Tears spilled down my cheeks. I was terrified. I didn’t know how to play these songs, or these keys, my brain felt sluggish, I couldn’t think fast enough, my fingers wouldn’t move to the right notes. The worship leader was sick, so the song list had completely changed. We were given the songs as we walked in the door, so I didn’t get the usual hours of practice during the week. Church was starting in 40 minutes, 30 minutes, 15 minutes and I wasn’t ready. This was it. It was time to play or quit. I had to choose…walk away and tell them, I just can’t do it (very tempting) or believe that He would give me a miracle and cause my fingers and mind to work.
“You are getting too old for this kind of stress, LaDonna! Just walk away.” “You don’t have to put yourself through this kind of torture. They will be just fine without you…better even!” “You are about to really embarrass yourself.”
The practice was over. Church was about to start. We never did work out the transition to that last song. We didn’t get the right chords in the chorus. We didn’t even get through the whole song! My hands were shaking. It was a disastrous and nerve wracking rehearsal. I played more wrong chords, than right chords. I hit more off beats than on.
We walked to the green room to pray before the service. On the way, Jarrod said “Well…” sigh. “What do you think?”
I answered, “I think, I am on the verge of bursting into tears.” I don’t have it in me to take praise and worship lightly. It is serious business, a sacred trust, and I was about to breech that trust with a hideous display of incompetency.
We walked into the room and Annie was on her knees. I fell to the floor beside her, desperate. She began to pray. I don’t remember all the words to her beautiful prayer, all I remember is praying in agreement. “God, help us! Take our hands our voices, our minds. Play and sing through us. In our weakness you are strong. In our weakness you are strong. In our weakness you are strong.”
Then we were walking through the door, past the game table, into the side room, up the stairs, onto the stage. I looked at the people, their faces up turned with expectation or hunger, need and lack. They had come to meet with God. They were waiting for us to lead them into the holy place. They had left their issues and problems, worries and needs to come to this place to hear from Jesus, to feel His presence, to sing His praises. They were depending on us to be ready to take them there.
We weren’t ready physically, musically. I was the least prepared, the rookie musician. But something had happened in that prayer room. Surrender. We chose to trust Him to be the worship leader, the singer, the musician. We relinquished control.
The count, the intro, the music started. We pressed our hands against the keys and strings and He took over. We opened our mouths and forced air through our vocal chords and He sang. We stopped looking at one another for cues and fell into a particular unison, a river of Spirit sound that rushed by and carried us away in its great current.
By the second song, I realized I wasn’t even thinking, I was worshiping. My fingers formed chords that I didn’t even know. My hands moved in rhythms not even possible for my level of coordination. My heart soared. He was using my body to create worship, He was moving through me. Not just enhancing my ability but actually taking control of my faculties.
I was stunned. Humbled. Overwhelmed. Literally.
Tears fell freely down my face and onto the black and white keys at my fingertips. Words I had never formed spilled from my lips. Miraculous notes and harmonies poured forth from a soul that had been emptied of pride only to be filled with Him.
Jesus led worship that day. He was ready even though I wasn’t. He met His people and touched their needs, healed their hurts, breathed in their praise.
When I told this story, my friends and family all but rolled their eyes. I could see the disbelief on their faces. I saw them process the information through natural explanations and rational events.
Understandable. I would have done the same thing in their shoes. Maybe you are there now, coming up with many arguments, imagination, drama queen, senility as they did, quietly in the natural processing of reason and fact.
They weren’t there. They don’t know how utterly terrified and unfit I was. They only see the fact that I play frequently. How big a deal could it be? They don’t know that I practice 3 or more hours a week on one or two songs. They think I am exaggerating. Only God and I know the truth. It was His hand, His mind, His ability that played that day. I had nothing to do with it.
I came so close to walking away. I almost took the easy way out. I could have walked off the stage gracefully, keeping my dignity intact, no risk, no chance of humiliation. Instead, I chose to trust. I offered what I had…my loaves and fishes…(or in my case shaky fingers and foggy brain) to the Miracle Maker. I stepped off of the cliff of security into the unknown abyss of faith right into His miraculous arms. In doing so, in shedding my need for dignity and control, I was overtaken by the Holy Spirit and was merged with the master creator, the master musician, The Master.