Success does a funny thing to you. Our of nowhere springs this desire for more, of the same kind.
Yesterday we had another amazing album release gig. This time in Tauranga. I played to my adopted ‘home crowd’, and a big one it was too. It was a truly wonderful afternoon, with many old friends from Katikati coming to share in the celebration. It was also very special, because Ness (my wife) sang with me. This hasn’t happened very much up til now, but I have a hunch it might happen a little more from now on.
Last week, we accidentally found ourselves at #6 on the NZ album charts. I say accidentally, because this was not part of a concerted, coordinated effort. It was an afterthought. It was a God-thing.
Since then, I’ve been battling thoughts that go something like, ‘how are we going to sell more cds this week?!’
Considering we played our release show in Auckland last week and were in Tauranga this week (about a 10th of the size), it was always going to be a tall order. But there are more issues here as well.
This kind of expectation tends to rule out gratitude. Normally you sell albums to 10% of your audience. In Tauranga we sold to more like 30-40%. That’s phenomenal. Yet, that blessing was in danger of being overshadowed by my hope for a different blessing.
We never expected the whole charts thing to happen. It came out of the blue. It was an unexpected and gratuitous event. I was amazed at how quickly it became something I wanted to manufacture and control.
I was reminded of the Israelites in the desert. God was feeding them with manna that fell from the heavens. The only rule was that you couldn’t take anymore than you needed for that day (except the day before the Sabbath). If you did, it would go off and make you sick. The Israelites had to trust in God’s provision more than their own preparedness and planning. They had to believe in the faithfulness of God and his constancy. They had to relinquish control. They must have found it hard. I know I do.
I have often found much to reflect on in this little story. We experience wonderful things, surprising things, and then we want to franchise them, to replicate them. We want to possess them, even though their value is somehow tied up in being beyond our control them.
What we lose is the uniqueness of the first time. We cheapen it by trying to turn it into every time. But we also lose what new thing might have happened if we hadn’t been so infatuated with the old thing. When we idolise the mountain top experiences that we have, we miss the opportunity to encounter God in the valleys that follow.
Am I saying this to soften the blow of my album inevitably dropping in the charts, and probably dropping out altogether? Partly! But I also believe I have a chance to trust God for fresh manna this day, as there has been each day I have looked. It may not be the same as Friday last week, but does it need to be? Does it need to be for it to be life-giving and world-transforming? No. Something awesome happened. I’m going to try and let it be. And in doing so, to let the next surprise come along without measuring it next to the last one.
I think this is what Jesus is saying to me right now.