All Choked up (Repost)

Yesterday, during our worship service at FRC, Pastor Tim talked about the importance of inviting the Holy Spirit into our time of worship. He encouraged us as a congregation to set aside some of our preconceived ideas and traditions and reconsider how we participate and contribute to worship. In response to what was spoken yesterday morning and the time that followed for me leading worship at the piano, I would like to offer up this re-post from February 6, 2012 I think it speaks to my heart as a worship leader within the local church setting.
Music has the power to speak to the emotions, and it’s a universal language that needs little or no explanation as it touches the heart. A person doesn’t have to be a musician to be affected and drawn in by music, but for one who loves music with a heightened passion, sometimes a song is all it takes to create an unforgettable moment.
I have experienced this very thing on more than one occasion, but within this past year, I have witnessed the incredible power of music as a confirmation of calling on my life. Many of you know about my recent graduation from Crown College with a Masters in Ministry Leadership. The journey to obtaining the degree was an incredible opportunity, but I can honestly say that I learned more about music and ministry outside of the classroom.
I began an informal internship at First Reformed, my home church, and took part in leading praise and worship and participating in the worship band. Gradually, I was given more and more responsibility until I began to fall into a routine of commitments. I was comfortable at First Reformed, but even so, I knew the volunteer hours would probably not amount to a paid position. So I began to put my name out to other churches who were seeking a music and worship director. I had several interviews and even more application submissions, but never once was I hired. I was feeling overwhelmed and generally unwanted.
But then I was presented with an opportunity almost too good to pass up. If I moved forward, I would be able to expand my music career and audience by leaps and bounds, and it seemed that God was opening the necessary doors so I could embrace this new avenue. But just as I started to become comfortable with the idea, the door practically slammed in my face. I was rejected again, and even worse, I felt I had used my home church to my benefit in my pursuit of the wasted opportunity.
You see, my church had hosted a concert to support this venture, and we had decided to move forward in order to celebrate my recent graduation from Crown. Everything had come together smoothly, but something still wasn’t right. I was performing on that stage and telling stories about my music, but everything seemed to fall flat. As I moved into my second-to-last song in the program, I felt the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart; “Let them sing,” I discerned. At first, I wanted to object. We didn’t have a PowerPoint lined up for that song, so the words would not be projected. How could the crowd sing along if they couldn’t follow the words?
But even in the face of doubt, I invited the audience to sing along with me, and they continued singing well into my final song. We sang Chris Tomlin’s “I will Rise” and Jennie Lee Riddle’s “Revelation Song” with such passion that I felt tears building in the back of my eyes. Often, I wanted to stop singing just to hear the crowd worshipping without me holding them back.
This incredible moment was never far from my memory as I walked away from the lost opportunity and tried to immerse myself in work and commitments. The only thing that really kept me going was my continued work at FRC. The congregation was a wealth of support for my music and ministry, and I felt so loved and appreciated. Then, in late July, came the greatest surprise of all; FRC wanted to hire me on as Music and Worship Director!
I didn’t have to contemplate the offer long before I jumped headlong into pursing the position. There was a great deal of ground to cover in preparing for my official start-date, but all the while, I had immense peace about the decision. Confirmation of my calling was not long in coming.
There is certainly nothing like hearing “Shout to the Lord” sung with such intensity that the church walls practically resonated with the sound one morning at worship. Again, I wanted to stop singing at the microphone just to revel in the moment. My eyes fill with tears when I consider the formation of my praise and worship team, OneVoice, and the commitment of four women who are willing to worship in song. I marvel at the many ways in which God has used me and the other musicians at FRC to lead our congregation in worship, and Sunday morning worship services will never cease to bring a smile to my face. It makes my work at the church more than just a job; it makes it a call to action and a true joy— even as I fight back tears once more. I’m all choked up, but it is here that worship and music collide.

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