little they could muster up, and Jesus made it into plenty for everyone. Not only did Jesus provide enough food for the multitudes, but each disciple left with his own basket full of food.
I couldn’t help but relate this story to our own lives and to the lives of all our fellow believers. We, like the disciples, have been sent out to be salt and light. Even in times when we need rest, we are still salt and light. As believers, this is not just our calling, but it’s who we are. As we step out in faith, like a sailboat depending on the wind, God meets our needs. Through His grace, His power is made perfect in our weakness.