Monday, April 7, 2014

4000 Strangers Sang For Me...

The craziest thing happened this week.  Our church was hosting a huge leadership conference called Catalyst and I got to 'escape' from Life for a few hours and sneak into the conference.  I was so excited to go and refuel.  To recharge.  I walked in and immediately felt the electricity that happens when 4000 people cram into a room that seats 3500.  The conference had already started when I walked in.  The band was already playing and and I was thrilled to engage in one of my most favorite parts of the conference:  Worship.  Worshiping God at this conference is always an epic experience.  There is something beautiful about worshiping with 4000 other people who passionately love Jesus too.  With all that is going on in life right now, I had been looking forward to this moment.  And so I got to my seat, threw down my purse and jumped to my feet.  I started clapping my hands and singing along to the words on the screen.  The song declared that God saves.  I was in.  I was grateful for God's saving grace in my life.  The second song began.  It was upbeat too.  I was singing along.  Except all of a sudden the words on the screen said something like, "It's my joy to trust you."  Or maybe it was, "It's my joy to choose your will."  I had never heard the song before.  All I know is I was singing along, and all of a sudden I was stopped in my tracks.  I couldn't sing any more.  I physically could not.  My body just froze.  I stared at the words on the screen.  Then I stared at the 4000 people around me.  They were raising their hands, singing these words in an attitude of celebration.  They were clapping and almost dancing.  I know what they were feeling.  I know what they were doing.  Some were declaring it out of an overflowing of their hearts.  Others were claiming it as truth for their lives, even if they are in a tough life situation.  Both are beautiful expressions of worship.  I couldn't do either.  But the 4000 people?  They sang for me. They sang on my behalf. They didn't know it.  But they were my voice.  I sat down and wrote in my notebook: They sing for me.

When Jon and I went to lunch after that session, he said to a friend of ours, "Worship was a unique experience for me today.  I sang the words I could.  And when I couldn't sing, they sang for me."

Unbelievable.  Amazing that we had the exact same words for the exact same experience without even talking about it.

Friends, there are so many beautiful things about being in Community.  This week, I experienced a new one.  Are you able to sing?  Sing for those who cannot.  Are you able to celebrate?  Celebrate for those who just cannot muster up the strength.  Are able to pray bold prayers?  Pray for those who don't have the courage to pray it right now.

The next day, worship began again.  "God, remind me you are good," was one song lyric.  I couldn't sing the words.  But I wanted to.  Oh how I wanted to.  I need to be reminded of that right now.  I held out my hands in a posture of asking.  I wanted to sing.  I prayed those words in my heart.  But I couldn't utter them.  However, those around me did.  They sang for me.  They asked for me.

The song changed.  This was a song about Jesus sacrifice for us.  I sang.  I worshiped.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

The song changed again.  This song was about how worthy God is of our worship.  Bam.  I'm in.  He is worthy and I declare it with confidence!

Then the song changed a 3rd time.  "Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander..."  This song is a favorite of mine.  A bold prayer asking God to increase our faith and trust in Him.  To take us to places we wouldn't think we would survive.  Places we could not survive alone.  But to places where we are totally dependent upon Him and where He does immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine.

I remember the last time I sang this song.  I was leading worship up at Hume Lake and Jon was supposed to be playing guitar in the band, but instead he was vomiting in our room with a severe headache.  A headache that would lead us to the hospital Emergency Room and put him into surgery to remove a brain tumor.

