Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.
1 Chronicles 16:9 New International Version (NIV)
I awoke today with a song in my heart. Actually, I woke up with more than just one song; I also had a plan for what to do with those songs. God often speaks to me through dreams and though this year has been confusing and I’ve struggled to make sense of what I’m supposed to be doing in this season, I am finally more clear than I’ve been in years about what it is that I’m supposed to be doing.
Music has always been very important to me. I have always loved to sing. I loved hearing my dad sing when I was growing up. As an adult, I’ve enjoyed music of all types and I’ve never experienced more joy than when I have been at a good worship concert or listening to a great worship team offering it all up to our God. It has also been the number one way that I connect with my thirteen year-old daughter. Music is and always will be extremely important to me.
This year was difficult in terms of music. Earlier this year, two of my all-time favorite musicians passed away. I never got to see either of them in concert and in fact, it had been on my bucket list to meet both of them. Sadly, I never got to fulfill those wishes. Their deaths were a shock and the sadness I felt at having missed my opportunity to let them know how much I had enjoyed their music was just short of overwhelming. I am not one to idolize anyone, but when a person’s work has this sort of an impact on you, you know that God has ordained their talent. Neither of these artists were necessarily Christian artists, however, both made it plain throughout their careers that they would not be afraid or ashamed to express their love for God, their Creator.
The dream I had this morning reminded me of my earliest days as a Christian. I had been heavily involved in the worship team, especially in leading the children’s worship group. I remembered having led the group in song many times during the opening sessions of our services and then singing for hours with my church family after we had left service and reconvened at someone’s house to continue praising God. Even at fifteen, I had been filled with the Holy Spirit and had wanted nothing more than to sing out to God at every opportunity.
Later, I had fallen out of church and I didn’t sing for a very long time. In fact, the next time I sang was when my cousin convinced me to sing karaoke at a bar that I frequented. Yes, I went through a very dark period that was characterized by heavy drinking and other things that I had no business doing. But through that time, I knew that God was still with me. He was pulling me and I was pushing Him away. And for a while, I was content to just self-destruct. But something started to happen in me. Although I wasn’t singing worship songs at the bar, the singing I was doing started to bring me back out of that pit. I began to enjoy using the gift that God had given me, even though I had very little confidence in it or in the fact that God really wanted me to use it.
This glimpse of the light was short-lived, though. I eventually stopped drinking and had no place to go that would allow me to sing for no apparent reason. I had no real desire to hang out in bars and sing and I wasn’t about to go back to church at that point, so once again, I was quiet. But a few years later, I made my way back to church and there it was again. Beautiful music! This was the stuff that really spoke to me. This was where I felt like myself. But there was still a problem. I was no longer singing and I felt that I had no business trying to be a part of any worship team. After all that I’d done in my time out of church, how could I stand up and sing as though nothing was wrong with me? Sadly, it felt as though others may have seen that way, too.
But God has a way of making us see the truth. This entire year has been so “quiet.” I’ve not allowed myself to enjoy music the way that I have in the past. I haven’t even enjoyed the concerts I’ve gone to as much as I used to. I stopped attending church because I was so put off by the “performance” aspect of it and I was searching for something deeper. But the truth is that without the music, I don’t connect. Without hearing those worship songs and old hymns, I don’t feel His presence as strongly as I once did. I need to hear the music and I need to sing the songs.
I’ve been loathe to accept my call to be a worship leader or even to be part of a worship team and I feel that He has, without a doubt, shown me that this is what He means for me to do. He means for me to step out and do what He has given me the ability and the heart to do. He means for me to get out of my own way and stop being so afraid of the spotlight that comes with being in front of other worshippers. The only time I didn’t worry about this was when I was leading worship at my church so many years ago. Since I came back to the church, I’ve been so preoccupied with not wanting to appear smug or full of myself that I didn’t want to step up and ask to be a part of any worship efforts. The last thing I am is over-confident and I would never want anyone to think that I am seeking glory for myself. I may not have the same style as other worship leaders, but I have God in my heart and He wants to hear me sing again. How long can I justify staying quiet knowing this?
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.