Disclaimer: This post is insanely long because I’m giving background information to all who don’t know–which is most of you. So, if you do not have a few minutes you might want to just wait to read this post. I also apologize to those of you I know that don’t know about any of this really, but hopefully you’ll understand why after you read it. If you do know about the “worship story”, you can just read this for entertainment and for the extra internal commentary that I will share with the rest of the readers. Z girls, I promise I won’t swear 😉 .
I used to take piano lessons, because I thought I wanted to learn to play piano. Maybe I do. I had gotten to the point where I could play chords and pluck out melodies by ear–still can (thanks Anna). Anyway, I was singing some praise song then decided I wanted to sing from my heart, what was on my heart. I could not do it. Every word I sang seemed so manufactured. I got so frustrated, I banged a few chords then my head on the piano. The moment my head hit the piano the Lord spoke to my heart, “I want you to lead worship.” I don’t remember if I wanted to before then, but I know at that moment there was nothing I wanted to do for the Lord more than lead worship.
“But Lord, I can’t sing and I don’t play an instrument.”
I was terrified. There was no denying this was the Lord calling me to lead worship, not because everything about it is something I usually avoid (singing loud enough, standing in front of people) and there is no way I would choose to submit myself to vulnerable situations on purpose, but because at that moment I was filled with so much joy and peace. At that moment I knew that was what I was created to do.
But I was terrified. So many reasons I had to justify my fear. I was afraid of being heard. I was afraid of messing up. I was afraid of sounding bad. I was afraid of the responsibility that would come with leading a body into worship. I was sick. I avoided it as much as I could and then I had to tell someone.
I told our then worship leader and his wife and they looked at me like, “DUH!” I don’t know if they really thought that or are the type to not question when someone tells them that God has lead them to do something. Maybe they saw something I never did. So I started picking out songs with them–getting trained from the bottom up. Learning bits and pieces at a time. I also practiced singing with them once, maybe twice. But I was so terrified of someone hearing my voice (especially compared to the wife. She has an amazing voice) I never really sang. The husband was at the point where he was going to have me lead one song during a Sunday set. That was too much too soon for me. For my fear. I never did it.
I avoided it lots and it got to the point where I felt like I was disobeying God. I wasn’t doing what I knew he wanted me to do. I put it off until I was ready. Or maybe it was God’s timing. The longer I put it off the stronger the desire. Over a period of about 4 years, while hiding from this call–hiding from my fear– the desire grew until it was unbearable. I wanted to lead worship so badly and I wanted it now. I just wanted to be able to get up there and belt it out, sing from my heart and have God miraculously give me the ability to play an instrument (I’ve heard stories of that happening). But I couldn’t.
In the meantime I started singing on a team so I could get comfortable singing in front of a group. But I still chose to sing quietly. I did get a bit more comfortable as time went on which was good. But my desire kept growing. I cannot describe it to you and my comparison will only work for those who have wanted children but did not or could not have them. My first child is the only other thing I have wanted more than this. I know I can be melodramatic, but that is no exaggeration. Each time I heard people pray for a female worship leader (these two people knew my heart) my heart would break. I would cry inside and think, “I’m right here. You have one. I’m right here.” I thought no one else thought it was God and if they didn’t think it was God it wasn’t going to happen because it didn’t make sense to them. I didn’t play an instrument and I couldn’t sing.
I didn’t want to tell people about my desire because I thought that would be promoting myself. I didn’t want to complicate my issues with the whole thing. Leading worship became like a carrot dangled in front of the nose of a horse. I began to realize that, though I was being disobedient in accepting the call, I was not being disobedient in “not leading worship.” This past four years, I will not solely attribute to God’s preparation for when I do lead worship, but I believe a lot of the changes that have and are taking place in me needed to happen before I lead people in worship.
