“There’s someone here to see you,” my secretary said yesterday afternoon. “He says he knew you a long time ago.” She told me his name. I remembered him, but hadn’t seen him for close to 40 years.
I went out to the lobby and he rose from the chair to greet me. “Joe (name changed)” I said, “How have you been, buddy?” Joe’s a long-time local musician, and the younger brother of a friend of mine from my old days of drugs, drunkenness and rock ‘n roll.
“I’ve been wanting to stop by and get your thoughts on something,” he said. “I became a Christian a couple years ago and I think I’m going to have to quit my band. I remember when you quit your band when you became a Christian and wanted to talk to you about it.”
“You remember that?” I said. I’d been closer to his brother and couldn’t remember much about Joe.
“Oh yeah, I remember it. I couldn’t believe you’d just throw it all away when you became a Christian. Last I saw you, your band was playing in the barn on my brother’s farm. It was a cold day and you said, ‘We’re going to sing ‘Ba-ba-baby you ain’t seen nu-nu-nuthin’ yet” by Bachman Turner Overdrive. It ought to be easy ‘cause it’s so cold today.’”
I remembered that day. Remembered the farmhouse bathroom floor covered with stalks of drying marijuana.
“Next thing I heard was you quit the band. I couldn’t believe you’d just throw all that away because you became a Christian. It really affected me.”
“Really?” I said. “I had no idea.”
It was September of 74, and at the end of a Bible study I decided to follow Jesus wholeheartedly, which meant a few weeks later I’d have to quit my band. I’d asked our bass player, who booked our gigs, not to book any more in a particularly bad bar. Not only was I exposing myself to temptation, but we sang songs that promoted ungodly things and provided background music for others to do the things we sang about.
A few days later he booked us into the very bar I’d asked him not to. So I called him and told him I was quitting the band.
“What! Are you kidding me?” He shouted. “We have gigs booked. What are you doing that for?”
I couldn’t think of anything else to say but, “Jesus told me to.”
“What?!” He yelled again. “Do you want me to come over there and string you up?” And he could have done it because he was built like a mountain.
“Not really, I said, “but do whatever you have to do. I just have to quit the band.”
Later I heard that lots of people didn’t understand what I had done. Some said I “got religion,” or “became a Jesus freak.” Little did I suspect my decision would influence anyone. Now 37 years later Joe tells me it affected him.
Every day we make decisions to obey Jesus and have no idea how we may influence others. People are watching us. When we do our work cheerfully, when we shovel a neighbor’s walk, when we offer to pray for an unbelieving friend, when we respond to an insult with kindness – who knows how Jesus will use your faithfulness?