Have you ever heard of ‘The Scatman’? He was famously known to write that his “greatest problem has become my greatest asset.”

He’s in his element scat-singing in this YouTube clip:   NB: Scat singing is a type of improvisation when singing jazz.

His real name is John Paul Larkin. He suffered a severe stutter from the time he learned to speak. This directly contributed to an emotionally traumatic childhood. At 12 he began to learn piano, and was introduced to the art of ‘scat singing’ at 14, listening to records of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. The piano helped him express himself beyond his speech difficulties. He went on to become a professional jazz pianist in the 1970’s & 80’s. The introduction of music was a turning point in his life. When he died at 57, he said: “Whatever God wants is fine by me … I’ve had the very best life. I have tasted beauty.”

Like many talented and complicated artists, his life was troubled by alcohol and drugs. Love helped to transform him. He met his wife, Judy; also a recovering alcoholic. It was another turning point in his life. She encouraged him to use his gift in music to be an encouragement for others, especially young people who suffered with stuttering. He was later awarded the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s Annie Glenn Award for outstanding service to the stuttering community.


Brendan Devine is a 27 year old Youth Pastor. He wrote about ‘God turning points’ in his life. Following is an extract of his thoughts: ‘As an adolescent and even as a teenager, I remember looking at adults and thinking at some point in my life I will experience a monumental turning point, and then I will be an adult, and I will be big and mature, and wise, and have everything together. My 18th birthday came and went, no colossal change, and my 21st was much the same. At some point, I realised that an adult is not made in in a moment. If they are made, it is in a series of points that move us from where we are to where we will be. Having worked with so many youth and young adults, I realise that many adults stop moving; they stop turning.’

‘We may look older, but on the inside, some of us are still teenagers. The world revolves around us, and we will not be moved. Growth doesn’t always just happen. Points don’t always turn us. It’s easy to become settled into life, moving with the monotonous rhythm, confirming to the expected norm.’

‘For me, it is only through Holy dissatisfaction that I have experienced these times of growth and change. When I am settled and comfortable, I stop stepping out. Those times when I am satisfied with life, I become complacent.’ He goes on to write: ‘My desire is to never stop growing, learning and maturing in Christ. “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”. Brendan Devine goes on … ‘I don’t ever want to have to search my history to find moments when God has changed my life; I want to see it today. Today, I want to be turned by the power of my God, moved by His wisdom, spurred on by grace. In the words of Oswald Chambers: “You never cease to be the most amazed person on earth at what God has done for you in the inside.”


  • God is the creator of all good gifts, especially music and the Arts.
  • Our problems can become our strengths. It’s known as a ‘paradigm shift’.
  • Love is transformational.
  • ‘Turning points’ can significantly contribute to our personal and spiritual growth.

Reflection: In the words of English Poet Simon Armitage, when considering the effects of turning points in our life: “It Ain’t What You Do, It’s What it Does to You.”

Blessings to you and your family,

Des Mitchell