There are some worship songs/singers I hear and the music and lyrics pulse through my body like they are becoming a part of me. Some singers sing songs that you know were birthed from their heart. And I can picture the musicians sitting with eyes closed communicating with the Lord and a song is created. Lost in worship. I wanted that. I want that. In the last year or two it got to the point where I would cry at the very sound and feeling of that music becoming a part of me. I would weep and cry out to the Lord that I would be able to lead people to that place with him. Where they are lost in worship, where his Word to music becomes a part of them, where they are truly changed as a result. Man, I want that. But it seemed as if it would never happen.
Get voice lessons. Practice your piano. I don’t have time and that’s extra money to spend. Plus, I’d much rather play electric guitar. But I don’t really have time to learn an instrument I want to lead worship now. People lead with voice alone. It’s possible.
I’ve been going through a lot. I know I’m only 29, but this has been the hardest 5 years of my life. I’m just coming out of it in this last year. And now, I can sing from my heart. I feel what I’m singing. I believe it. I’m a poster child for what God can do in someone’s life.
But I’m still avoiding leading worship. I want it, but at this point it is a matter of what has been suggested to me to do and what I think God wants to do in spite of my lack of ability. He’s done it in me before with dance (another story). So many of these stories are best told in person and I wish I could just talk to you all now and tell you how good the Lord has been to me. How I thought he had forgotten me. How I thought I didn’t get to do what I wanted. That I wasn’t good enough to receive such an awesome gift. Funny how this call from God that I avoided soon became something I wanted to do but couldn’t.
If I could emerge today. I would sing and I would dance for you. It would be just me and God. I wouldn’t even know you were there because I would be lost. And you? You would worship the Lord. It would be just you and God and you wouldn’t even know I was there, because you would be lost. You would be lulled into his arms and you would rest. He would tell you how beautiful you are to him and how delighted he is in you. You would be in awe of his awesome presence. You would be changed. I have yet to emerge.
So, someone said to me, “Why can’t you just get a team together and start practicing for when the time comes for you to lead worship?” I thought I would do that right after my first year of voice lessons. Then we would meet weekly to practice and have a bible study together. After about a month we would do our first set on a Sunday. I’ve waited long enough for this I want it to be good. We are called to excellence you know.
So our church of 25 has two worship leaders. One is BS, who is out of town this week. Our other leader is also out of town. No one in our parent church could help out either. All of our other musicians are out of town this weekend too. My husband and I were driving in the car when he turns to me and says, “Would you be willing to do it?”
*thoughts in head* AAAAAAAAAAAAAGH! YOU’RE KIDDING ME! THIS ISN’T REALLY HAPPENING IS IT? Say no, say no. No you, silly girl. How long have you been praying for this. Say yes.
Me, in a really fast high pitched voice: I wanna say no but, yes? I’ll do it? Maybe. If you can’t find anybody else. Are you serious? Are you really asking me?
I couldn’t believe it. I don’t know how many times I kept asking him if I was the one doing it. I found someone to sing with me, but we had no musicians. To shorten the story a tad. Musicians from another sister church (we share a worship leader) came down, we practiced the hour before service. I sang. People heard me. I didn’t care what the people were thinking. I wasn’t afraid. Nervous, yes. But not afraid.
I did wonder if they were lifting their hands and dancing just to humor me. It wasn’t horrible. I don’t feel horrible. We messed up, but I would do it again and again. I didn’t care that it wasn’t perfect (strange behavior for myself), I was just honored to be up there. I don’t know if I’m actually on now as a leader, cause I was really just a last minute (a week’s notice) fill in. BS still says I should get voice lessons and I agree. It takes a lot to sing that much and I wasn’t on all the time you know. Plus that whole singing in the same key as what the musicians are playing? I’d rather sing in whatever key I want and have them change, but until I learn more theory–that ain’t happening.
So, I did it. The earth didn’t shake or anything, but I did it. I think it was an answer to prayer or maybe just one of those pre-answers that God does sometimes. Wow! What a treat. So, that’s it. I shortened it a lot. God is great, huh?