Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My Fall - Part 1

It’s Monday, December 5, 2005. 5:30 am. This day starts production week in our worship arts ministry. A busy week it will be. Between church and our daughters school events, I will be on the go every day until Sunday night when the program is over. I live for weeks like this. I love the excitement, the extra rehearsals and the sense of unity production week brings. So I began my day early in the laundry room getting a head start on the daily chores.

I fell. I tripped and literally fell down each one of our basement steps. I caught myself with my hand, my right hand. (Remember, I was the pianist at this church) We immediately grabbed an ice bag and I began to take Aleve. By the time Wednesday night rehearsal got there, I was in some pretty serious pain. I played through the pain and tears and Thursday morning, my husband took me to the ER for an X-ray.

I walked out of the emergency room with a cast up to my elbow and an attitude of fury with God. Why would He allow this to happen the week of Christmas production, didn’t He know how that would effect our choir and orchestra!!

Over the next few weeks, God had me sit on the sidelines and watch as other people filled in for me. It was during this time that He opened my eyes to a particular area of sin in my life. I was confronted with the fact that I had fallen spiritually. The sad thing was and is that in the eyes of the world, and even some Christians, this area that had become a stronghold for me would be considered innocent and not a “sin”. It wasn’t really one of the BIG 10. Yet.

God took me on a journey and during this journey He posed a question to me. It was during a quiet time in my car sitting in the car pool line at my daughter's school. I was full of questions, but felt the Lord say to me “Stephanie, if you never sing another song, write another lyric, or play another note, could you, would you worship me? Am I enough for you?”

This question had been asked 4 years earlier in a women’s Bible study I attended. I remember thinking if God ever asked me that, I would say yes without question. But when it came right down to it, it wasn’t that easy for me to say yes, I really struggled with it. My first memory is on the piano bench with my Mom. Before I fell in love with my husband, there was the piano. Before I knew the joy of motherhood, there was the joy of making music at the piano. Even before I fell in love with Jesus and knew Him as my Savior, there was the piano. I was experiencing life without playing for the first time and I did not like any part of it. Could I go the rest of my earthly life without touching a piano key?

The few months before my fall down the stairs, my prayer life changed. We had seen a successful start to our new choir year, we had been praying all summer for God to pour out a fresh anointing on that ministry and HE did. God opened doors and I was able to go to an incredible conference to worship and learn from other women who also worked in Children's Music. We saw some answered prayer in our family life. All these major answers to prayer, and I got LAZY. God had moved in very visible ways all around me. I went from an active daily prayer time, to simply sending up crisis prayers when I saw a need. I also stopped listening. Deep down, I knew the sin was there and if I paused long enough to listen, I knew that God was going to give me a talkin' to. So I just avoided it. I'm ashamed to admit that, because some of you reading this were serving with me during this time. I let you down and for that I'm sorry.

Isaiah 29:13 spoke to me during this time. It says, "The Lord says, 'These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men'." My New Living Translation says "Their worship of me is made up only of rules learned by rote." My heart was far from Him. And my worship...well. What was I worshipping? God or my ability. I had carved an idol out of my ability and put it on a pedestal. God knocked that pedestal down.

Looking back, I can see how subtle the spiritual fall was. I knew I was slipping but just didn’t want to admit it. As I said, I got lazy in my prayer life and my guard was down. I had allowed my love for music, for the piano to become an idol. The affection and passion that had once been focused on Jesus, was now focused on something else. I had stopped asking God to play through me. I didn’t invite Him to sit on that bench with me anymore. It was “worship” by rote. My heart was far away from His heart.

I wouldn’t trade that Monday morning for anything in the world. Those 6 weeks of healing were hard. It hurt physically and spiritually. The funny thing was, the type of break I had was small and most of the time didn’t show up in x-rays until it had begun to heal. When the orthopedic doctor took my cast off and x-rayed my hand a few weeks later, there was no sign of a break. God totally healed my wrist and hand, the result of my physical fall. What is still amazing to me is that He did this while He was healing the break in my heart and soul, the result of my spiritual fall. I believe with all my heart that if I had not faced the sin and confessed my failure, God would not have allowed me to play again...ever. It was several weeks before I could answer that question. I'll never forget the day I did. I said "yes, Lord. You are more than enough for me. If I never play again, I will worship you." Shortly after, we received the word we would be moving to Atlanta. Leaving our church....and my "position". (More on that in a later post.)

