I have been a fan of Jimi Hendrix since I was 13 and it was an emotional and traumatic time when I read of his death in the Saturday Mirror during my morning paper round. I was devastated.
I’ve remained a lifelong fan of his music and he was the main reason I took up guitar. I am unashamed to admit I play just as bad today as I ever did!
But this is not what convinced me of God.
Let me tell that tale…
I always wanted a Fender Stratocaster, just like the one Jimi played, but could never afford one as a kid and once I left home in my early twenties the desire, while still there, was put on the back burner to simmer.
Later, after I got married, I took the proverbial pot off the stove. As my wife once remarked: ”I married a hairdresser, not a pop star.”
We move on …
Then, a few years later I decided to make a sort of bucket list of things I wanted to own. Sounds a bit selfish, but as Terry Pratchett wrote, without things we just clever monkeys.
So I wrote my list. It was quite short, as I am not that much of a materialist in the sense of wanting things. But among the items on the list was the Fender guitar.
I wanted an Ice-white Fender Strat with a maple neck. And it must be an American Strat, not one made in Mexico or Japan. A genuine Strat made in the US of A.
Once the list was complete, I closed my eyes, cleared my mind, put my hands together and said a prayer to God that if he was real, he would send me a sign.
In my mind the thing I wanted most was the Fender Stratocaster. As much as I liked the other things on my short list, the Strat was the pearl, the icing on the gateaux, and if God could see His way clear to letting me have this guitar I would never doubt Him again.
The years passed and nothing on the list materialised and certainly not my beloved guitar. Every now and then I would send out a half hearted plea to God that if he was real I would like the guitar … please. But nothing ever appeared.
Then kids came along, mortgage, etc etc and the guitar became just an image, a dream that once was.
Then, one day it was announced on the radio that they were giving away a Fender Stratocaster in celebration of the life of Hendrix. It was sponsored by Jack Daniels. My enthusiasm was rekindled. And so too my faith in God.
But every time the radio announced it was going to be asking a question, I was in the car, or somewhere I could not get to a phone. There were no cell phones at this stage.
This went on for over a week and not once did I make it to a phone. I lost out. God had not answered my prayer. I was beginning to really dislike God and think he was trying to send me a message: ‘‘It’s not to be. Do not tempt the Lord.’’
So the dream was dashed once more.
God had let me down.
Twelve months later the radio station ran the same competition again.
This time I was determined.
I said my prayers fervently and rekindled my faith in God. This time he was going to come through for me!
So I took time off work ( I really did!)
I put a radio in almost every room in the house, and even in the outside office at the far end of the garden. I also carried a small portable with me at all times. There were still no cell phones yet so I had to be within striking distance of the phone when I heard the announcement to phone in for the Magic Question.
I am deadly serious.
Of course I was praying almost constantly by this stage and my faith was getting stronger and stronger. I could feel it. This time that guitar was mine! God was going to come through for me.
So I heard the DJ announce the time to call in: I called, I answered, and I won!
I was over the first hurdle and I was in the final draw.
I thanked God. He had come through.
The following Friday the names of all the preliminary winners went into a draw and two names would be called out at the end of the show.
I prayed to God that my number (which was 7) would be called. Seven was my lucky number. That I was allocated my favorite lucky number was also surely a sign.
In fact there were two guitars up for grabs. The first prize was a left-handed Tribute Strat to Hendrix. The second prize was an ordinary right-handed Stratocaster.
The winning number was announced. It was 3.
I had not won first prize.
My heart sunk.
The second number was announced.
The DJ called out Number 7.
I kid you not!
I had won second prize. A right-handed Fender Stratocaster!
God has come through for me. In that instant I was a devout believer all over again.
I mean, of all the hundreds, maybe thousands of people who had called in, I was one of two to win a prize and God saw fit to ensure I won second prize and a right-handed Strat.
But the Good News isn’t over yet.
The following week we went to a night club in a suburb called Mellville to receive our prizes.
The radio station had commandeered the club for an hour or two and it was packed to the rafters.
When the resident band took a break between sets the DJ leapt up onstage and made an announcement, and would the First Prize Winner please come up on stage.
He did and was handed an immaculate left handed Fender Stratocaster. It was truly a work of art. Truth be told he seemed a bit bemused and when asked if he would like to plug it in he declined, said thanks, took his guitar and stepped down. It was a bit of an anti-climax and the DJ looked a little pissed off to tell, the truth.
He called for me to come up. By now I was shaking so much I could hardly stand.
I went up on stage and out the corner of my eye a long-haired roadie emerged from behind the stage with my prize in a black Fender case, which he placed facing me on the stage at my feet.
The catches clicked and he opened the lid.
My legs gave way. I literally sagged to my knees.
The guitar was ice white with a maple neck.
I could not contain my emotions. I began to thank God right there on the stage.
My wife told me afterwards that the DJ had never seen anyone react like this and he was almost in tears as well.
Maybe he was also moved by God?
Of course, when, I was asked if I would like to plug it in I said yes, much to the roar of approval of everyone jammed in the room.
So without a plectrum or a strap, I squatted on the stage, and even though I was unable to tune the guitar perfectly as my hands were shaking, I managed to play the opening few notes of Voodoo Chile, which got an even bigger roar.
True story. And no doubt you will all agree that I couldn’t have done it without God, right? Praise the Lord.
That’s why you too should believe in God and pray.
How else can you possibly explain such an amazing stroke of good fortune if not for God?
Seeing is believing.