As I sat on the piano bench a few Sundays before our last Sunday at our church as pastors, I felt that nearness to God that often comes to me when I’m singing, making music, and leading worship with my friends. There’s nothing like music to lift me into God’s presence, to remind me of how beautiful, holy and amazing He is, to open and soften my heart. There is definitely nothing like music that enables me to express praise to God, to celebrate Him, to love Him. It’s just the way my heart and soul are wired, I think. Music is huge to me – always has been. I wonder what the spiritual connection really is when we sing for and to God? I believe God made singing/playing music spiritual and not just pleasing to the ears.
As I sat on the piano bench that Sunday a sadness crept up and over me as I realized this time of leading and singing with these particular friends and in this way was about over. Even as we sang, my heart was praying, “God, I don’t want to give this up. I love this. It draws me close to you. You called me to this. Singing and worshiping this way is where my heart feels most at home and most useful to You – at least at this point in my life. BUT, I’ll give it up because You’re leading us away to something else and because I love You.” The lump in my throat only lasted a moment as I focused again on the words we were singing.
This past Sunday as we sang a few songs in worship at our “temporary home” church I could hardly sing loud enough. It was SO good to sing and praise, but my heart wanted to run up front and help, to harmonize and help lead, to be even more a part of what was going on. I wanted to sing more songs, for it to last longer.
This has led to some reflection in the last few days. Why do I feel so strongly about this? Is it because I want to be up front, a subconscious need for attention? Is it simply because I passionately love making music with other people, music that is beautiful and strong, music that sounds so good? Is it because my heart was tuned to help lead in worship and God is drawing me? Is it really for Him? Or for me?
Matt Redman shares about an experience in the 1990’s in his church, Soul Survivor, in England. The church was going through a time of apathy of sorts, something missing overall, especially in their times of worship. The pastor did a brave thing – he decided they would have no band and no sound system for a while. At first, Matt says, there were moments of embarrassing, awkward silence when the people gathered. But eventually some broke into a capella songs and prayers and encountered God in a new way. Reminding his church family to be producers in worship, not just consumers, the pastor, Mike Pilavachi, asked, “When you come through the doors on a Sunday, what are you bringing as your offering to God?” Out of this whole experience Matt wrote the song, “Heart of Worship” which says:
When the music fades and all is stripped away
And I simply come,
Longing just to bring something that’s of worth
That will bless Your heart.
I’ll bring You more than a song,
For a song in itself is not what you have required
You search much deeper within, through the way things appear.
You’re looking into my heart.
I’m coming back to the heart of worship
and it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus.
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
when it’s all about You…
A few weeks ago while visiting another church, my daughters were sharing the same longing, that they miss being so involved in helping with the music in worship. I told them that this was giving us an opportunity to just go to church for the purpose of giving God glory – just because He’s worthy. It’s not about us.
As I prayed and thought about all of this, driving to work this morning, I heard God say to me, “AND…how does that heartfelt worship and singing translate into the rest of your day and life? It should continue to flow into love for others, serving others, encouraging, blessing, helping others. It doesn’t stop at the end of a song or a powerful worship service.”
I’m trusting Him to show me how that pans out day by day, starting with today.
I hesitate to pray it, but…humble me, Lord. It’s all about You.