Leading worship…an adventure in spontaneity

Yesterday was our typical Sunday morning. No matter how early I think I will get up Sunday morning in order to get us all out the door on time for church, something always happens to make us either late or rushed. Yesterday I though we had it licked. Everyone was dressed, all heads of hair were almost brushed, and I had even been able to gulp down a left-over muffin. We were almost ready to hit the door when the phone rang. It was our friend John who is also an elder in our church. “Ben and his family are still in Roswell. I can’t reach Randy.  There’s noone to do music. Do you think your girls can pull something together?”   “Sure!” I replied, hoping my girls would be as enthusiastic.

Mind you, we had exactly 34 minutes until church was to start, and we still had to drive there! I called the girls to the kitchen, briefly explained the situation and asked them to come up with something–anything. My girls are usually pretty perfectionistic when it comes to sharing their music with others.  Understandable, but not a realistic expectation for yesterday morning.

We got the little people all buckled in, our 13 year old grabbed her guitar and her music folder, the 15 year old grabbed the hymnal, and we all left for church. On the way there, they picked the three songs we would do at the beginning of service. My 16 year old thought she could play one of the hymns after the offering, and she had a a song that was suitable to play for offertory itself. The 15 year old had previously been asked to do the prelude, so she was prepared for that.  We arrived at church with a plan.

We were just  on time–but we still had to set up. The guitar needed to be tuned, copies of music needed to be retrieved since we did not have it ready for the power point, and we needed to make sure we communicated the song list to John. And to make things just a little more interesting, we had visitors in church. It was the definition of a high-pressure moment. I was praying fervently as we sat down and our 15 year old began playing the prelude.

I knew my girls were not prepared to lead worship–not only had they never done it solo before,  they had not even practiced! Randy, our youth leader was there, and he went down to help coach the girls, but he let them lead on their own. He didn’t even have his guitar, so there would be no back-up.  Our 13 year old was on guitar while her 15 year old sister was helping to sing. It was far from perfect. But it was so sweet. The Lord was there in a mighty way. As we sang, it sounded like a much larger choir than the 36 souls that were present.

Randy took over guitar for the third song–a hymn–but my girls stayed up there to help lead singing. After the offering was taken and our 16 year old had played the offertory and we had sung the doxology, she began playing the hymn on the piano. She did a great job for never having played it before! It was a little slow, but again, the voices of our small congregation were huge. It was like being a part of a heavenly choir.  She stopped playing for the fourth verse and let our a cappella voices carry the last lines.

My children felt completely unprepared for their first venture as worship leaders. They did an amazing job; it wasn’t polished or perfect or even practiced, but it was from the heart. I know the Lord was pleased with their humble efforts to help lead His people in musical worship. At dinner last night we talked about it. I told them how proud I was of them for stepping up to the plate and doing their best. All three gave all kinds of criticisms of their efforts–one even categorized her piano playing as “an epic fail”.  I looked  at her and asked how she could think that. I told them that the point of worship is to give God the glory–and that they did do. It mattered not that they were unprepared or unpracticed. They were surprised by the call yesterday morning, but the Lord was not. He knew and had it ordained for them to do. They obeyed.

These experiences–the ones that stretch us and cause us to rely on a strength not our own–help build character. It was an exercise in living beyond themselves. It was the perfect example of God being made manifest  in weakness.  I know that my girls, had they tried to do what they did yesterday on their own efforts or relying upon their own strength, would not have done the beautiful job they did. I am so proud of them, and I am grateful that they had the opportunity to grow yesterday.  I saw a glimpse of the future as my girls led music–a glimpse of young women living for the Lord, glorifying Him in all they do, shining as beautiful examples of grace and love. I was overwhelmed.

The truth is that Jesus Christ has done–and is doing–a work in my children. While it is tempting as a parent to think their beauty is a result of our success, He gets the real credit for how beautiful they are on the inside.  We get the blessing of teaching and training and planting the seeds and cultivating  their talents, but He gets all the credit for giving them the talent in the first place,  for how those seeds have grown and for the fruit that they bear.  Therein lies real beauty in life and worship.  It is all about Jesus.

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