Fasting My Voice In NY

“If we are going to worship in Spirit, we must develop a spirit of worship.”
-Michael Catt

I am now at NTS camp in South Carolina but I want to reflect on my fast in New York. I’m so glad I waited to start writing this until today because this week God is doing awesome things during the worship sessions.

If someone asked me what my biggest passion is, I would say worship. I lead worship wherever I can and at my church and my favorite sound in the whole wide world is when instruments stop, I step away from the mic, and I hear God’s children crying out to God with voices. The voices I hear are not always the best voices, I admit. But I always want to step down from the stage and tell those people to sing louder. They are crying out to their Heavenly Father with praise with all they’ve got. If someone was trying out for American Idol and could not sing anything on pitch, I couldn’t listen. I’m just being honest.

When I hear people singing during worship with all they’ve got, losing their voices in the process, I see a passion that cannot be explained. It is a feeling where everyone in the room is one as we worship a present Creator. I love that.

Last week on the first night of worship, I started thinking about the privelage I have to sing. Singing is my favorite thing to do and I probably sing more than anything else besides breathe. Seriously. When am I not humming a tune?

I’m also the one to comments on everything with a song. For example, someone would say:

“Hey, you need to let it go so I can-”

I would interupt and sing:

“Let it go! Let it go! Can’t hold it back anymooooore!”

That was a bad example because don’t we all have that song forever stuck in our heads?

While the band was playing during a night session at camp, the hands were lifted high and I wanted to show God that I want to worship Him with more than just my voice. I wanted to fast singing. We don’t always fast bad things. We fast food and we need food! So I saw my love for singing along with the words and joining in the chorus and gave that all to God.

Giving up singing along with everyone made my feet drag everytime I entered in the worship space. I even resisted humming along to remain completely silent and reflective. The way I wanted to practice worshiping was with my body and heart. This fast made a way for me to check my heart and priorities, pray for others, and to hear from God. Amazingly, when you stop talking (or in this case singing), God will speak. How about that?

God reminded me repeatedly about mutes. How different, crazy, and difficult that would be for me. What if I lost my voice for some reason? What if a Christian went to church every Sunday and could not sing along to their favorite worship song? Or any song in general? I couldn’t imagine. Like I said, I sing A LOT.

But if I didn’t have my voice, how would I still give God my all? How would that look during a musical worship time? I want to continue leading worship throughout my life and I couldn’t imagine do anything else.

This week in South Carolina, I sat in the very back of the auditorium during the first night of worship. Something caught my eye that must catch everyone’s eye when they see this guy. There is a student, in high school, who doesn’t have arms. He has hands almost connected to his shoulders. I don’t know why that is or his story, but I saw him worship. It almost brought tears to my eyes. He was moving and raising his hands to the Heavens as much as he could. His body agreed with the music as he sang and worshiped without arms. I see everyone around him raising their hands in worship, surrendering and singing as loud as they can. The band talks a lot about raising their hands and what that means: surrender. This guy is worshiping with what he has. And as I saw him being taken on a journey with God in that moment, I remembered my experience with worshiping without a voice.

If I didn’t have my arms, how could I still give God my all? How would that look during a musical worship time?

I saw what it looked like. It was just another brother in Christ worshiping our Heavenly father but it was also so much more. The heart behind those words sung hit my ears harder than the screaming voices in the crowd. The heart is what matters during worship. Not the instruments, lights, perfect voices, how you lift your hands or look during worhsip, but the heart that pours from the inside out.

Your heart will paint a picture for the world to see. You are the canvas. Whatever is in your heart will come out. Whether the picture will be a masterpiece or something that is thrown in the trash is decided by what you allow to enter into your heart.

Learning this helped me discover where my heart truly was in worship. Was my heart in check? Was my heart, soul, and mind fully committed to Him during that time?

I also learned not to worship a worship song. Sometimes we get caught up in the singing along with our favorite songs that we’re doing just that. I realized we sometimes might worship a song a while we’re worshiping our Father. That time needs to be ALL for Him. We need to leave our obsessions outside the doors of our worship space. That includes our obsession for a certain worship song that we want to be played that night. We should have a heart for worship from the moment we walk in, for every song, until we walk out to live it out.

When the band started playing “Oceans” by Hillsong, a wonderful song, my whole body was compelling me to sing along. I felt the voice creep up in my throat to join my friends in singing. But it was because I loved the song. Not because I wanted to worship.

While it may sound wierd and stupid to you, this really changed my whole perspective on why I worship. Why do I lead worship? Why do we gather together to sing these words that we see on a screen? What’s the purpose?

