A few days ago I walked into a studio to begin recording new original music for a project that will be released in early 2019. As I walked into the same studio where artists such as Prince, Janet Jackson, and others have made music I felt a sense of history as well as excitement and nervousness about the project that we would soon begin. As I walked around the studio, I reflected that just over a year ago I thought my songwriting and recording days were behind me.  Artists who are decades younger than me are producing most worship music these days, and most churches today are looking for young musicians in the hopes of attracting others their same age. Even as I knew I was older than that demographic, I still hoped on God and prayed that He would use me for His kingdom work somewhere.

Then, out of the blue, God called and brought my wife, and I to a vibrant church in Florida and music once again started flowing from my soul.  Last summer I wrote a song about Christ followers being like living oak trees planted for God’s glory, which was strongly embraced by our church as a worship anthem as we sang it to God. I wrote another song about Christ’s peace in the middle of a hurricane that threatened our friends and church. A few weeks later I sang it at a gathering of 450 women in Minnesota. The woman who oversaw the event later told me that many women told her that the song felt like it came from their own heart, and asked me to sing it again at the close of the event.  I was moved as I witnessed God’s presence touch many people as we gave the song to God during worship.

The lead pastor of my home church continued to encourage me to write songs that spoke to the people in our area and asked me to write a song called “Encore.” I asked him to pray for me as I sought God’s inspiration, and a week later the song was born.  A few weeks ago some generous ministry partners, as well as my church, encouraged me to record this music and then helped bring about this project.

Now here I was in a place I could only have dreamt about recording music at a year earlier. Soon I was meeting and praying with the talented studio musicians God provided, and I told them my story and the stories of each song.

Then I entered the room where I would record piano and guitar tracks. Expecting a majestic Steinway piano, I instead saw an old, upright piano that was scratched, worn and missing the entire front panel (I later found out the instrument was made in 1938 and they purchased it from Craig’s List for $600—I have attached a picture of the actual piano above). I told Bryan — the engineer I have worked with over the years and who had made the studio arrangements—that I would probably not be able to get any good sounds out of that old piano. He asked me to give it a try, and if it didn’t work out, we could go somewhere else to record my piano parts.  So I sat down at the piano and recorded the first song with the other musicians. When I went into the booth to hear the results I was amazed at what I heard! That old piano sounded as good—if not better— than the finest grand pianos I have heard or played in other studios. It had a rich, resonant fullness and, like a fine wine, had aged well and sounded better with the years. I reminded myself that no one cares what a piano looks like when they hear a recording—they only care how it sounds! I apologized to Bryan for doubting him on the piano, and we went on to record some of the best music I have ever done.

God reminded me that in many ways we are all like that old piano: a little worn on the outside, and marked with the scratches and scars that happen as we travel through life. Few of us look as shiny or prestigious as a Steinway piano, but when we allow God to mold us as we live in relationship with Him, we discover that through the years we become like that old upright piano: sweet and resonant with His presence, and even better as the years pass.

If you feel that the world has tried to cast you aside because you’re too old or don’t fit the mold of culture’s expectations, don’t give up! God doesn’t care how old or young you are: He loves to use people that the world sees as insignificant or outside the lines of human expectations.

You are loved, and God has plans for you!

“Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.” Psalm 71:17-18

God bless you!

Chris Atkins