I knew when I started recording this CD that God was up to something. I knew it had very little to do with music.
So, I went into it with a little bit of fear and trembling, because I had some clues of what He was thinking. And here we are with just a couple of sessions left (for me anyway, I’m sure there is a lot of work left for others to do!), and I’m seeing some glorious stuff! Well, God being glorious; me, not so much, as you will see if you continue reading.
I wanted to share three things that God is showing me through making this CD.
#1- He doesn’t need me to make a CD, and I do not need to make a CD. It is not a need in any way, shape, or form. The need is this: To learn some things about myself and about how to please Him better with my life; to just obey even if I don’t see a good reason to do it. I think, “I probably won’t even do any concerts. I probably won’t even sell any CDs, ” and He is saying that isn’t the point. The point is that I obey. And so, He provides the opportunities that will teach me these lessons.
#2- This is about the process, not the outcome. As in SO many other things in my life, God is concerned with HOW I do things, HOW I respond, more than actually WHAT I do. From the beginning of this project I have known that I was going to be given opportunities to handle frustration or difficulties. What a great object lesson for life! To realize that whatever happens, our attitude and faithfulness to praise Him/pray/love others/forgive is much more important than the action we were doing when that opportunity arose…whether that was getting groceries or working in a village in Africa! Therefore, I have learned that I am not a very grace-filled person. I’ll give…until I’m done. Today I see a clear message from God: We can never give too much grace. There will never be a time that we are too kind and generous. Sure, we might have to make better decisions about who we work with, etc., next time, but for this time, for right now, let’s see if we regret ever giving too much grace. I don’t think it’ll happen. (And by the way, I would never want to work with anyone other than the people I am working on with this CD! I was just playing out the example a bit.)
#3- Being in ministry and sort of on church staff for the past decade, I have seen many wonderful, beautiful people doing many wonderful, beautiful things. But I have also seen one thing almost always rear its ugly head…and that is this innate, protective, cloaked in a sense of responsibility, PRIDE. Pride is not necessarily thinking you are important or great or that God couldn’t go on without you. Pride is WANTING to be important or great or invaluable to God, or wanting your church or ministry to be important, great, or invaluable to God. Pride can come in the form of being aggravated at others for not being as involved as you are in your particular ministry. Pride can come in the form of complaining that others are just not as committed or caring or sacrificial as you are. Pride can come in the form of you staying up all night to do a church project alone, because you feel responsible that it happens. Pride is there when we feel the need to protect our spiritual reputation, when we’re afraid to say something in small group because we don’t want to look like we are spiritually clueless, when we shrink back from asking someone to pray for us because we think they’ll think something that is not true about us…that they’ll think the worst when really it was a kind of small thing.
I don’t think we get burnt out because there are so many people to pray for, minister to, or organize. I think we get burnt out because we begin to prioritize some things God never told us to prioritize, in our hearts, in our souls. We set goals and set our focus on lesser things than knowing Jesus and loving others. We receive a sense of responsibility that is really just condemnation because we think “our thing” needs to look like this and do these things…and our drivenness does nothing but drive others away. The fact is, and this is just a word of warning to myself as much as anyone else, we must be obedient and focused on what God tells us to do each season of our lives and TRUST that HE will take care of the results even if what He is saying seems so small and quite frankly, not a ladder to success. Spurring others on is part of it, for sure…but never ever ever ever ever for the sake of our ministry thriving or our church growing or for the identity and security of those who call themselves our shepherds. Spurring others on toward Jesus should have one goal: Those people being left in His hands for Him to tell what to do. And He may tell them to leave. It’s okay. If it’s not okay, then we are feeling the result of pride.
So, how this relates to the CD is that I have seen and fallen into these traps before, and I sense I could easily fall into it again by thinking that this CD is super important and worth being driven about, out of some warped understanding of the responsibility that I DO have to obey. Whether its a church or a ministry or an orphanage or my money or this CD, its not that I don’t care. Its not that I don’t think its a worthwhile undertaking. It’s a priority because I was told to do it, but it’s not more important or valuable than any other thing I am called to do such as make lunch every day for my family or pray for people God puts on my heart. In our hearts, I think we must come to grips with the facts that these things entrusted to us are not ours to be a part of our legacy, reputation, or story, and that they are not for us. It sounds like death to self and it is! But do you see what happens through this death, through saying farewell to all that self interest and self entrenched God-following, all that trying to impress God? When that death happens, we are set free to obey with a carefree spirit because we are no longer loaded down by the things that made our callings sort of scary and anxious and hard.
I think that’s the point. Going about obedience in a childlike, carefree way. He didn’t tell us to do things and to do them in certain ways to lay a heavy burden on us. He didn’t tell us, “Go do this and impress me!” He certainly didn’t say, “This is your baby. You’ve got one shot to get it right.” We can be carefree as we obey because we are doing our part and we have crucified the part of us that is pridefully interested in the results.
As you can see, I am learning a lot about myself…and doing quite a bit of repenting, which is an enormous gift in itself. I have nothing if I don’t have repentance. I am convinced all I have to offer God is my faith (which He produced in me to offer to Him), and all I have to offer others is my honesty.