So I ask you a tough question. Do you have an idol? Maybe your ability or position. Could it be a relationship? Your spouse or your child? Let me tell you as a broken and restored vessel who had to learn the hard way, when God says thou shall have no other gods before me, He means it. He is a jealous god and will not tolerate your idol worship very long. Ask Him to show you what your idol is and then confess that you need His help to tear it down. I promise you that He will.

13 comments:

Leigh Gray said...

Steph - can I call you Steph? - you are such a gifted writer - song writer i am sure as well. DOn't ever stop. Even when no one is looking or has the potential to never ever see your heart - keep writing. He is going to make your words known to many!! I mean this to bring encouragement to you!! I felt He told me to encourage you!! Keep writing!!

Love, Leigh

Stephanie (Ocean Mommy) said...

Leigh,

Thank you for those words, they are very timely.

And yes, you can call me steph. All of my siesta's do!

Refresh My Soul Blog said...

Oh Steph! I remember those days. It is so fun to walk through these stages and lessons in life together. I love you keeping it real girl! God has gifted you. We all go through those times of is God enough? We need to stay there always and when we do not you are right He will remind us!
Love you! Good talking to you today!
Ang

The Small Scribbler said...

Steph,

Very well written. One of your best posts, I think. As one who served with you during this time, I did not know that you were fighting this personal battle. God is faithful. I did know that it was a hard time for you though. Even if you were struggling, He filled in the gaps during that time. And you are so right, He has a way of removing idols. Holding lightly to the things of the world and holding tightly to Him is the cure.

Kate

Carol said...

Stephanie, I read this post through tear filled eyes. This was such an incredible outpouring of your heart. And what an incredible reminder to put NOTHING before Him. Thank you for that.

jodi said...

Stephanie, this is an awesome post and I will consider your questions at the end. You are right, sometimes it is so subtle and not one of the "top 10", but wrong nonetheless. Great job!

Diann said...

That's a tough one. My husband tells a very similar story in his life about football. And you're right, God is serious about us not putting any other gods before Him. Thank you for sharing your experience as a reminder to keep on my guard against that.

Amy Wyatt said...

Henry Blackaby says in "Experiencing God" that He will use other people to speak to you. This was definitely one of those times for me. Thank you for your honesty and sharing. It truly impacted me.

Anonymous said...

Hey Steph! Jennifer from Florida here! Thank you for your transparency! God is a jealous God! I've been convicted many times by Is 29:13 and was again just now while reading your post! I've been fighting this battle with the enemy lately. Thank you for the reminder and the encouragement. The Lord is using you greatly in my life!

Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

Steph,

Thanks for sharing that incredibly transparent & moving story!

Blessings!

Meg said...

Hi Stephanie. THis is a great story of God's faithful work in our lives. Cool! Love, Meg

Little Steps Of Faith said...

Amen siesta..AMEN:)

That was pretty personal, but I know God will bless you dearly for sharing it:)

Be Blessed:)

Angie

Stephanie said...

Hi Stephanie....this is Stephanie, from Minnesota. You left a comment on my blog about my miscarriage and I just wanted to thank you. First of all, what an incredible post you left on your blog and what a timely question for me...I so appreciate your sweet heart and your concern and kindness for a total stranger like me. It has been rough and I am walking in foreign territory, but the Lord is faithful and He's sending me so many hugs through friends, family and people like you, that I feel overwhelmed with love and support. It's so comforting to hear from women who have been there and to know that my feelings and emotions are validated. I am choosing to trust the Lord because I know I can and I am choosing to find the good woven in with the bad. Thank you for encouraging me tonight and for reminding me that He is enough. Blessings to you...
Love,
Stephanie