I did not want to go to church today.
Have I started a post like that before? It's been awhile since I even wrote a Sunday Service Snippet....
I felt unworthy. I felt frustrated. I felt unloved. And struggling with all of those feelings, I didn't feel able to help lead worship. (It's much easier to NOT show up for church when you're not accountable to a ministry.....but today I was)
The facts were these, I was afraid. Afraid to represent someone I'm not. Afraid to come across as having it together when I don't.
It's so funny to me to be called to such a public ministry...where expectations are high, because you are 'seen'....you are expected to be friendly, and loving, outgoing and humble, pious and prayful....and rarely am I ANY of those things at the same time. And don't think I'm making this stuff up....I've had those things laid before me from one person or another over the year. Yes, I remember your words so distinctly....."You think you're perfect," "You don't really like to reach out do you?" "You are not genuine," "Your voice isn't that great." Etc. The 'voices' may have been human, but the effort was much to damaging to put on a person.
It's easy to point the finger at those who stand on stages. That light shines on both the good and the bad...so in general you try to hide the bad and make the good show first.
But today I felt ugly. Not in appearance, for those things are easy to spitshine....
but in form and substance. I wanted the congregation, to see me as I am; broken down, confused, hurt by words, jaded and mislead, on the verge of becoming a hermit. I didn't want the shoeshined version of me, if we can't be real then why show up? But how do you do that? I'm still human, and trust is hard to come by.
Then my hubby prayed over me.....I dutifully closed my eyes and carried on with our routine. still afraid of perceptions, but willing to be used.
Then I saw their faces, the faces of those whom I'm called to serve beside. Some of them I KNEW had uglies going on as well. Others hide their's behind smiles. Irregardless, we stood on that stage to use the various talents we have been given.
And the congregation sang. I could picture God showing up for each and every one of them....standing before us to be honored. Yes, we were ugly, but He saw through a veil of crimson, and we stood forgiven, and blameless. If He can forgive me of so much, then I can let go of the words that have marred my heart. I can look past the cynicism and trust again.
Pastor John taught from Matthew 8:23-26....focusing on the disciples in the midst of a huge storm. He made a great point. Sometimes those storms are caused on our own. Other times it is purely natural for those waves to rise. But either way, how do we respond?
With fear? Or with expectation? Jesus was asleep...staying out of it....possibly to see how the disciples would react. They panicked. Instead of just asking for help they commanded...."Lord, save us! We're going to drown!"
Which doesn't sound bad.....but Jesus said, "O you of Little Faith...Why are you so afraid?"
He rebuked them for Their FEAR. He KNOWS the ugliness we live with....He know the hurt that has been done to each of us. But He still expects us to turn to Him first. He will call us out for not resting in the knowledge that WE walk with the Creator of the universe.
The disciples had not acknowledged the possibility that this was in God's plan. They assumed the worst and gave up hope.
It's funny, as I type this I'm thinking about all of the others who lead ministry...and how often they may feel the same way I did today. I think discouragement is one of the enemy's greatest tools. It's not that I did anything amazing today. But I would have missed hearing God's truth. I would have missed the miracle that is pure worship. Unfettered by our plans, modulations, song order, etc. Today was as it should be.
I served not out of my own understanding. And God delivered as only He can, with purity of Spirit, and with more rewards than I could imagine.
I promise not to hole up in a ball and become a hermit. I will not let the words of other paralyze me into ineffectiveness. If God has a work to be done, and He can use me, then so be it.
I am grateful.....knowing that I showed up broken, sad, lonely, and confused, and God multiplied my reasons for rejoicing! I am loved. So are you by the way...
For our Savior had written in 1 John 4:18: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
And it was also said, "The only thing we have to fear, is Fear Itself."