Saturday, June 27, 2015

Saturday Night

Saturday nights have been hard nights for me for a long time - especially when I'm leading worship the next morning...tonight is no exception.

It's not like anything horrible happens, per se. It's just a general uneasiness, a sinking of the spirit - something that makes it easier to believe the lies that are constantly being whispered to my heart. On Saturday nights, I feel like hope has gone out of my world and that it's no wonder, considering who I am and what I've done and left undone. That I'm so utterly unworthy to be up in front of people, declaring what I believe, when I've been such a big fat failure at living it out.

I'm sure this is probably true for most people in ministry leadership, to some extent. Since Sunday's our big day, the enemy works extra hard the night before to render us useless, ineffective. And you know what really adds insult to injury? I often let him - I give in to those feelings, I allow the lies to have their say, I let the doubts fester and grow; which produces more guilt, adding even more fuel to the fire...you get the picture.

I was lying on my bed tonight, having just tucked in my boys, waiting for them to fall asleep (and to be nearby for the inevitable "Mom, can I have a drink?" "Mom, I'm hot!" "Mom, I'm not tired." "Mom, how far away is Heaven?" etc...) when the worry goblins started their weekly attack. Bombarded by memories, I started to reinterpret various moments in my past, assuming the worst in each situation and feeling my self-worth plummet (rotten sensation, but a great word...).

After a few minutes, I realized what I was doing. My first instinct was to get some positive feedback to boost my spirits a little, so I posted a couple of lines on facebook, hoping that some encouragement would come from somewhere. But then I realized that that wasn't the answer, either. I eventually wised up and went to the Source. And He reminded me of who I am and who He is - in His kind, gentle, tender, loving way...

So I wanted to document it. My battle, my defeat, His victory. So that when it happens next Saturday night, I'll be ready.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Worship?

I've been a worship leader for a long, long time - I was eleven or twelve when I took my first steps along the path that has led me to where I am today. It remains one of my favourite things to do. I like the not-so-recently coined term "lead worshiper" - it really embodies what I hope my leading looks like. I love to worship, and as a lead worshiper, I simply invite others along for the ride! Leading others in worship is an act that never fails to fill my heart with joy.

Back in my people-pleasing days, I tried really hard to present a perfect face to the world - a face that was entirely false and fake and put-on; a feeble attempt to deny my pain and depression and doubts and fears and griefs. This habit couldn't help but colour my worship leading - it was happy, happy, happy; praise, praise, praise; God is good, good, good... And while this is certainly an integral part of worship, in refusing to bring my own reality before God, I was denying the people I was leading the opportunity to express their own questions and anxieties, as well.

But all that's changing now. In my journey to uncover and discover (the) real joy, honesty with myself - and therefore with God - has become a top priority. And honestly? I'm a mess. A big, broken, beautiful mess! The real challenge and battle has been learning to love that big, broken, beautiful mess... As I progress along this journey, I've been incorporating the lessons I'm learning into my worship leading. I think the most amazing, most significant, most freeing discovery I've made is that God really, truly, honestly, actually loves and accepts and invites me to come to Him just as I am. With all my baggage, all my qualms, all my wonderings, all my worries - just as I am.

And it's showing up in my song-writing. The more I look and listen, the more dissatisfied I'm becoming with what's currently "in" in worship music. It's still mostly happy, happy, joy, joy. As I mentioned before, there's definitely a place for that - a big place. God deserves all the worship and praise and adoration and glory we can give, and much, much more. And while worship is absolutely about God, we can't help but bring an element of humanity to the equation - it is a relationship, after all. So I'm finding that more and more of my songs (we're up to 20 now!) are "worship" songs that are heavy on coming before God just as we are, bringing to Him all of our burdens and declaring that He is Lord and He is sovereign and He is in control and He is more than enough. (And sometimes acknowledging that we hope all that's true, but we're not always entirely sure.)

Funny thing, though - try as I may (and have), I am unable to write a whole song without any hope in it at all. I've trekked through some pretty rough terrain over the past few weeks, and many of my songs reflect that. But through it all, I've experienced new heights and depths of God's faithfulness and peace and grace. He is good.

(So I guess this is a thing now - since I can't share the finished product yet, I hope this builds your interest without being too annoying... It's just such a delight to me, I have to share it with you!)

Just As I Am
(by Joy Feltmate)

I come to you, Father
Heart battered and sore
Head bowed low, heavy with shame
You spread Your arms wide
You lift my head high
Never again will I be the same

Just as I am, oh just as I am
You love me, accept me, forgive me, redeem me
Just as I am, oh just as I am
I come just as I am

You've taken my sins and You've cast them away
From sorrow to singing, my joy is complete
You make me worthy
You clothe me in grace
As Your child I come and sit here at Your feet

It's because of Your mercy I'm here at Your throne
No longer in chains, hallelujah I'm free!
You've invited me in
You've washed my heart clean
I am Yours, Lord - please take all of me

"Just as I am without one plea
But that Thy blood was shed for me
And that Thou bidd'st me come to Thee
Oh Lamb of God I come, I come"

Just as I am, oh just as I am
You love me, accept me, forgive me, redeem me
Just as I am, oh just as I am
I come just as I am




Sunday, June 14, 2015

Just As I Am

Sunday morning used to be my favourite time of the week. I still enjoy it, but it's not what it used to be (by my own choice) and this transition/adjustment time is proving harder to swallow than I had hoped. However, we keep calm (for the most part) and carry on...

We got to church this morning with a few minutes to spare, so I was able to deliver my boys to their Sunday School classes and find a place in the back corner of the balcony before the service started. My choice of seat was indicative of the condition of my heart as I approached worship. I was tremendously looking forward to witnessing the baptisms of two dear friends, but except for that joyous event, my heart was not really there. Then the worship team came on stage and began to play. Just a few moments in, it became brilliantly clear that I was exactly where I needed to be.

"Come, Now is the Time to Worship" was the first song in the worship line-up - an oldie but a goodie. I've probably sung that particular song a hundred times - maybe more - but today, the third line hit me good and hard, as if I'd never heard it before. The lyric is "come, just as you are, to worship". As I sang those familiar words, I was immediately and simultaneously aware of both the sad, sinful state of my heart and of God's beautiful, redeeming presence as I brought my feeble, half-hearted sacrifice of praise. A holy chill tingled through me, and I knew that God was right there, proving by His presence in that moment that yes, He actually does accept me, love me - just as I am. I went on to experience a wonderful time of worship, my heart filling and overflowing with gratitude and joy in His goodness and grace.

When I started writing this post, I wasn't planning on sharing another song. But there's one that fits here so well, I can't resist. Makes sense, I guess - all these songs are a reflection of where my heart is and what God is doing in my life right now. I'm so thankful for and amazed by His unconditional, unending, unchanging, unfathomable love!

FATHER
(by Joy Feltmate)

You Father me so tenderly
So gentle, precious, pure
Your love knows no end
My Saviour, my Friend
Your kindness and grace will endure

So beautiful, Your father heart
Such love I've never known
Accepted freely from the start
In Your arms I'm home

Your love so sweet, Your voice so soft
You guide me with Your peace
Your presence I know
You won't let me go
Your passion and care never cease

Your love is high and deep and wide
You call me deeper still
I'm satisfied
Here at Your side
I don't have a need You won't fill

So beautiful, Your father heart
Such love I've never known
Accepted freely from the start
In Your arms I'm home