Sunday, January 13, 2008

Worship Journal part 3

Thanks so much for your encouraging comments and responses on these journal entries. If I could look you in the eye and hug your neck I would. :) Here is the 3rd part. Some of my testimony is in the next two posts. I've shared here before but since I journaled it during this time I feel like I need to leave it in. So if you've heard it before, you may want to scroll on through that part!!! Have a wonderful week!

When I think of worship leaders I don’t just think of music ministers, musicians, or choir members. I think of ordinary people who have most often been through or are going through hard stuff, and yet choose to worship. Those people are truly bringing a sacrifice of praise to the Lord. True worship leading comes from a heart that has been transformed. A heart that longs for people to experience that transformation in their life. It’s praying God move in us. Ooze out of every pore of our being and be all over us. Not just on Sunday but at work, at home, and yes even in rehearsal.

Isaiah 29:13 spoke to my heart during one of the darkest times of my life.
“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 is made up only of rules learned by rote.” This pierced my heart. How often do we spend weeks learning a song, hours listening to the CD, but the words never move from our mouth to our heart?

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 a week like this brings. So, I began my day early in the laundry room getting a head start on the daily chores.

Then 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 affect me, not to mention our choir and orchestra!!

Over the next few weeks, God showed me the area of my life that had become a stronghold. He showed me my sin and I was confronted with the fact that I had fallen spiritually. The sad thing is that in the eyes of the world, and even some Christians, my stronghold would be considered innocent and not a “sin”. It wasn’t really one of the BIG 10.

God took me on a journey and during this journey He posed a question to me. It was during a quiet time, 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 and 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. I was experiencing life without playing the piano and I did not like any part of it. Could I go the rest of my earthly life without touching a piano key? What was I worshipping, God or my ability. I had carved an idol out of my ability and put it on a pedestal and God knocked that pedestal down.

Looking back, I can see how subtle the fall was, and how I knew I was slipping but just didn’t want to admit it. 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. 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, and 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.

So I ask you a tough question. What is your motivation to be a worship leader? Why do you come to rehearsal each week? Do you have an idol? Maybe your ability or position, maybe it’s not even related to the worship ministry. Could it be a relationship? Your spouse or your child? Let me tell you as a broken and restored vessel who learned 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.


jenmom said...

Hey Steph,
I used some of your material in my sunday school lesson this morning and it really added a very practical element to the lesson. Thanks for allowing me to use your words! Also, not to be pushy about the book idea, but you might be interested to know that for the next few days on Lysa Terkuerst's blog she will be answering questions and having discussions about the process of writing and publishing a book. Just to let you know because I think you have an awesome gift of putting such intimate things of the Lord down in such beautiful words! Love you girl!

Fran said...

God is so good isn't He?? He'll get us when we aren't looking or expecting it. I had a moment like that too.....I had been going 101 mph for everyone and even doing "good work" but I wasn't living for Him. He settled me down for 4 weeks in the bed. I had my tonsils out at 31 and couldn't speak. So....He and I had quite a time to talk and a lot of listening. I learned soooo much during that time.

Wouldn't trade it for anything!
I love that!

Be God's always~

Carol said...

This was beautiful. This testimony that you posted before spoke to me so much the first time as well.

Leah said...


As I am beginning my speaking/teaching ministry, my greatest fear has been and continues to be that I will forget Jesus in all of it. I fear that pride will take over and rule me and I sooooo do not want that to happen. I pray daily for the Lord to keep me cognizant of the reality of pride and how easily it is to fall into it. Thanks for the wonderful reminder of how easy it is for those of us in leadership and ministry to fall.


BethAnne said...

Like your other journal entry, this applies to those of us who can't carry a tune. Would I worship even if everything was taken away from me? I loved this and plan to come back and read it again .

Earen said...

I wanted to share with you that I was worshiping in church this past Sunday & thought of your words you'd shared during that time. I've appreciated your heart & your words and it has caused me to step back & really think! Keep sharing!