Every note his gift of praise


When I heard recently that Christopher Parkening was going to be in Lubbock, I was surprised — and I knew that I was going to do whatever I could to be wherever he was.

Besides being one of the best fly fishermen in the world (which I find interesting and kinda cool), Parkening is arguably the finest classical guitarist alive today. From what I am given to understand, were you to list the fellows in the running for that honor on one hand, Parkening would be on the short list and you’d have fingers left over.

I don’t claim to be a classical music expert by any means, but I like about as many varying styles of music as anybody I know. And I knew the first time I heard one of Parkening’s recordings that I could listen to him for hours anytime anywhere. (And, at the risk of betraying my low-brow tendencies — probably all symphonies handle things this way with guest soloists — I’m still wondering why they didn’t structure the concert so he’d play with them the whole evening. The symphony did a great job and I enjoyed all the music, but I wanted much, much more of his!)

Anyway, I sat up in the nosebleed section of the Civic Center for the first part of the concert last Friday night, but I had my binoculars aimed right at the great guitarist and tried to watch his every move. I’ve never seen fingers work like that! I still can’t imagine how anyone with just 10 fingers could possibly pluck all of those strings and make all of those sounds.

I also watched his face. I may have misread its story, but I don’t think so, and I think I would have suspected even if I hadn’t known something about his story and his commitment to Christ. His face said to me, here is a man who truly feels honored that 1,400 people would fill an auditorium to listen to him. Here is a man who has filled far larger auditoriums to capacity. But here is a man who would play for even a “crowd” of one or two with the same joy and enthusiasm.

Why? Because he enjoys playing as much as they enjoy listening. It’s what he was created and gifted to do. And there is a deeper reason. You see, here is a man who plucks every string and caresses out of that instrument richly beautiful tones because every note is his gift of praise back to his God, the source of all joy.

I’m thankful for those who sing and play Christian music.
I’m thankful for those who write Christian lyrics. I’m thankful for those who do so beautifully and inspire us with their words and songs.

But music and words and work (of all sorts) and play and service — and lives — don’t have to be filled with religious-sounding words to be truly Christian. They just have to be joyfully and beautifully dedicated to Christ, the Lord of all beauty, all grace, and all joy. And then everyone who comes into contact with them is blessed by Christ’s beauty and their spirits are lifted higher in praise to the Lord who has uniquely gifted each one of us to glorify him.

Curtis Shelburne is minister at 16th and Ave. D Church of Christ in Muleshoe. He can be contacted at: