March 21, 2011
Monday, 10:30 a.m.
Letter #170: Letting Go, Worship Happens
I’m not what I would consider a “control freak,” and I certainly don’t mind following direction or being told what to do. But, if no one else and especially when no one else steps up to lead, I step up.
For example, we had a volleyball tournament this weekend, with twelve teams of five guys each who signed up. I hadn’t been outside in over six weeks (by choice, as I’m usually busy), and since volleyball isn’t normally available to us on our tiny yard, I joined a team, named it the aggressive-sounding Mighty Sandcrabs, and went out for the tournament. Since no one seemed to know what to do, I called out the brackets, established referees, and moved the games along. It turned out great, except my team wasn’t so mighty. Next year! Or next. Or next …
In church, I operate much the same way, with the exception that I’ve been placed in leadership (not assumed leadership), and we don’t have a cool crustacean name for the worship team.
As a result of always being involved with the setup and teardown, the background music, welcome music, exit music, worship music, and decision music, plus leading worship or opening in prayer, or giving a word of exhortation, I don’t really get to experience worship. At any given moment, my brain is focused on a myriad of details: sound levels, words, chords, key changes, following someone who leads out a song without music, broken keys on the keyboard, etc.
In recent months, I’ve been training other guys to take my place by having them play instruments alongside me, practicing with them separately, having them lead a song they’re comfortable with, and beginning to include their singing along with their playing. In the past five weeks that we’ve had service, I’ve been at visit four of those weeks. At other facilities in California, I always went to church first before going to a visit. Here, my goal has been to train replacements, since my visitors drive such long distances to see me. As a result, I’ve now been able to get several replacement options.
Yesterday, I had Daniel play keyboard. Trevor was on guitar and Luis on drums, and a new guy volunteered to replace our sound guy who didn’t show up. (How do you not show up?!? I know you’re not having car trouble or a sick child.) And, for the first time in a long time, I got to do nothing but worship! With nothing else on my mind, with no other responsibilities, I got to enter in to worship.
What I’m used to—and even fairly accomplished at, thank the Lord—is facilitating corporate worship. What I’m not used to—and sadly not so good at—is facilitating my own private worship. Just God and me.
In the service, I kept my heart focused on the Lord and got my mind away from thinking about who was doing what, and if it was done well or not. (This was not easy.) Song after song, and I stopped noticing the guys I’d invited to be in the praise team and the two I had not asked, and I just worshiped.
Suddenly, I had tears pouring down my cheeks (my own, I assume) and my hands were uncomfortably lifted in humble surrender, which was obviously not my idea. And just like that, our small 50-person chapel had shrunk to capacity: one, and I met with God.
When several guys responded for prayer, I was able to go up to the front and lay hands on and pray with them, as I was seeking—am seeking—the same thing they were: a heart after God.
Daniel told me that I’ll be playing the keyboard from now on, and I told him that it wasn’t his decision. I look forward to just being in the service for the near future as I let the Lord fill my cup. I hadn’t realized how thirsty for real worship I was. It’s easy to get busy, isn’t it?
A new volunteer who comes in on Wednesday nights to lead worship wanted me to hear a new song from Casting Crowns, “Oh Glorious Day!” She’d recorded it off the radio while driving, and had me listen on her digital recorder and play along.
Then, last week, she brought me lead sheets (for guitar) and full piano sheet music for the song, along with a CD of the song she’d downloaded for me. A fresh take on the old hymn, “One Day,” it has blessed me:
One day the trumpet will sound for His coming,
One day the skies with His glories will shine;
Wonderful day, my Beloved One bringing,
My Savior, Jesus, is mine!”