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Even bad times make good stories
Comedian blends music with memories for performance
Christian comedian Mark Lowry performs Saturday at the Georgia Mountains Center.

Mark Lowry with LordSong and Stan Whitmire

When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Georgia Mountains Center, 301 Main St. SW, Gainesville
How much: $15-$20
More info: 770-534-8420

Getting old isn't what worries Mark Lowry.

Rather, it is having more than a half-century of experiences to draw from when coming up with stories for his comedic performances. In his 51 years, Christian comedian and songwriter Lowry has seen a lot of things, and found the bad times make for the best stories.

"I can't make stuff up. I ask God to please give me some material that doesn't hurt," he said in a phone interview from his Houston home. "I always talk about things like van wrecks, tumor surgeries and a motorcycle accident I had two years ago.

"I have 51 years of tragedy to pull from, and you know what? Everybody does."

Lowry spins these personal tales into performances that mix morals and songs. He will perform Saturday night at the Georgia Mountains Center with LordSong and Stan Whitmire providing musical accompaniment.

But what makes these stories interesting, he said, isn't that they are all gloom-and-doom — because they're not. Instead, they're all stories of pulling through the hard times and making it work, knowing that God is on our side no matter what.

One of the stories he tells is about a motorcycle wreck two years ago, when he jumped on his bike for a short trip down the road. He ended up landing face-first on the road — named Shepherd Drive — and was severely injured.

"I tell the audience, look around. If you're sitting on Shepherd Drive, if you're in the middle of Shepherd Drive in your life, you might as well look around because there's diamonds everywhere," he said. "Because what this life is about is learning. This is boot camp.

For some reason, that pleases God when we walk by faith. And when I learn the most about this journey and about this life is when I'm sitting on Shepherd Drive."

The tough times are all part of a greater test, Lowry said. You may know that God is with you, but if you come across some hard times, you start to wonder if he's still there, if he really cares.

It is also illustrated in the story of Jesus in the boat with his disciples. He slept through the storm, and the questions that came up afterward were questions of character, not necessarily faith.

"Because you're not asking, ‘Can you fix the storm?' Because you know he can," Lowry said. "You're questioning his character. (You're asking) do you even care? And so it makes you doubt that God loves you when you go through this stuff. But I tell you, God is working behind the scenes."

But the stories of the rough times are the ones that turn into funny ones after the fact. Or, they come with a moral that should be shared.

Either way, Lowry said, the bad days are much more productive than the good ones.

"I never remember a good day. I've had thousands of good days; hopefully this will be one. But I will not remember it in a year," he said. "But I'll never forget hitting Shepherd Drive. That is the reason I said, ‘God, give me something to talk about that comes from a good day. Because this can hurt.'"