Whether we know the song or not, a worship time should not be comfortable. Being with other Christ followers and being in a safe place to express yourself is comfortable and inviting… But worship isn’t a time to only sing songs we know and wait to engage when the band plays a song we are familiar with. Worship is a time to invite God in, a time to thank Him, a time to hear from Him. He does many things during worship. So stretch yourself in worship. Do new songs that speak so much truth and may bless someone with a word that has been layed on their heart. Don’t worry about the people around you and worship God with your body, mind, and soul.

Take what happened during worship time and let your voice continue praising Him with every word you say afterwards. Let worship be an everlasting song on your lips wherever you may be or whatever you may be doing. Not just in church or at camp or wherever it may be.

Worship with all that you have. God deserves it.

Stoplight.

~ Rushing into dating or a relationship is like trying to make a traffic light that is about to turn red. ~

You know when you’re not going to make a light when you see that burnt yellow glow fade in the distance. You still try to make it anyways. You will not, under any circumstance, wait 1.5 minutes for that green light.

Go! Go! Go!

We don’t like to stop. We don’t like to wait. I think most Americans are impatient… Seriously. Am I wrong? The line of 5 or 6 people at Starbucks is too long and we definately cannot go the speed limit when we could go at least 10 mph above it.

My piano teacher noticed that in her life. For lent she gave up speeding. When she told me that, I respected her much more than I already did. Her reflection of her fast-paced life spoke into mine and brought me to think about a different kind of speeding: speeding into relationships.

Why speed ahead and run a red light when you could most likely crash? Why date someone when neither of you are ready and it could end up with hatred and heartbreak?

You could also get a ticket. Sometimes in life, God may send us a “ticket” or a reminder that what we are doing is wrong. What we are doing may not be the best thing for the path set out before us and all He wants is for us to take the right “exit”. These tickets that He sends us have a price, just like real tickets. That price isn’t necessarily cheap either.

I think this comparison can deal with other things as well. Maybe a job. Maybe a big purchase. Maybe a big decision that needs time for thinking. Whatever it may be, some things simply need time to grow and become what it needs to become… for what you need to become.

So just wait. Don’t worry. Before you know it, you’ll get that green light to GO.

Matthew 6:33-34: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Romans 8:25: “But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.”

Every Moment

Sometimes when I’m writing, I think about the next few words I’m going to say and then I start wrting the next word instead of the word I am writing at that moment. If that doesn’t make sense to you, I basically write: “I am gone in life” instead of “I am going nowhere in life”. Or something like that…

I think this is how many of us live our lives as well. If any of you are like me, you like to plan your whole days and weeks out in advance. I like to know what is next and where I am going. Always. Sometimes, it feels like nowhere. I think that is because I think about the future too much. Thinking about the future too much makes me look forward to certain things or events more than what I am actually doing in the moment I am in. I can live life and walk around with this one future event in mind and wait for that future moment for a sense of completeness and happiness.

The truth is, that future moment is like any other moment. It will pass as quickly as the rest. Then what? Hope for the next big thing in your life again? Focus your sense of happiness on those few things? Why?

Why only allow ourselves a few moments of happiness when we can thrive on every moment every day?

At the moment, I can’t stop thinking about college… what I’m going to do with my life… getting a job… and if I will move far away. I’ve realized how silly it is worrying over this. I am so worried about what I will do with my life and that one special moment when I’ve “made it” and got that perfect job, perfect guy, perfect life put together in the future… But God has opened my eyes to what my life is all about.

While I’m so focused on what my life will become, I’ve realized that what I do with my life is a decision I make every morning when I wake up. Life is not just one moment, one job, on place, or one event. It is who you are in every moment and who you are becoming in that moment. I know that you hear this saying all the time, “How do you know how many days you have left?” So true. But how many days do you have left with the people around you? With the place you’re currently living? Those questions have hit me hard because I have two little sisters that I love so much. I just don’t really know the answer to those questions.

This next year will be my senior year and that is still sinking in. That process is as deep as the ocean and the anchor of realization is slowly falling to the bottom… But it is not quite there yet. This year will be memorable and stressful. It will go by fast and soon I’ll have to make a decision regarding which path I will take after high school. There are so many roads to take. But I know for a fact that I have a God that will lead me to the right path in His perfect timing.

His timing is something that humans tend to have a hard time adjusting to while it always works out in the end. He knows. He is in control. And this is what He has taught me through this process of learning to living in the moment:

Thrive on every day with a thankful heart for another day. Do not wait for college, money, the dream job, or that dream spouse to fufill your life. Those things can just walk into your life on any good day to make it even more special.

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Isaiah 46:4- “I will be your God throughout your lifetime-
until your hair is white with age.
I made you, and I will care for you.
I will carry you along and save you.”

Isaiah 46:13- “Form I am ready to set things right,
not in the distant future,
but right now!”