I Picked Guitar with Chet Atkins

Anyone who has ever picked up a guitar has heard of the late, great Chet Atkins. He is a guitar legend. In many ways he helped popularize the guitar like no one else. He played a style that many of us have sought to copy called “finger or thumb style” guitar.

An interesting side note is that this style originated in Western Kentucky by a coal miner named Mose Rager in Muhlenberg County. Merle Travis heard him play and developed that same style of having the thumb play the rhythm part while the other fingers play the melody, thus a one man band. Chet heard Merle play and copied his style. So there you have it. Great music always has some Kentucky roots!

Back to my story, yes I, Mike James played guitar with the great Chet Atkins. It happened while we served in Nashville. Several years ago they decided to build a brand new country music hall of fame so they wanted a few guitar players to march from downtown Nashville to the new location of the Country Hall of Fame building while picking guitar with Chet Atkins. Ok, there was more than just me. I did have to call and audition for them but I am a man of the cloth so I must confess something else to you.

I was not the only guitar player who marched in the parade with the great Chet Atkins while we all played, “You Are My Sunshine” on our guitars. It really wasn’t just me and Chet. It actually was @ 75 guitar players from all over Nashville who auditioned and had the opportunity to pick with Chet that blessed day. Now you know the rest of the story. What in the world does this have to do with discipleship or assimilation or anything spiritual? Well here is my point.

Sometimes our words do not tell the whole story. The title of this blog is accurate and absolutely true but very misleading. When we do not tell the whole story on any issue it can get us in lots of trouble and shatter friendships.

Also, as we share Jesus with people let’s make sure that folks understand that this is a lifetime commitment of radical obedience that will change the course of their lives forever! Don’t soft sell the Gospel because then it’s not the Gospel. As we share with people let them know that following Jesus is dangerous and costly. We should make sure that the person we are sharing with knows that this Savior is also Lord. Jesus cannot be your Savior if He is not your Lord and He cannot be your Lord if He is not your Savior. Yes He wants to save you but that is only the beginning step in following Jesus for the long haul or as the writer Petersen phrased it, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.

I still joke with people that I picked guitar with Chet Atkins and it was a highlight of my guitar life, but the best news I can share with people is the change that Jesus has brought into my life. I did not get to know Chet personally but I do know Jesus personally and that relationship continues to guide, change, and bless my life and that my friend is the whole truth.


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