For years now, Jennifer Daniels has been performing her Southern-gothic brand of roots rock, captivating audiences and plumbing the depths of the genre, taking on faith, doubt, marriage, heartache, motherhood, and everything life can throw at a girl from the southern highlands. Her albums and work can be found at Jenniferdaniels.com.
Although performing songwriters have been hit hard with this whole social distancing thing, we’re no strangers to uncertainty. We’re used to praying for work. We’re scrappy. We’re innovative. And we receive help gratefully. We’re no longer horrified when a payment has to be made late, nor shocked when money to make that payment comes out of the woodwork.
As of today, Jeff and I have lost ten gigs. That pretty much means that our income has been suspended. But yesterday, after an online show, we received a $200 tip from a single contributor. We hear of our church giving generously, and the community of artists banding together (no pun intended).
Today I gather the gift of dauntless daffodils from the irrepressible spring. I watch the birds out there finding their meals. Jesus said, “If the Father clothes the fields like that, will he not clothe you? And if he feeds the birds like that, will he not feed you? Are you not worth more than many birds?” I always giggle at the question. Just how many birds are we worth?
Ten years into our marriage, after Jeff and I released our twins into the world, we released our seventh album, Come Undone. Touring behind the record was almost impossible. All the sudden, living hand to mouth as traveling musicians was not nearly the fun adventure we’d signed up for. It felt scary and irresponsible. But we believed that we were called to create, so we prayed, sometimes argued with God.
Anyway, we had been afraid at times before that. When we took on a mortgage, for instance. We prayed then! Benefactors appeared. Often in the most curious of forms: gigs from old friends who happened to remember us, the IRS deciding we’d overpaid, hundreds of dollars in a tip jar at a thankless gig. And, oh, our dear parents.
God may choose to let us fall into financial ruin. Certainly people far more talented, dedicated, and deserving than we are have. Makes me think of that story of the three men about to be burned to death. They said to the king, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us…But even if he does not…”
That’s the real question we explore as creatives, isn’t it? What, then, if he does not? What will or won’t we do? If everything that can be taken away is, what’s left? That’s your song. Your story.
But, in Daniel 3…”Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, ‘Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire? Look! I see four men now, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods. Praise be to God, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants!’”
One last thing. I know. I’m supposed to be concise, and I’m not supposed to be preachy. But Jesus is called Emmanuel. It means God with us. Just as the angel was in the fire with those men, he is here with us in our little furnace now. And so we pray.