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Monday, November 2, 2009

I've just come home from one of my biggest joys and biggest spiritual challenges - worship team practice.

It's a joy because I love to worship God, and I've always loved to sing. Growing up, I was that little girl in her bedroom, singing dramatically with the hairbrush, dreaming of the day when my favorite band would invite me up as a guest lead singer.

From a very early age, I sang in school choruses, church choirs and a short stint in a Christian band in the early 80s. (Our one "tour" consisted of singing in Presbyterian churches in northern Arizona and the California coast).

Yet singing has also been a source of spiritual challenge, because it's been in worship where God has revealed most of my pride issues. You see, there is always a danger when you are on a stage of any kind to start to think that you've got it all together. In fact, you can easily start to think that if only people would listen to you, things could really flow more smoothly. And that you really could (and should) be selected to sing in this program, and given that solo, and so on.

In hindsight, I can see God was starting to split open my heart and reveal my pride, when 11 years ago when we moved to Charlotte, and He clearly told me to not sing. In fact, He told me to not tell anyone I could sing. I didn't listen. I let it "slip out" one day in a Bible study, and that led to an opportunity to help lead worship at an event. The leader of that event sensed my pride issues coming to the surface, and I was "relieved" of that role with the explanation that they would be using someone on the worship team.

In spite of the embarrassment, something amazing happened when I wasn't leading worship. I learned to actually worship. When I wasn't worried about how I sounded, or hitting the right note, or singing the right words, I just relaxed and focused on God. It was in my humility that I sought God as I never had before.

It was six years before God released me to be back on the worship team. And to be honest, it is still a place where I continue to lay down my pride and submit in humility. Years ago I asked God to do whatever it took to remove pride from my life, and He is faithful. But I will confess, it is often difficult, uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing.

Like the time I was asked to sing a solo at a women's retreat, and the accompaniment CD stopped after the first verse. Just stopped. The sound team restarted it, I started singing and it stopped again. So we started again, and finally I was able to finish the song. No one could understand what happened to the CD. I just smiled because I was pretty sure I knew Who stopped the CD.

My voice has changed over the years, and I will probably never get another solo. I may be one of the oldest back up singers on the team. And I will occasionally sing a wrong word or hit a wrong note. But my hands will be raised in praise, and I'll sing at the top of my voice out of love for my Savior.

I know the day will come when I won't be on the team, and some young girl will take my place. And I will still be worshipping God, and thanking Him for not letting me stay in the place I once was.

In His Love,


P.S. If you've visited today from reading my Encouragement for Today devotion, entitled "I Would Have Made a Great Pharisee" I bid you welcome. If you haven't seen it, please hop over to the P31 site and give it a read.


Nancy J Locke said...

Glynnis, what a BEAUTIFUL testimony! The Lord wants you to sing a new song. I think he may have lyrics writing in mind. :D

Loved your Encouragement Today post also!

Blessings! Nancy J Locke

Diane Rumley said...

Thank you for your openess and honesty. Keep on singing for an audience of one and you'll sing forever more!



Julie@comehaveapeace said...

I appreciate this today, Glynnis. I blogged yesterday about how God has changed my ability to worship through music, and it has been a deep rut to walk through in learning what He wants to show me through the "letting go." He has shown me how to worship in ways I wouldn't have naturally chosen.

I guess our minds have been in the same track, lately, as I've been studying Matthew 5 and Jesus' challenge about the Pharisees' external righteousness and true righteousness. I'll send my Bible study gals over to read the post today at P31. Thank you!

Colleen said...

Hi, Glynnis,

As a singer and a worship leader I have struggled with the issues of pride. But it is when I sing that I am closest to God, and I know He wants to use me this way. I feel it is why He made me and gave me the gift to sing.

As a child, I, too dreamed of stardom. I was never encouraged, in fact I was discouraged, from dreaming, but it never stopped me. I always knew something was out there for me. As I aged and moved on with my life, I gave up on my dream.

That's when God moved in and let me know that I was to sing for Him, It is my great joy, and Sunday is my very favorite day of the week. I sing with other groups during the week, but singing for God is what lifts me up, and I wish I could do it every single day.

Chris Sligh has a great song, "Empty Me", which goes "Empty me, of the selfishness inside. Every vain ambition, and the poison of my pride. And every foolish thing my heart holds onto. Empty me of me so I can be filled with you".

Before I sing, I pray for the Holy Spirit to fill me, and to pour God's love out over all those who will hear. I still struggle with letting go of "me". But God waited until I was in my forties before He pointed me in this direction. I give Him back the gift He has given me in the desire for Him to use me as He will. I pray to be humbled before Him.

I pray He will continue to use me. Perhaps some of my thoughts will encourage you, too. You know God uses us best when we are broken before Him, so Keep on Singing!: )

Melissa said...

I came by after reading the Proverbs 31 devotional today (I think I'd have made a great Pharisee too). I really appreciated your post on pride. It's such an easy trap to fall into. You shared very transparently and I always appreciate that : )

Anonymous said...

I LOVE your devo for today, Glynnis. Thank you! God has been teaching me along that same theme for a couple of months now (I just read The Prodigal God). Your words were a great reminder to my heart today - I would have made a great Pharisee too, unfortunately!

Tammy Nischan said...

I read the devo. Wow! Loved it. Needed it. Related to it in a very personal way.

Read today's post. Wow! Loved it. Needed it. Related to it in a very personal way.

One question?

Are we twins separated at birth? (Ok, except for the singing part........I'm not a singer. :) )

Love you!

Lucy Munoz said...

Thank you for your devotion also, it makes me feel a bit more worthy of God's love to know that I am not the only one to be a good candidate to have been a perfect fit for a Pharisee. It is humbling to be reminded that even though our intentions are in the right place, the end product sometimes is not, it can even be wayyyyyy off!

Thank you

Amber Ford said...

Haha. Girl with the brush in her bedroom. I can SO relate! Something was said to me as a child, though, that made me never want to sing in front of others and as my confidence has grown that I at least don't have a horrible voice, I sing louder in church than I did several years ago. But even not on a stage, just sitting in the congregation, I can find myself more focused on my own voice and harmonizing and not on the Great and Mighty God we serve. And I have to refocus my attention because worship is where God speaks to me and releases and heals me and I certainly don't want to miss out on His blessing because I was too focused on how I sound!
Thanks Glynnis! You are a beautiful woman of God and you bless my life!

Bonita said...

Wow, Glynnis, you really put it all out there. You are the last person I'd ever consider prideful and after reading this post I'm totally floored by your humility. What an inspiration!

KelliGirl said...

Your story really blessed me. I can relate...not because I lead worship (I can't sing!)... but because of certain positions I have in my church that put me in the forefront. Reading your words made me see some pride issues that need to be dealt with.

I do prison ministry and this past week we didn't have any music people for our worship service. We asked if any of the inmates wanted to sing and a few of them came forward. Most of them were quite off tune, but the love and passion with which they sang praised Jesus more beautifully than the most practiced choir. I saw what worship really looks like.

Blessings to you,