You know how it happens, you ask a question, you have a brief conversation and before you know it, you’ve volunteered to do something completely out of your comfort zone. Well that’s what happened the 2nd Saturday in January when I was helping out at the Solomon’s Porch homeless ministry. There were a couple of really cool songs they played over the PA that I wanted to know the names of so I could learn them for my own entertainment. Somehow that conversation led to me volunteering to lead worship at some point in the future. Now I could be all coy and pretend that this outcome was a complete surprise to me, but if I’m honest I knew that the conversation I was having was going to end this way. Sometimes as a believer you just know things are going to happen in a certain way, usually because God has told you. Fortunately the idea of doing this had been in my mind and on my heart for a while, probably a year or so. God’s timing was just right though and so in the healthiest period of my life came the time to do something completely out of my comfort zone.
Previously when I had considered being involved in worship music with an audience, the idea was only ever to be playing guitar. I’ve said previously on here that one of my great regrets was never having played in a band publically. However, in that I have no great desire for a 2nd job (try finding a good band that doesn’t want to turn it into that), or to spend my weekends in bars anymore, I figured that worship might be the best / only way that I’ll ever get to scratch that itch. So my idea was, one day I’ll grab onto my Stratocaster and play in a band while someone else sings, hopefully get the chance to play a bluesy solo or something. That was my idea, nothing grand or anything, but that was it. However it seems that my idea was not THE idea, not God’s plan.
One of the great things about publically sharing my attempts at learning to record music is that it has helped me, somewhat, with my alarming lack of confidence with my singing voice. As I’ve started to sing more, I’ve started to find my voice, that might sound strange but previously I always found myself doing an impersonation of someone else when I sing. When I sing today, unless I’m doing it on purpose, I sing with my voice, using my voice more has opened up my range more too, it turns out I can actually sing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to quit my day job, but I can hold a tune which is kind of cool.
So on to THE plan J Saturday March 8th, the day I made my debut as a worship leader, just me and an acoustic guitar. Not so sure I’m comfortable calling myself that, but that is what I did that morning. It was a strange experience leading up to this moment. This is something that has been in my heart, something I have talked to God about, something that I know He wanted me to do, I knew that in my heart and in my head. However despite knowing that God does not give us a spirit of fear, I have had a heck of a time sleeping this week, nervous, anxious, excited, a mix of all of them. Friday morning struck with the whole “what am I even hoping to accomplish with this” attack from the enemy. Which while discouraging, what really a valid question, why was I going to do this? The voice within, the counsellor spoke to me and it all made sense. For all that God has done for me in my life over the last 10 years, what more fitting of a sacrifice could I offer to Him, to show that I truly trust Him, than to publically sacrifice my fears. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear in general. This was not about me, this was about telling my Father that I truly trust Him. In the process, hopefully I could give some people an enjoyable time with some live worship music and help to set the atmosphere of worship to help people allow God to do the work on He can in their hearts.
We got to Solomon’s Porch at around 0830, the first thing that struck me was the amount of volunteers there. God bless spring break, all told there had to be over 70 people there to help, I’ve been there when there were maybe 25 or 20, it was amazing to see so many people wanting to love those less fortunate than them. There was a youth group from a church in Texarkana there whose pastor and their worship leader spoke some wonderfully encouraging words to me and prayed with for me before I went out to play. It never ceases to amaze me how God will place just the right people in your life at just the right time, these wonderfully genuine, new friends were just what I needed at that moment.
And then, it was time. There was no turning back, no running away, I had to trust God and go do what He had called me to do. The truth is I was shaking a little at first, my voice was a little quite at first & thank God for not only His amazing grace, but the wonderfully familiar song amazing grace. I opened with that song for no other reason that it is so comfortable to play and sing.
Funny thing with the set list, when I first agreed to do this, the thought was to play 3 or 4 songs right before the sermon. Usually they have breakfast and then the clothes ministry, bible study follows that right before “church” then they wrap up with lunch. When I emailed to confirm this week I was asked if I wanted to play for about an extra 45 minutes prior to the bible study time as well as lead worship. It’s a good thing I had been playing more than the 4 songs I had on my heart for the “worship” time. So in a mass panic of extra practice this last week I showed up ready to play up to 13 songs, some more polished than other but pretty confident in all of them.
When I got there and saw the army of volunteers, I also discovered there were some folks there who were also ready to sing. Their loving respect for the work I had put in was awesome, so we decided that I would play the time prior to the bible study and one song during “church” time before handing it over to their team who would be giving most of the service anyway. (I put church in “” as in truth, the whole time is church. It is a gathering of God’s people doing God’s work, it is Jesus in action, it doesn’t get more church than that, but to specifically point out the Mercy Seat Church part of the ministry, I figured that would work).
So I started to sing and play & you know what? I wasn’t terrible, I got over my nerves and by the end of it I had really enjoyed myself. There were moments when I was just lost in the music, playing for an audience of one & I think it showed. Some of my friends who were there to serve didn’t know I was going to be signing (I had kept it quiet, not wanting to make a big deal out of it, silly really), they all had wonderfully nice things to say to me afterwards, in fact everyone did, it was just really nice. I’m still not about to quit my day job 😉 but I will be singing the praises of the living God in south central Dallas on the second Saturday of the month for the foreseeable future. And so the journey continues, my wonderful walk with my redeeming Father. Thank you Jesus, thank you for it all.
Apparently this is my worship face 🙂
These are the songs I played.
Amazing Grace, my chains are gone
You Never Let go
This is Amazing Grace
My Redeemer Lives
Christ is Risen
How He Loves Us