Not too long ago, I came across a video clip of a vocal masterclass. If that term is new to you, a masterclass is an instructional experience for students led by an expert in their field of study. As a piano major in college, I was always fascinated by the unique group learning dynamic of an instructor publically working one-on-one with a student. Such was the case in this clip as a famous 70-year-old opera singer coaches a young tenor in front of the rest of the class.
Watching, I was captivated both by the master and by the pupil. Laser-focused and filled with palpable "kind insistence," the vocal coach's joyful intensity was matched only by his gracious patience. It seemed as if this vocal virtuoso knew the sound that the maturing singer was capable of producing and was determined to bring it forth.
The student was a sponge, soaking in everything. Absorbed in the learning, he intently fixed his eyes on the master. And each time he implemented the instruction, you could hear and see the transformation.
My favorite moment took place about seven minutes into the video. Exhaling deeply and then quickly wiping his eyes, the young singer seemed to briefly break character, overcome by just how surreal this once-in-a-lifetime experience truly was. Perhaps he was in awe of the master's extraordinary voice or moved by his exquisite musicianship, or maybe, just maybe, he caught a glimpse of the true potential of his own voice.
Continuing to watch the video, I sensed a nudge from the Holy Spirit. "Pay attention to the interaction between the two of them." And while no analogy is perfect, I sensed an invitation to consider my own relationship with The Master and to reflect on my receptivity when experiencing intimate MASTERclass moments with God.
Looking to Scripture as I reflected, I couldn't help but think about the interaction between God and Moses in Exodus 33. When Moses went into the tent of meeting, the cloud of God's presence would descend and remain at the entrance during their conversation. Talk about a MASTERclass! Verse 11 describes this intensely personal experience saying, "the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend" [NIV]. And while they probably were not rehearsing an operatic aria, I do imagine that the passion displayed in that video clip gives a glimpse of their interaction in that tent.
So Moses, this developing leader, vulnerably asks, "Show me now Your way, that I may know You." One translation specifies, "that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with You, perceiving and recognizing and understanding more strongly and clearly and that I may find favor in your sight" [Exodus 33:13 AMPC].
And God's response to that request? No scolding, no judging, and no shaming. Instead, not one, but two promises. "My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest" [Verse 14]. And as their dialogue continued, Moses's expressed desire for God's manifest presence along the journey is honored with lavish reassurance. "I will do this thing also that you have asked, for you have found favor, loving-kindness, and mercy in My sight and I know you personally and by name" [Verse 17]. Moses responded to the MASTERclass experiences in his life testifying, "He's the hope that holds me and the stronghold to shelter me, the only God for me, and my great confidence" [Psalm 91:2 TPT].
My mind then drifted to 2 Samuel 5 when King David intentionally sheltered in the stronghold. Discovering that the Philistines were plotting to attack Israel, "David inquired of the Lord, saying, "Shall I go up against the Philistines?" Again, in that MASTERclass intimacy, no yelling, no 'suck it up, buttercup', and no deep-sighed eye-rolls. Instead, blessed assurance. "Go up, for I will surely deliver [them] into your hand." Later, as David again faced this relentless enemy, God generously provided a strategic battle plan. "Do not directly face their forces. Circle around behind them, and array yourselves for battle in front of the balsam trees. When you hear the sound of a mighty army marching, reverberating in the tops of the balsam trees, come quickly and fight, for the Eternal has gone ahead of you into battle to destroy the army of the Philistines" [VOICE]. And David's response to his MASTERclass experiences? "You are my hiding place. You will keep me out of trouble and envelop me with songs that remind me I am free" [Psalm 32:7 VOICE].
Now while you may not be leading Israel out of Egypt or facing a vast army of Philistines, I am mindful that you may be in a place of chaotic transition, traumatic upheaval, or hopeless desperation as you read this. Beloved, know that God offers shelter, a MASTERclass, amidst the seeming insanity of what you are facing. And in that place, God stands with "kind insistence," with "joyful intensity," and with "gracious patience." Indeed, "There's a private place reserved for the devoted lovers of Yahweh, where they sit near him and receive the revelation-secrets of his promises" [Psalm 25:14 TPT].
But, there's something else. More than a crisis-driven, foxhole "visitational" relationship, what if God is inviting you to the intimacy of a moment-by-moment "habitational" relationship? A life-long MASTERclass, so to speak, where you learn to abide in God's "empowering presence that enables you to become all that He sees when He looks at you" [Graham Cooke]. In gracious insistence, God implores, "Never turn your gaze from me, for I am your faithful God. I will infuse you with my strength and help you in every situation. I will hold you firmly with my victorious right hand" [Isaiah 41:10 TPT].
You see, precious one, God loves loving you. And in steadfast, intentional loving-kindness He promises, "I will teach you an tell you the way to go and how to get there; I will give you good counsel, and I will watch over you" [Psalm 32:8 VOICE]. "I will stay close to you, instructing and guiding you along the pathway for your life. I will advise you along the way and lead you forth with my eyes as your guide." [Psalm 32:8 TPT].
And just as the singer in that video found his voice, so too will you as you abide, rest, and remain in the One "who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we could ask or imagine through the power at work in us" [Ephesians 3:20-21 VOICE].
And now, may your lifesong always sing "Hallelujah." Amen.
If you want to take a moment to freshly offer yourself to God in response, allow this song, And Now My Lifesong Sings, to be a springboard for your prayers.
To explore this topic further, I invite you to view this 11-minute video exhortation I shared a number of years ago at The Well of Nashville called, "An Invitation to a Deeper Place."
Lastly, if this blog has been meaningful to you, I invite you to do two things. Subscribe to the blog. You will be one of the first to receive a heads-up via email when a new entry is posted! Then, I invite you to share this blog with your sphere of friends. You never know how God might sustain the weary through a simple word of encouragement.
Okay, one more... if you are looking for more encouragement, I have a youtube channel of original songs, exhortations, and sermons from ministry over the years. Take a moment and check it out and feel free to subscribe!