April 14, 2020

Be Real but Land Correctly

Music-smart people “think with rhythms and melodies” and gravitate toward understanding the world and expressing themselves through both. God has chosen to make me quite music-smart, and I’ve been able to utilize that throughout my life in many different ways.

One of the most meaningful Holy Week experiences I’ve ever had occurred several years ago my then-worship pastor asked me to be part of the Good Friday music team. In addition to leading the congregation in several meaningful songs, we opened the service with a special music piece in which eight singers stood in a semi-circle facing a large cross we’d secured onto the sanctuary’s platform. We sang the beautifully haunting piece a capella – without any instrumentation – in four-part harmony, endeavoring to listen as carefully as possible so we’d all stay in tune with each other and hit every note on-pitch. Our goal was to glorify the Lord, aiming to honor His sacrifice on the cross by drawing people into worship through our words and notes. Without accompaniment, the task was incredibly challenging, but God honored our desire by enabling us to “nail it,” as musicians say. As our last notes drifted away through the sanctuary, the congregation responded as we’d hoped they would – sitting in awed silence, not at our “performance” but at God’s amazing gift of salvation as expressed in the song. Many of us shed tears of joy as we smiled at each other across our little circle, and recalling the experience has made me emotional all over again.

It’s very important – in regards to any of our “smarts” – to avoid idolizing the strength itself or the things that support it. For example, I need to remember that the most important thing about worship music is the God it’s designed to glorify. Music draws me into worship, but I must guard against “worshipping” the music itself, whether I’m listening or performing. That, however, doesn’t negate the fact that limits on our ability to use our God-given “smarts” do hurt.

And that has been my experience since my church was forced by the COVID-19 situation to move to online services a few weeks before Easter. It’s natural for me – by God’s design – to be drawn to Him when believers join together in song. I know I can’t do anything about it right now, but I transparently admit that listening from my living room with just my family to the few musicians allowed to gather on Saturday mornings to record music for the streamed Sunday services just isn’t “real church” for me. It’s still my responsibility to worship, but the unfortunate limits placed on my music-smart strength right now challenge me emotionally. Holy Week didn’t “feel” like Holy Week because my God-given learning strengths couldn’t be fully expressed.

Perhaps you or your children have been experiencing similar feelings as the expression of your/their “smarts” has been altered in one way or another during this trying time. Don’t dismiss that; it’s important for our overall well-being to feel our feelings instead of “stuffing” them. So, if this past week didn’t “feel” like Holy Week to you, it’s okay to admit that. Just don’t get stuck there.

Just as God is far bigger than current events, He’s also big enough to handle our feelings. So, be real, but remember to ultimately land every day on what matters most of all: No matter what, Jesus IS risen (He is risen indeed!).

CK

Photo Credit: Jon Tyson

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