The Long Road Back       By Eric Copeland

 

I remember being in front of a large audience. My heart was bursting. I had had long talks with my music director, and I was pretty sure God was working on my heart to serve the church in music. At the time (1979), that meant being a music minister. Directing the choir, leading hymns, and teaching youth choirs. I wasn’t sure that was what I wanted to do, but the Lord was working on me. Who was I to say “no”? The music director said, “Eric has something he’d like to say.” I stepped up and told my family and congregation that I was going to follow God’s call and be a music minister.

 

Well, long story short, it didn’t happen. Like many college age kids, things changed and I began spending less time at church and more time doing, non-church things. I followed music, and although I kept my relationship with the Lord, I know He couldn’t have been too crazy about the things I was doing.

 

I became a professional musician, touring with hotel bands and eventually landing in Chicago. I played with more bands, but started paying more attention to my songwriting and production work. I would return to my hometown and grow as a music producer, meeting my wife, and getting back into the church. Eventually, I became known for working with independent Christian musicians, and began working with artists around the country. I figured that since I was helping people in music ministry, then that was my ministry. I was doing enough! God had to be happy with that – right?  

 

It got to the point where my production work was strong, but there was no consistency financially. It was hard on my marriage, my work, and my walk. I got to my knees and prayed a very dangerous thing: “God, whatever it is You want for my life, I’ll do it. I don’t care! Just deliver us from this!”

 

Soon after, we were considering moving to Nashville, so that I could attract more clients. But then, I got a call to do a web site for a music leader at a local church. She said, “You know, you could really be helpful in a church situation.” It made sense, but I had no experience, and did God really want me to go work at a church and give up producing? The artists I worked with were doing so well, and my quality had never been better. Clients were still coming! He couldn’t want me to give up being a producer!?

 

But I remembered my prayer. I put my name out there, and soon found a local pastor seeking a music leader. My family visited the small church. My daughter heard the sparse music and said, “Daddy, I like a BIG church!”

 

I led music and began working on a trial basis. It worked. One day the pastor said, “How about this, we can’t afford to pay you full-time, but we can pay you part-time and build you a small studio to work with clients?” A few months later, I moved my production business into a beautiful new facility at Daybreak Community Church. The praise band has grown from a drummer and a few singers, to a full 25+ member band with guitar, bass, drums, flute (my daughter is one of the flute players and loves it!), and 10-15 singers. My production business is booming and my quality has risen greatly since moving in.

 

God knows what He is doing. The long road here provided me with years of training as a web designer, songwriter, singer, producer, project leader, video editor, and keyboard player. All these talents I use on a daily basis to serve Him at the church and in the studio.

 

I encourage you to pray the prayer of surrender to the Lord: that He will use you and direct you. Just because you give everything to Him, doesn’t necessarily mean you will lose it.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3: 5-6

 

To find out more about Eric and his work as a music director and producer, check out www.EricCopelandMusic.com

 

© 2004 Christian Sound & Song. All rights reserved. Churches are encouraged to reproduce for use in their ministries. For any other use, permission must be obtained from the publisher.    www.soundandsong.com