Sunday Services at 10:00am
1155 Silas Deane Highway, Wethersfield
During our July and August Sunday morning worship gatherings, I will be preaching through selected Psalms, using that section of the Bible in order to help us connect in deeper ways to God. During that time, I will be using the NewLife blog as a platform for the people of our church the opportunity to share about particular songs that help them connect to God.
“I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.” (Psalm 34:1)
As I’m sure it is no surprise to most of you, music was and is my language of expression and how I best communicate with God. Certain songs reach my deepest emotions and allow me to release them by listening, singing or playing. There is at least one, typically many, for every feeling in my heart, even those that I cannot describe.
“God gave us music so we could pray without words.” –Quote from outside a German opera house
As a performer, both amateur and professional, and member of the NewLife Worship Team, this sermon series discovering Psalms is especially meaningful for me. I took my musical talents for granted through most of my youth. Only after I accepted Christ did I learn they were His gift to me to be used for His glory. Still I struggle with my “diva complex,” a very common illness in singers. When I am confident that I sang and played well or I receive affirming compliments from others, my pride balloon swells up. I’d like to tell you that this happens more often outside of church, but the truth is it’s a challenge in any “performance” scenario, including Sunday mornings. There are times I catch myself concentrating on notes and rhythms instead of love for the Lord. Any member of the worship team will agree that Satan attacks us in this way. Therefore we pray together before the start of each service, that the sounds coming from our mouths and instruments are pleasing to His ears and received as praise. Each musician also takes time off to recharge by joining the congregation. My time away from the microphone and seated with Matt lets me enter into worship by listening to the music rather than focusing on enhancing other church members’ experiences.
While there are many songs dear to my heart during different parts of my faith journey, “Desert Song” by Hillsong United applies to all times and scenarios in my life.
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 the God who provides
This is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flame
I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain
I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here
This is my prayer in the battle
When triumph is still on its way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I’ll stand
All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship
This is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
I know I’m filled to be emptied again
The seed I’ve received I will sow
We are meant to praise God always in every circumstance, but sometimes it’s the very last thing I want to do. When life is wonderful and care-free, I may cast the Lord aside since “I don’t need His help.” In times of trial or loss, I tend to feel abandoned and angry. Where are You, God!? Why would You do this to me!? Are You even there!?
This exact hopelessness overcame me just this past week. I believed He surely gave me the perfect part-time job in a before & after school program. The interview went very well and we even discussed setting up a second meeting with the director to start the paperwork. On Thursday, I received an email stating they are not able to offer me a position at this time. My confidence was severely broken and I even began doubting my decision to return to college. If I can’t even get a job working with kids, how can I ever become a teacher? I had my brief period of crying and mourning, then reached out to others for prayer when I “couldn’t” do so myself. I was later encouraged that the Lord has something better for me. Maybe He knows I can’t handle work and school together, so unemployment will aid my academic success. A dear friend told me she actually worked for this program in the past and it wasn’t what she expected at all. She felt so attacked and stressed by the staff that she quit and told me I dodged a bullet. God may even have a different plan for me that I truly am not meant to teach, as much as I may struggle to accept it. I don’t know His intent at this point, which is why I need to continue clinging to Him.
As hard as it might be, I strive to be like David in Psalm 34 and turn to the Lord through good times and bad, no matter what. I want to praise Him when I am delighted and content. I want to testify of His love and mercy when I fall short. I want to trust in Him when all seems hopeless. That is exactly the message “Desert Song” communicates to me, the bridge in particular.
All of my life, in every season,
You are still God.
I have a reason to sing.
I have a reason to worship.
When tragedy or depression strikes, I may feel I can never sing again. However, these lyrics remind me that it isn’t by my power that I lift my voice in song. God is the one who gave me that ability as He tells me in Brenton Brown and Brian Doerksen’s “Your Love is Amazing;”
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah! Your love makes me sing!
It is for this and all of the blessings and even the trials I’ve received, I yearn to sing His name forever, no matter what.
On the “This is our God” live DVD, singer Jill McCloghry reads Psalm 66 just prior to the band playing “Desert Song” (see below). God is so powerful within her as she fights back the tears, remembering the loss of her premature son just days before recording the album (you can hear her story below).
Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what He has done for me.
I cried out to Him with my mouth; His praise was on my tongue.
If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;
but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.
Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld His love from me! (Psalm 66:16-20)
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