Monday, June 02, 2008

HE BLEW ME AWAY
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Wow. What a Sunday.
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Many of you read my blog post requesting prayer concerning the solo I was singing yesterday. Some of you have commented or emailed asking how it went.
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Here's the blow-by-blow.
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I practiced some on Saturday night and got a bit of practicing in on Sunday a.m., but by the time we left for church, I definitely did NOT feel prepared. I was starting to stress and throw M&Ms in my mouth by the handful...and I'm someone who almost ALWAYS eats them one at a time very slowly. But I was needing copious amounts of chocolate in a BAD way!
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We get there early so I can sing through it once using the sound system before church starts and I can't even sing the first note. As soon as I had stepped on the stage, my throat immediately filled up with sinus drainage and felt plugged! Up til that moment my voice and sinuses had been PERFECT! So I stumble through the song and whine and complain to all the women I meet on the way to the church kitchen about hormones and brain cells dying and how much more difficult it is to sing solos now that I'm middle-aged .
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I get to the kitchen to make a cup of hot tea to try to get the gunk out of my throat and all the tea bags are gone and I lose it. I start crying...boo-hooing BIG time!
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Did I mention I was hormonal?
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So I'm crying and my husband Jim is asking me if I just need to let the lady in charge of special music coordination know that I can't sing but then that makes me feel like a wimp. After all, shouldn't I trust God enough to get me through this? Aren't I supposed to be singing to worship him and minister to others? And should I let something like a clogged throat, raging hormones, and not knowing the song very well stop me from singing?!?!?
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Jim asked me if maybe my pride wouldn't let me just admit I wasn't up to it? I told him I didn't know. Maybe it was part pride, but it felt more like if I didn't do it I was just really being a wimpy, non-trusting Christian. And how could I expect God to trust me with big challenges if I couldn't even trust Him with something as simple as a solo at my church? After all, did I have to be perfect? Did it have to be professional quality? Couldn't I offer Him up an imperfect song and trust Him to use it? Maybe people needed to see me mess up royally to give themselves permission to be brave and do beautiful things for God even if they did them imperfectly?
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Well, Miss Louise came to the kitchen and prayed briefly for me and told me that whatever I decided was fine with her. She'd come up with a backup plan. I told her that I was going to go to a back room and go through it a couple of times and talk to God about it and let her know.
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So on my way to the back room, I meet another woman. I told her what was going on. It was obvious something was wrong as I was pretty distraught. Well, right then and there she started praying for me. She prayed for my sinuses, she prayed for my hormones, she prayed for peace, she prayed for God to use me. She prayed on and on and on. And it was strong and faith-filled prayer. And part of me was so grateful. And the very fleshly, foolish side of me was thinking..."hurry up! I gotta go practice. I don't have time for all this praying". And then the side of me that was listening to God's spirit would say "you are awful! The very thing you need IS prayer!"
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After about 10 minutes or so of prayer, she finished and I went back to the Sunday School room and started going over the song. I did start calming down and the song was going okay but I felt very strongly in my spirit that even if I got up there and could barely sing and messed up all over the place, that I was supposed to do it anyway. I was supposed to trust God with whatever the results. Jim came back there and I sent him to tell Miss Louise that I'd sing.
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And sing I did!
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But first, I shared with the congregation a quick synopsis of what had gone on. I told them that I had just about decided that I was going to tell Miss Louise that I wasn't going to sing any more solos. They were just too hard. My voice was no longer good enough, my brain couldn't learn the words and notes, and I didn't have time as a busy mom of seven to prepare. But then I shared with them what God reminded me....that its not about our perfection or goodness, its about Him. He knows we'll mess up but He wants to use us anyway. I even shared a summary of the Scotty Smith quote I've posted here at my blog about how God using us humans in His plan for the world is like the hobbits being given primary roles in the epic adventure of Tolkien's Middle Earth. It seems crazy. But He loves us and He chooses to use us despite our failings.
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Y'all, I gotta tell you, it was incredible. I started singing and the sinus drainage was gone. My emotions and hormones evened out. My voice quality was superb. I had to really concentrate but it all went so smoothly that I didn't even realize that I'd sung a large chunk of the song til I was almost to the end. I can't say that I actually enjoyed it because the whole thing felt like a monumental effort of trusting God despite how scared I was. But I did it! I got to the end and not only did I not mess up royally, but it actually was good!
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In fact, when I finished singing, our pastor said "well I'm not a musician, but that's the best job I've ever heard you do". After the service, friends and the family also confirmed that it was one of my best solo efforts.
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Let me say it loud and clear, it was God! There was no way I sang that song and to that degree of quality on my merits yesterday. Between hormones, sinus drainage (which I'm convinced was a trick of the nasty one, himself), fear, & lack of serious practice time, that song should have been a very flawed performance.
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Now hear me when I say this. God could definitely have used a messed up performance. He could have used it to help others feel more confident that its okay to mess up. He could have used it to humble my pride. He could have used it for whatever purpose He wanted. But this time that's not what was on His agenda.
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This time His plan was to let me learn to trust Him just a little bit more and be willing to die to self a whole lot more. To be willing to very likely mess up in public (which is hard for me since I'm both a people pleaser and someone who likes to sing well) is a huge step for me where singing is concerned. Its one thing when I goof up leading worship time with the kids back in children's church. But to willingly get up on a stage and have all these grown ups and teenagers staring at me and know that I'm very likely to completely blow it is a hard thing for me.
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But I decided to trust...and He was so sweet. This time it wasn't a lesson in humility (though crying outrageously in front of folks was pretty mortifying) that He wanted, this time it was a lesson in faith....trusting Him that where He leads, He'll take care of things. And no matter how it unfolds, if I'm doing what HE wants me to do, that's all that matters.
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As I grow older and the voice and brains get more limited and so singing is more of a challenge, I'm going to have to trust Him more and more. I can't just do it on my own as I did most of the time in the past. I'm seeing that I need Him more than I ever realized when I was young and cocky.
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I wish I'd learned this lesson a long time ago.
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But I thank God that He was patient with me and never gave up on me...though I so often am quick to give up on Him.
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I'm sorry, Lord. I love you. You are so good...all the time.
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And to you who prayed for my old rotten self, thank you very much.
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I'm more abundantly blessed than I ever could deserve.
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And that's the wonder and beauty of amazing grace.

4 comments:

Mary said...

Praising God with you, Elysa. Thank you for sharing your testimony.

Rhonda Jeanne said...

Awwwwwwe! smmmoooooch!

Coffee Bean said...

I'm going to be mulling that over in the back of my mind for some time. Very good food for thought.

Karen Deborah said...

awhhhh thanks for sharing the stretch. me too, same boat different paddle. lots of lessons about trusting these days.