October 27, 2010
Tonight I was blessed along with the New Dawg Band with the opportunity to lead worship at Gathering. As usual, I have spent every practice stressing about every little thing that goes wrong and being blinded by technical difficulties and wrong notes. I’m a perfectionist by nature and I’ve recently starting learning how that has kept me from offering excellence to God, but that’s another blog for another day. Basically, I had come to almost dread leading worship tonight as I overlooked the progress we had made and found myself consumed by everything that seemed wrong. It seems I was the one who was wrong. The set came together quite nicely at Gathering with no technical difficulties, no phasing and no major calamity. In fact, it was actually pretty great for such a last minute set.
As usual, it all fell into place right when it needed to. I don’t know why this continues to surprise me. Every musical I’ve ever performed in has felt like a train wreck on dress rehearsal night and been a show stopper on opening night. I was almost in tears minutes before my Senior Piano Recital last May after practicing all night every night for weeks with no avail and then almost cried in relief when the notes came together to do my 10 years of lessons justice as I finally performed. I could go on and talk about every dance competition or band performance that has come together just as we took the stage, but I would probably bore myself to sleep (it wouldn’t take much right now).
So here I am standing on stage crossing my fingers that the puzzle pieces once again fit together in time when I’m asked to open worship with prayer. I ask what to pray for, and don’t get an answer. Lights, camera, action….
Father, Thank You for bringing us here tonight. We are so blessed to be here worshipping You together. Please let us let go of whatever is troubling our minds and stealing our hearts’ attention right now and focus on You. Let us allow ourselves to be romanced by You and You alone in this moment and bask in Your love. We ask that You be glorified in our worship. Amen.
Fade In Music.
That was a hypocrite’s prayer if ever I’ve heard one. Did I want to mean every word I said? Of course. More than anything. But very rarely do I comply with what I know I need. Did I hear the words I was singing and send them as a prayer to God? Yes. They were my prayer in the desert. But I did not let God rain down and quench me in the dry places. Instead I held a tarp of distraction and worry and stress over the objects that grip my focus and cling to my heart, keeping God from filling them, just as I have been doing in my life.
My mind has been chasing so many rabbits the past few weeks that I can’t tell if I’m picking up eggs dropped by Peter Cottontail or if I’m trying to steal back Trix from that silly rabbit. I make a huge effort to make time for a quiet time out of my packed schedule and then waste half of those precious minutes checking my clock to make sure I’m not late for class or practice and calculating how much of my already scarce sleep it’s going to cost me that night. Even when I turn the clock away and put down the phone to focus on my time with God, every verse I read reminds me of something that’s been bothering me and the text becomes a selfish train of thought and my prayers become anthems of doubt and insecurity rather than praise and admiration of my Sovereign Savior. I can’t get my mind to stop racing even for a moment to just sit and be still in the presence of God, even when I’m literally sitting still seeking His presence. I realized just how scatterbrained I am becoming last night when I set out at 9:00 to walk to dance practice as I do twice a week and went left down Lumpkin instead of right but didn’t realize I was going the wrong way until Holly called and I looked up to see I was almost in Five Points rather than at the BCM.
While my mind is leading me on a wild goose chase, my heart is flailing on my sleeve like a leaf with a severed stem in the wind despite my daily reminders to myself of the need to guard it. While I used to keep an iron cage locked around it, I have somehow traded the cage for an outer garment, exposed and vulnerable. I can not entrust it in Father’s protection because I look to give it to everyone else instead and then ask God why people always disappoint me. I pick each piece up as it falls and and put it back in the cage where it belongs, but offer the key to anyone who asks nicely.
So here I am, praying to God the same prayer I’ve prayed every day, except this time into a microphone and here I am, depriving God of my full attention, even as I lead a whole room full of people in worship. If I can’t focus in the quiet or the noise, where can I? How do I quench my thirst for God when every time I drink, it is salt water from the world that leaves me parched? And how do I claim to know this to a room full of people without lying through my teeth?
I’m certain that God has the answers to the questions that riddle my brain..assurance for the doubts that falter my steps..peace for my searching soul..protection for my damsel heart..rest for my weary feet..plans for my restless dreams. I need only to lay myself at His feet and stop trying to solve all of my own problems. I can’t cast all my anxieties on Him until I’m truly willing to release the line.
I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Let go, my friends,
“This is my prayer in the desert
When all that’s within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my hunger and need
My God is a God who provides“