a few months ago i had an opportunity to live out what i say i believe when it comes to worship. musical worship. [because that's not the only kind of worship, you know?] if you hadn't picked up on it already, i am a singer and i sing in my church's choir/praise team. if you have read this post from awhile back, you know why i sing. and you know that i know it's not about me. but that's easy to say and to believe when you get to sing lots of solos and get lots of compliments from people, right?
even though it's not about me, you still want to see some photos of me singing, right? what's a blog post without photos?
do you know "revelation song"? it's my all time favorite. from revelation 4 and 5, it is John's vision of heaven. just breathtaking [the passages in revelation, AND the song]. for the last few years, i would sing the solo for that song, anytime we would sing it in church.
one morning about six months ago, i came to church as usual and found out that we were singing "revelation song"... but i wasn't singing the solo. [or else i would have known we were singing it, right?]. a new girl who had recently joined the choir was going to sing it [she is amazing and talented and sweet, and in my opinion, has a much better voice than i do]. at first, i was a little bit bummed, just because it was my favorite song. but God showed me His purpose in it pretty quickly.
after we rehearsed it inside the sanctuary like usual, i walked back into our choir room and was met with [i'll give them the benefit of the doubt: they were probably well-meaning] countless people saying they were so sorry that she was singing "my song." i'll be honest with you, i was shocked. i have no idea why anyone would say that. it was a beautiful opportunity for me to remember what God had showed me those years ago, that it's not about me, and to explain that to all those people who thought somehow it ever was about me. for those of you who are family members and said this to me, that's okay, i forgive you... you're supposed to say stuff like that ;) oh, and for everyone else, don't worry, i can't even remember the specific people who said something, so i'm not thinking of someone in particular while i write this... so don't feel bad!
the really sad part was that some people actually had the nerve to go up to the "new girl" and proclaim that "revelation song is Aly's song, didn't you know? i'm really sorry that she can't sing it today". if i remember correctly, that very morning on television [past services are televised through Turning Point, Sundays at 7am] one of the songs we sang was "revelation song" and i was singing the solo. that must have been why people even remembered or cared in the first place? [is anyone still following this story-line?]
more photos of me singing... i know
luckily i had the opportunity to chat with the "new girl" and reassure her that these people were definitely not echoing my feelings, they were speaking for themselves and what they were saying was insensitive and ignorant and flat out not true. we bonded that day and have remained friends since.
i believe that God used "revelation song", specifically, for this situation. take the very first line of the song:
worthy is the Lamb who was slain [regardless of whether i am singing the solo or not]
and revelation 5 continues:
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise! [again, regardless of who is singing the solo]
on the way home from church i wondered, though: sure, that's one song for which i may not get to sing the solo anymore. no big deal. but what if i lost my vocal ability altogether? what if i literally could not sing another note again in my life? then what? for as long as i can remember, that's been my gift. it's been the one thing that keeps me sane, it's the best way i know to bring glory to God, and it's just who i am.
what if something happened and i was never able to sing another note? would i lose my identity? would i lose my ability or [even worse] desire to worship God? would i still love Him? those thoughts scared me.
do i love Him because He's given me a beautiful way to express it?
or because of the great blessings He has lavished on me?
or do i love Him solely because of who He is?
is my identity in Christ alone, or in the methods i use to proclaim Him?
is my identity in the Giver Himself, or in the gifts that He gives?
is my identity in Christ, or in whatever i think i have to offer Him?
fast forward a few months. last sunday night we had the privilege to sing with the great Charles Billingsley in a music-only service. he used to lead worship at our church so he was back for a little visit. i think you'll agree once you listen, when i say he has the best voice i had ever heard in my life... interestingly enough, he told a moving testimony of how he actually lost his voice. and there was a small chance he may never sing again. a friend asked him: if he really couldn't ever sing again, would he still love God? i remembered my own thoughts those months ago and was challenged afresh.
i wonder what it is for you? it may not be singing. it may be something else that wraps up your identity. being a mother? being a wife or homemaker? exercising, your job, painting, writing, photographing... what is it? is there a way that you love to express worship? if it was taken away, would you still love God? would your identity remain intact? those are tough, soul-searching questions. and the answers are vitally important. ponder it today and ask God to help you make HIM the sole purpose of your life. that no matter how it is expressed, you bring glory to God in every little thing.
whether or not your voice still sings.
now, take a listen to charles. i highly recommend watching this entire service from sunday night - click here to watch it -you will be blown away. my friend Joi sings a few songs, too, and she's also incredible.
you can find me in the choir loft, first row, second one in from the left :)
if you want to skip to his testimony that i referenced above, drag that little dial below the video a tiny bit less than half-way through. here's a photo of it, so you know exactly where to go:
click here to get to the video.