Worshiping and Leading While Squinting in a Fog

1 Corinthians 13:12-13 MSG: We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

I had all but finished my weekly blog post by Friday this past week. I planned to re-read and put my final touches on it on Monday the 16th, but felt compelled to push it back a week at the direction of the Holy Spirit.  Saturday morning, my dear friend, choir member, care group leader, deacon, Sunday School teacher, passed away suddenly from a heart attack. Suddenly, that all too familiar sadness my own life has experienced rushes in…my own mother passed away suddenly of a heart attack in 2013. The shock, dismay– almost unbelief was overwhelming.  Here’s a guy and his precious wife who chose to adopt and raise their grandchildren who, up until they intervened, were in a horrific, unimaginable situation. These girls, whom I’ve known and taught piano lessons for five years, already have fragile spirits. They’ve made great strides emotionally and now have to deal with the grief of losing a parent. You know, it’s easy to be overwhelmed and sad in these situations; I definitely was. When Deanna and I got to their house Saturday morning, the Holy Spirit said to me…remember that you can’t see the big picture. Your earthly perspective is dim. Just remind the family of My promises. And so we did. A group of us were there with my pastor and me and we just prayed and comforted and extended love through tangible arms and tears. It was beautiful; the body of Christ weeping with those who mourn.

I remember the first year I was here, we were learning a choral hymn arrangement of “Give Me Jesus” and I asked my friend to sing a solo at the beginning of the song in his rich baritone voice.  I was reminded today that his prayers have been answered he will no longer have to yearn for the day when he will see Jesus face to face. He is in the presence of Christ:

In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus

When I am alone
When I am alone
When I am alone, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus

When I come to die
When I come to die
When I come to die, give me Jesus

Sunday morning worship was hard too, yet it was also one of the most gratifying and joyful times of worship I’ve led in quite some time. When someone so invested in your community of faith dies suddenly, I wasn’t sure what the tenor of the services would look like. I think the vulnerability and shock allowed the walls of our hearts to break down and worship became our natural response. We celebrated, we worshiped in Spirit and in Truth, we cried, and we prayed earnestly for one another. Not only for the Conn family, but others also. In fact during our altar call, a large group from a Sunday School class came down to lay hands and pray for one in their class who just found out that have lung cancer. Ya’ll, this life is fleeting…it is short, we have so much to do and today we were reminded that the gospel commands us to share that news with those around us.

The Lord was not surprised by our dear friend’s death or the diagnosis of cancer, or the myriad of other things folks in our fellowship are dealing with.  But, GOD knows and He hears the cries of His people turning to Him in their greatest time of need! He also knew when planning for musical worship today what we as the body needed to hear and confess with our lips. In our worship we sang words of affirmation such as: trust and never doubt, I will give thanks for bringing me out of danger toils and snares, Here’s my heart–take and seal it for Thy courts above, Our God saves, there is HOPE in Your name, MOURNING turns to songs of praise, Amazing grace, My chains are gone.  The list goes on….affirmation after affirmation of grace extended to us—freely offered if we will receive. And once we’ve received, He will NEVER leave us. We can trust and never doubt for He has never failed us!

So, if you find yourself having to lead a worship service where you feel utterly helpless, and an emotional basket-case, remember that God sees the big picture. It’s okay to be emotional, real, raw, and authentic. The presence of the Lord will do wonderful, powerful things in and through you when you feel like your strength is gone. And just think, we’re only experiencing a taste of what awaits us. We are squinting to get just a glimpse of Him, but one day will see Him clearly. For now, we must yield to the Holy Spirit, so He can do His deep work in us and in the hearts of His people.

 

 

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