Sunday’s music in worship was interesting – and not necessarily in a good way. We were having sound system problems and I got frustrated to the point of pulling out my fancy in-ear monitors and deciding to watch our drummer and listen for the pipe organ to get any sense of what was happening sonically.
Going through my head halfway through the second verse: “Ugh. This is not going well. I bet the choir is not happy. I bet our worship leader is about to explode… and why shouldn’t he? This is a mess. I can’t worship like this.”
And that’s when it hit me – I actually in the midst of a worship service, helping to lead a congregation, and I am allowing circumstances as meaningless as the operation of microphones and speakers to dictate whether or not I will worship and glorify God. “I can’t worship like this.” Those words stung and convicted. What in the world is my problem?
You could say that I simply want to offer my absolute best in worship – and while I certainly hope that is true, that was not the foundational problem this time. That would be a generous pat on the back to make me feel better. But I know better.
I want things to be right, because on some level, I want to be why they are right so that I can offer that “right”-ness to God. Then, maybe He will love me and be proud of me. I want other folks to experience something done well and know that they know I had a part in bringing it about. This is the ugly, jealous, and sinful heart of pride, and as a church musician, I am particularly vulnerable.
I am thankful that my experience in worship yesterday included enough problems to expose and convict me of my prideful heart, but not so many problems as to affect our congregation. I looked out and saw a congregation giving of themselves freely in worship, singing praises to God. Seeing them and the faces of the worshiping choir members helped bring me back to a place where I could again lift up my own heart to God, knowing that He loves me.
God convicts us just as we are – not so that we may remain broken, but so we may be emboldened by His love and power to put our whole trust and faith in Him rather than trying to fix everything on our own. God loves me, but not because I can offer anything or do anything special. I have nothing to offer except what He has already given me. As John Wesley says in his covenant prayer, I can be “used for Thee or set aside for Thee” – but in either case, it is to His glory. We are loved by God, and it is not because we have done anything to earn it. His love is simply extravagant. It is the cup that overflows.
Soli deo gloria – to God alone be the glory.