A number of years ago, a worship team with whom I was rehearsing seemed to hit a mental roadblock. And while I thought I was being extremely clear in expressing what I wanted to happen in a particular section of a song, this group of skilled musicians just could not get it.
Each time we missed the mark on what I had musically intended, I would stop, pause, and calmly re-explain what I was looking for. Then we would begin that section again.
After the fifth attempt yielding the same result, my internal frustration of "What am I doing wrong?" mounted. It felt like an endless cycle of rooting through my worship leader/choir director toolbox, pulling out a rehearsal technique thinking, "Ah, this is it. This will work," then implementing it to no avail.
After the seventh unsuccessful attempt, I sighed deeply and slowly stood up from the keyboard. And just as I inhaled to convene a rare worship team "Come to Jesus" meeting, the Holy Spirit spoke to me. "Drop it."
It wasn't a sweet, sugary, whisper. It wasn't a gentle tap on the shoulder. And it wasn't a little elbow to the side nudge. It was a firm yet warm, strong yet controlled, authoritative yet parental, undeniable directive.
Perhaps I was too tired to argue with God or to "press through" the rehearsal, but like a puppy that obediently releases a tennis ball from its clenched jaw, I dropped it. I dropped my frustration, my disappointment, and my self-imposed mantle of "it has to be this way." I dropped my misdirected focus on "product" rather than "process." And I dropped my willingness to sacrifice tender relationship with my team members for tyrannical accuracy.
At that moment, an overwhelming sense of love and gratitude flooded my heart. Peace and tranquility quieted me. So much so that I was authentically able to bless the team and release them for an extended break with no residue of resentment, annoyance, or irritation. It was a genuine, supernatural release of the nature of Christ that displaced the nature of the old man that I was resurrecting.
Once the team cleared the platform, I sat back down at the keyboard, exhaled, and shook my head. "Thank You, Jesus" was all I could say. "I am so grateful to You." My mind was brimming with appreciation for each team member, for their hearts of authentic worship, for their amazing giftedness, for their humility, and for their joyful willingness to make the myriad of sacrifices it took to be a part of that team.
I spent a lot of that break in prayerful reflection and in humble confession - a bit unsure of why I had made such an idol of singing that section in that particular way. I also grieved the fact that I internally demonstrated the antithesis of all that I have taught worship leaders over the years.
And here was the biggest facepalm. This one who likes to remind those lacking eternal perspective, "Jesus will still come back," was oblivious to the fact that "Jesus will still come back." SMH.
As I silently sat in that cavernous convention hall, I experienced what Paul describes in Romans 8:26-27. "The moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans" [MSG]. The Paraclete joined me on the piano bench and began forming a prayer by bringing to remembrance the lyrics to a long-forgotten song. "I will lay down my idols, thrones I have made, all that has taken my heart. Lord, I will bow to You, to no other god, but You alone." Tears flowed freely as I exchanged my expectations for the team for His.
I can testify with great joy that a few days later, God eclipsed my ill-fated, manufactured musical "moment" with His transcendent glory as the conference attendees whole-heartedly worshiped in song. You see, what I thought was so important, really wasn't. In retrospect, perhaps that musically "cool" innovation during the song may have actually been just that. A pithy manipulation. Had I pressed for my way, I am afraid the team's ministry would have dissolved into an Ezekiel 33:32 experience: "To them you are like a singer of love songs with a lovely voice and skilled technique. They listen to your words, but no one does them."
Perhaps as you are reading this, you resonate with a fruitless attempt to make something happen. Maybe you are even on the verge of hosting your own "Come to Jesus" meeting filled with frustration-fueled, unfiltered words you might later regret. May I pass on to you what the Lord spoke to me?
While, indeed, there are times we are to press through, to persevere, and to valiantly fight to the end of a thing [and surely as I type this, for some of you, that is definitely what you need to do], there are other times where we are invited to simply "Drop it." And that, my friend, may be you today.
If you are sensing that this, indeed, is one of those "other" times, perhaps it is time to let go of your frustration and your disappointment. Are you weary from a self-imposed mantle of "it has to be this way"? Maybe it's time to stop focusing on perfecting a "product" and to embrace a relationally-nurturing "process." Perhaps your tyrannical crusade to be accurate is undermining the health and wholeness of relationships entrusted to your care. I am telling you, Jesus will still come back.
Selah and take a moment to listen to this Bob Fitts song in its entirety. Let the lyrics become your prayer as you confess, "Lord, I Will Bow to You."
And as you "Drop it," "...may the God of peace [the source of serenity and spiritual well-being] who brought us up from the dead... equip you with every good thing to carry out His will and strengthen you [making you complete and perfect as you ought to be], accomplishing in us that which is pleasing in His sight..." [Hebrews 13:20-21 AMP]. And may God's transcendent glory eclipse your wildest dreams for that which He's placed on your heart.
"All glory to Jesus forever and always! Oh, yes, yes, yes" [v 21 MSG]. Amen.
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