Accepting No Substitutes

Seven shows into a tour and already I don’t need God.


By this time I know the crew, the artists, the musicians well enough that any trepidation that comes with forging new relationships has worn off. I don’t struggle to make conversation anymore, to find common ground.


By this time I know what to sing and how much to say in between to make the most of my time slot without going over. I’ve stopped tweaking the set list, rewriting the banter in an effort to connect quickly and meaningfully with the audience.


By this time I know what questions to ask the runner on the way to the hotel and to the venue. I don’t worry that we’ll sit in awkward silence.


By this time I know what story to tell about which Compassion child. I know what matters to Mark and Anita’s audience, what they find compelling, what moves the largest percentage of the them to action.


By this time in the tour I’ve got it figured out – the people, the routines, the music, the pitch. I’m confident. Finally comfortable.


And I read the words of Dwight Edwards for the umpteenth time this morning and underline a paragraph I’ve never noticed before. And never needed more.

“Apart from me you can do nothing” – Those words have not a trace of exaggeration in them. Yet our flesh tries to keep the prideful hope alive of accomplishing something worthy on our own. Usually we try it in areas that we consider our strengths: our intellect, our personal discipline, our godly upbringing (if we were so blessed), our personality traits, or our Christian training or education.

The chisel digs deeper…

When we read our Bibles without bothering to ask for His enlightening, when we make plans and decisions without genuinely waiting to hear from God, we prove our conviction that unaided intellect is all we need.

And deeper…

Personal discipline can be a counterfeit of the self-control that is a fruit of the Spirit. So it is with any of our perceived personality strengths. Charm and empathy can be counterfeits for love, cheerfulness for joy, steadiness for peace.

By this time…My confidence is comfortable and my comfort leaves me prayerless and independent. My silence says to God “I’ve got it from here.” The Holy Spirit stands side-stage, watching the show from just behind the curtain.


But through Dwight I hear Paul this morning. What began in the Spirit should continue in the Spirit.

Continue in the Spirit. Dependent. Prayerful. Accepting no substitutes.