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Sunday, July 10, 2011

All Yours - A Confession

Disclaimer: I was awake in the middle of the night, exhausted from a long week at camp, but unable to sleep. I have been earnestly praying for The Crossroads, specifically our season of transition with our worship pastor leaving and several families being transferred out of state or moving to other cities. While I was mid prayer, God smacked me in the face with some sin. I prayed through the sin, accepted forgiveness and thought we were done. As I stared at the ceiling watching the shadows dance in the moonlight, God gently nudged me with a reminder that sometimes sin needs to be confessed publicly. So this is my garbled, late night rambling confession.

I don't remember a time that I was not in love with music. One of my earliest memories is as a tiny child standing on my toy box with my cowboy boots and a cowboy hat singing original compositions at the top of my voice. I daydreamed of growing up to be Dolly Parton or Loretta Lynn. My parents took me to every gospel music show in town, and my mom and I were steady customers at the local Saturday night country music show. When I was about 7, my parents recognized within me some musical talent and allowed me to take piano lessons. I fell completely and totally in love. I worked hard to be excellent, practicing several hours a day as a teen.

I loved to perform on stage. I was in countless recitals and competitions. Somewhere I probably still have an old box of trophies. Every trophy was a symbol of acceptance, feeding my teen appetite for approval. I often had the opportunity to play in church, even as a kid. I thrived on the attention I received after playing well. My soul thrilled when I played an impossibly complicated offertory piece and got applauded when I finished. I was completely and totally consumed with using music for my own glory.

When I accepted Christ at 18, I came empty handed. I realized I had done many good deeds to receive the praise of others. I had nothing at all that had not been done out of selfish motivation. When I looked at my life, I picked out my favorite thing and offered it as a sacrifice. I distinctly remember praying soon after I became a believer, "God, my fingers are yours. I commit to play anytime and anywhere that you will give me an opportunity to be used for your glory." Compared to the great music talents in the world, I gave God loaves and fishes. However, over the years I have done my best to be faithful to my word and God has blessed me in ways I never imagined. On that day that I prayed, I never would have predicted how much God would use my tiny gift to teach me about Himself. I did not know the intimate connection that would happen as I worshiped alone at the piano, or the amazingly beautiful privilege that it would be to have a small part in leading others into God's presence.

Tonight as I was praying, God smacked me in the face with the sin of idolatry. There I was, laying in bed innocently praying for our church that is in a time of transition. As I prayed for the needs of our church, my prayer shifted inward. I asked God to show me anything in my heart that might be keeping me from releasing completely in worship or that might be hindering others around me from worshiping. This is not an easy prayer for me, because I like approval - not necessarily truth.

God showed me that in recent months I have allowed the fact that I am a part of a cool band playing cool songs in a cool church plant to supersede the notion of how privileged I am to worship the God of the universe! I have unknowingly been consumed with how awesome our band is rather than being humbly surrendered to God's plan. This morning we played "Here I am to Worship." This song was a mile marker event in my musical history. Years and years ago, God used this song to miraculously teach me how to play contemporary worship music. Tonight as I was sharing the story with some good friends, I said something along the lines of, "Every time I play that song it is a reminder that everything that I am able to do musically is a straight up gift from God." As I was praying that sentence replayed over and over in my head. I was confronted with the harsh reality that I have been trying to play in my own strength.

So I simply asked for God's forgiveness that I had somehow unknowingly shifted the spotlight off of Him and onto me. I spent some time recommitting that what small talent I have is totally and completely God's. It is for his glory, and his alone. I want to find pleasure in using it to point to God, not to make people think that I am cool, or that my band is cool, or that The Crossroad is cool. Instead I want my music to simply make people notice how cool God is.

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