He has a magnificent beard. He seems both old and young. He’s wise. I’m pretty sure he has a walking stick. He’s always traveling from here to there, there to here, appearing when you least expect him. He’s a teacher and a student. He’s an author, a singer/songwriter and a banjo player, he’s a carpenter, a hobby astronomer, and a hunter.
I’m pretty sure there’s only one person on Earth who meets all the above criteria, and his name is Michael Card. I first met Mike at an artist’s retreat hosted by a ministry in Knoxville, and, knowing his name for years and years as “the guy who wrote ‘El Shaddai’,” I was surprised that he didn’t play us a single song the whole weekend. He seemed perfectly content—eager, even—simply to teach and to talk about the Bible without throwing a guitar into the mix. Truly, his teaching was so stimulating I didn’t miss the music by the end, either. Since I didn’t grow up paying any attention to Christian music it was a long time before I heard songs like, “Come to the Table” and “Immanuel,” and when I finally did it was live, in a church jammed with people singing at the top of their lungs. Goosebumps, I tell you.
A few years ago I was in dire need of a mentor. I needed someone older and wiser, a Christian to whom I could stay accountable, someone to encourage me to read my Bible, to guide me in some kind of formal relationship. Late one night I emailed Mike and, with fear and trembling, asked him to be that mentor. He emailed back the next day saying, in effect, “No.” He went on to explain that he wasn’t interested in a mentoring relationship. “What I need is friends,” he told me. “We can get together and hang out, but not just to talk about spiritual stuff. Let’s just be friends. And in this town, the only time you really get to hang out with your friends is on the road, so why don’t you open for me for a few shows?”
I was disappointed at first (about the mentor thing, not the shows), but several years later it turns out Mike was right. I asked for a mentor and ended up with a friend—a good friend, which is a much better thing. My disappointment was a sign of my immaturity. It was as if I had emailed someone and asked if I could pitch a tent in their backyard, and they said, “Sure, you can stay. But you’re not sleeping outside—you’re going to be in the guest cottage.” Mike’s friendship, I believe, has yielded far more encouragement and edification than an accountability partner ever would have.
Several more Mike Card stories come to mind—like the time he shared the stage with Frederick Buechner and Walter Brugemann, or the time we were watching the History Channel and he read a snippet of Isaiah from a scroll they flashed on the screen, or the time he showed me his new rifle with a laser sight, or the time he asked if he could record “The Silence of God” after he had already done it. I’m so grateful to call this man my friend.
AND I’m grateful that he’s coming to North Wind Manor in two weeks to talk about his new book. Mike has written about a zillion books, but his latest four are commentaries on the Gospels, part of the Biblical Imagination Series. Think about that for a second. Can you imagine writing not one but four commentaries? On the Gospels? Most of us would feel like we had just run four Iron Man races. So congratulations, Mr. Card, and we thank you for bringing your musical/poetic gifting to bear on the Scriptures so the rest of us can see it afresh. On August 29th, at 7:00, the Gandalf of Nashville will be teaching from the Gospel of John, and I hope you’ll join us. Trust me, there’s nothing quite like seeing Mike turn into a little kid while he talks about Jesus.
Admission to the event is totally free, though we do ask that everyone bring a snack item to share (drinks are on us). Space is limited, so if you intend to come, it’s very important that you RSVP via an email to [email protected] There are only 30 seats available. RSVP quickly if you want to secure a spot. We’ll include the address to the Manor when we respond to your RSVP.
This event is now full.
What: Michael Card discussing the Gospel of John
When: Friday, August 29th
Where: North Wind Manor, Nashville
Admission: FREE (but please bring a snack to share)
RSVP to: [email protected]