I looked around this room of 4000 people, raising their hands singing, "Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.... Let me go wherever you would call me... Take me deeper..."  These people were singing these words - this bold prayer - like it was exciting.  Something to celebrate.  They wanted it.  They were singing this prayer and meaning it.  It rolled off their tongues so easily.  It's how I've sung it too.  I've been in deep waters with Jesus.  I've had my faith increased.  And God shows up and does the miraculous.  He shows up and blesses and provides and sustains.  And so I courageously sing the songs and pray the prayers again.  "Take me deeper!  Make my faith stronger!"  But this time?  Today?  All I wanted to do was run onto the stage and grab the mic and say, "Do you know what you're singing?  Do you know what you're praying?  You should sing this with your heart pounding and with your hands shaking."  I wasn't mad.  I just realized how beautiful this song sounded to me 6 months and 4 days ago.  And how beautiful it sounded to this room of 4000 people.  And now, after having God answer that prayer and taking me to a deeper level of faith and trust, I realize that this time around it's not just beautiful.  It's a beautiful mess.  It's scary.  And uncertain.  And it stretches you beyond yourself.  It is something we can have confidence will be for our good and will refine us.  But refining is painful.  And hard.  So I just stood there.  And listened.  And the people sang.  They sang for me.  They were courageous.  And excited.  And I stood there and cried.  I let the words wash over me.  I let the Truth penetrate my spirit.  

Friends, if you are feeling like you are so deep in the pit, that God's grace cannot find you, know that He is present and His grace knows no end.  And I will sing for you.

If you know how good God is and you trust Him with a reckless abandon, please sing for me.  And for Jon.

I remember my parents telling me that when I went into surgery at age 5, they sat in the waiting room in silence.  They said they had prayed with people in hospitals for years and years, but when it was their own child being rolled away, they could not even pray.  They had lumps in their throats and couldn't utter a word.  I remember hearing this story when I was younger and thinking, "Really?  You couldn't even pray for me?  I just don't get it."  I now realize the immaturity in my questioning.  Sometimes being so dependent on God is paralyzing.  Sometimes being dependent on Him doesn't pair correctly with clapping and dancing.  Sometimes being dependent on Him feels more like you're hanging off a cliff... hanging on by your fingertips.  You know He's there.  You know He has you.  But it feels dangerous.  And requires courage you can't muster up on your own.  So you rely on The Body.  You rely on the Holy Spirit.  There is beauty found in spiritual Community.

Thank you for praying for us.
Thank you for singing for us.
Thank you for allowing us to experience another piece of Community.
There will be a time when we will be on the other side of this.
And we will pray for you.
We will sing for you.

And when that day comes, may the faith of each and every one of us be stronger than it is today.  


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  2. This post is so personal to me, Deanna. Our shoes, though not identical, are so similar that we could step from one to another with barely noticing. Your shoes are "brain tumor." Mine are "quadriplegia." Doesn't Jimmy Choo or Monolo look pretty good from here? ;-)
    My stomach hurt and tears filled my eyes as I read your beautiful, hard words. Feelings I have felt but couldn't express. You have a gift... you're a wordsmith. Your thoughts, at least to those of us who've been there, are tangible. Palpable.
    I've stood there... believing... hungering... trusting... with raised hands and heart pounding. Thank you for verbalizing what we cannot when we're in the midst of it. And sometimes, even when we think we're on the other side.
    Today, I can sing for you as soon as the lump clears from my throat...
    "Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me..."
    "What if your blessing come through raindrops? What I'd your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near? What if trials off this life, the rain, the storms, the hardest night are Your mercies in disguise?"

    1. Ok... can I just say Autocorrect and I Anne NOT friends?! "IF" not "I'd." But then again... you knew that ;-)

    2. Wow Sherrie. Your words brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing.. Much love, prayers and singing, Deanna

  3. I sit here and read your words.. I think all i have been through..Then you say they sing for me.. I just really needed to hear those words right now.. I need someone to sing for me. I will always pray for you.. Thank you Deanna. Your words are heart felt and deeply effective,

    1. Joanne I have been praying for you!!! I cannot imagine the pain you must be in. May God surround you with His love and grace and peace. Much love to you!

  4. Thank you for putting into words the exact feelings i had this day. I had shared with a friend of my heart ache and she sent me this blog. As we walk through another time of suffering with my special needs son and his very serious auto immune issues... i have to have people singing for me, as i can't find the strength to do so. I KNOW what i KNOW but that does not always make the walk an easy one to physically put one foot in front of the other. God always provides and He is good - though i may not see an answer for my immediate need, I know and believe that our morning is coming and until it does, we will stand and look each day for His New Mercies... as those surrounding us keep singing...