Last night there was an event. This event was not inspired by man. This was straight from the Father's hand. He called it, God of This City. It was His design. It was a night of inter-church praise and prayer.
About a year and a half ago, God put this night into the heart of Heather. She talked to her pastor and the timing was not right. Fast forward a year or so to a new pastor with the same dream in his heart. This dream was to break down the differences between local churches and bring us together.
I did not know Heather. I had met her, but never interacted with her. I too have had a burn for praise and church interaction.
Fast forward yet again. My friend, Karl, has worked with Heather before. She asked him to lead one of the praise teams. He asked me if I would sing. In a heart beat! Even at our first practice, I could feel "something". This was going to be amazing. As things progressed so did the the level of "amazing". I don't mean we were amazing, while we are good at what we do, it wasn't us. It was the Lion, He was on the move. I could feel Him.
My life had a bunch of things that all came to a head this weekend. Paul's shop was relocating. I was starting a new job. We started a new worship team for church and it was our turn to pick all the songs and organize it. I had the contract to clean the shop Paul's business was moving into. My life was so busy. My kids were feeling the pinch. To top it all off, we got the flu. I was in survival mode. I would have been there anyway without the added experience I was given.
It was really weird. While there is a huge learning curve in my job, I have been remarkably at peace. I have been catching on to things rather quickly (I think, you'd have to ask my co-worker to be sure!) God totally gave me this job. If God be for me, who could be against me?
With Paul's shop moving, we were out almost every night cleaning. The kids were home sick for an entire week. I had no down time. I felt like I was barely hanging on. Thursday night we went to our Home Group. We love our group. We have amazing people that speak into our lives and the lives of our kids. I went only because I had missed two weeks and didn't want to miss another. While there, I was miserable. The discussion was not stimulating to me. I just wanted out. Finally it was over and Miriam asked if they could pray for me. They knew this Event was coming. So they prayed for me. I was under attack spiritually. I too had gotten the flu and was afraid of losing my voice.
This has been an issue with me for years. Every time I had an opportunity to expand and sing and share, I got sick. I was getting quite angry about this. I know that I am called to sing and praise my Father. I was crying out that He heal my voice for real. A singer without a voice just doesn't work.
Anyway, back to Home Group, they prayed for me and I felt a bit of a release. I left my voice in God's hands and tried not to worry. Fast forward to Saturday morning worship practice. I was in a very bad state. I can't even really describe it. Miserable, weighted, weary. This begins to describe it. I wasn't nervous or scared or worried about singing. That would come later, but isn't a bothersome thing. It's part and parcel for the job. At the end of practice, Cheryl came to help me out. I kinda broke down. Paul, our pastor Brian, and Cheryl prayed for me. Finally, whatever the heaviness was, it was gone. I was limp. I was drained. I was empty. My voice was on the brink of leaving.
People talk about scraping the bottom of the barrel. The bottom of the barrel I was scraping was so polished, there weren't even any splinters left. The good news was, there was no more of me in the way at all. The only way I would make it though that night was if God filled me up. That requires stepping out in Faith.
After sound check, I came home and took a nap. When I woke up, I was still empty. I wrote a note to some of my friends and my sister, people who I know would support me and pray. It's not like this Event wasn't already well prayed for. It was. For each praise team, there was a prayer team. I just needed that little bit extra.
So to the Event I go. Butterflies were kicking in. We were the last team scheduled. We did a practice run though and went down to pray. There were about 40+ people involved in make the Event happen. We went down to pray together to for the night. The incredible power just in that prayer alone was more than I'd been exposed to in a very long time.
As the last team up, I sat in the crowd. Before we started, Heather opened with "permission", if you will, to worship God as we saw fit. Freedom in the spirit. What a gift. At first I stood. I wasn't singing in an effort to save what voice power I had. Eventually I sat and let the the Almighty Waters wash over me. It was in at theater so it was dark and no one was looking. Tears streamed down my face. I made no effort to stop them. Freedom.
After one team was finished, I went out to the foyer. Tamara, a sweet, broken-hearted 13 year old I know and love, was sitting out there with her back to the doors. I went and hugged her. I asked her why she was sitting out there all by herself. She said, "Truthfully? I have never cried like that in a service before." I hugged her tighter and prayed, prayed words that could only have come from God. She hugged me even tighter. You've got to understand this girl. She has been betrayed by the one man on earth who is suppose to be a real life example of God to her. He has broken her heart. As protection, she has hardened her heart. Show no deep emotion, and no one will hurt me. She was out there trying to regain control. She clung to me. I brought her back in and told her to cry and let God heal her heart. I gave her to a good man who would not hurt her, Paul. He hugged her and was there.
Through all the WORSHIP I tried not to sing. I could still feel that weakness in my throat, threatening disaster. I still surrendered and worshiped, just not with the gift I have been given.
One of the groups sang, "I Exalt Thee". This song is one that has been simmering in the back of my heart for awhile. I let loose. I gave it everything I have. At that point, I decided that if I was to lose my voice, I would lose it praising my Father. Praise Him I did. With everything I had. Finally, I was being fill again. At some point after that, I realized that the scratch in my throat was gone. He came though. He did promise.
I have no idea how we did as far as how was the "performance" would have been rated. Good news. I really don't care. I know I have been nourished like I've not been nourished in a very, very long time. I know that I loved seeing Karl leading and doing what he's called to do. I loved working with others of the same mind and spirit. I love that there was freedom to worship as God himself gave us freedom. There were flag wavers, tambourine whacker, Indian dancers. Those aren't my cup of tea, but it was theirs. They were free too.
My children were there. This was a bit of a new experience for the younger ones since we don't attend a charismatic church. Michael has had more exposure. He understood what was going on. I watched my littles sit for 3 hours without complaining at all. Jamison sat in the front row. He was still. He sat with his head back on the chair and just absorbed. Jonathan just curled up on his chair. You've got to understand, these boys are boys. Sitting isn't something they do. Whether they understood or not, the power was still there and it moved them. Adriana could feel it. She absorbed it.
Michael sat with some friends and they were moved. Bethany, Tamara's sister, was sitting with him. Both were letting the tears flow freely. Until I screwed up. Then she laughed! But that's OK. This was not emotionalism. This was the Spirit of God moving, alive and powerful. Almost an entire row was taken up by youth from the church I attend. They were all fed. That makes me very excited. This is my son's peer group. God is moving IN them. If He is moving in them, He will move though them.
The effects of this night are eternal. After a performance, there is often an empty feeling that comes. All that work and now it's over. I was sort of expecting that last night. It never came. It was still there this morning during church. I could still sing. I fully expected to have laryngitis. I don't. I sang through two services and still could sing. It is nothing short of miraculous. I am so thankful. Words can't describe it.
You see, for months I have been praying that God would bring freedom of worship to me. I'm not sure if it's European reserve passed down though generations, classical training or just plain old fear that makes me like I am. I want to be free to worship effectively in public as well as private. I'm too concerned with how I appear. I don't want to care. I want to be free. Last night a good work was begun. I am becoming free. God heard my heart's cry and he answered. I am hungry for more. That was just a beginning.