Monday, August 28, 2006

Then Sings My Soul

One day last week I was emailing with a friend who's on the worship staff at our church, and she mentioned, sort of off-handedly, that the praise team wouldn't be singing in church Sunday because we were having a "spoken word" service.

"Spoken word" service?

I'm sorry?


Because I know I've only mentioned it, like, 74 times, but I'm a person who totally worships through music. It gets to me, way down deep, in the places that words alone have a hard time reaching.

So while I should probably be embarrassed to tell you this, I'll just go ahead and confess: I wasn't looking forward to church yesterday. I was dreading not being able to sing. I was concerned that our time in "big church," which typically runs about an hour and a half, was going to creeeeeeep by. That I would look down at my watch, convinced that we'd been there for two hours, and find that it had been more like fifteen minutes.

I was apprehensive, is what I'm sayin'.

When church started at nine, there was a bit of instrumental music. No singing. I'm pretty sure that I was jiggling my leg out of sheer discomfort. Two people walked out on the stage, and they took turns reciting - from memory - a passage from Pslams. They were followed by three more people. Who were followed by three more people. The Speakers ranged in age from about eight to about eighty - and while it took me a little while to get past being nervous for them as they recited Scripture and occasionally struggled with a word or phrase, I eventually started to soak up the Message instead of being worried for the messengers.

But I was still a little squirmy - couldn't we sing, you know, just a little bit? Just a smidge?

About that time, eight people walked down the steps at the front of the stage, and they began to recite a passage from Proverbs - only not in English. We heard part of the passage in Spanish, part in German, then Russian, French, Filipino, Swahili, Hebrew and Thai. And while I would love to be able to explain what happened in my heart during those three or four minutes - I just can't do it. Words fail me. It was an unbelievably moving reminder of the power of God's Word.

Color me surprised. :-)

Because here's the deal. I do a pretty good job of keeping God's Word hidden in my heart. I think, over the last six or seven years, I've developed an understanding of why that's so essential. I believe Him, I trust Him, I love Him, and I need His Word - all the time.

But sometimes, in worship, I get it backwards. Sometimes, in worship, I get it all wrong. Maybe it's because I find myself more interested in what we're singing than what God's saying. Maybe it's because I respond more to my emotion than I do to His Truth. Maybe it's because, in a way, I worship a god I've created instead of The God who created the universe, The God who created me.

But I'll tell you: listening to God's Word for an hour and a half has a way of snapping all that stuff right back into perspective.

So while my mouth didn't get to do any singing yesterday, my spirit did. And next week, when we sing again, I pray my focus won't be on how we worship - I pray it'll be on Who we worship. I pray that when I start to fall back into my "OH I LOVE THIS SONG" tendency, that the Holy Spirit would prick my heart and remind me that without the One who first loved us, there would be no song to sing.

And I missed the music yesterday. I really did.

But, in this particular instance, taking away the music enabled me to hear the message - and The Message - loud and clear.


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