Monday, August 8, 2011

I Can Sing

Yesterday morning at church, after worship, the older gentleman seated in front of me turned around and asked me, "Are you from the south?" I assumed Southern California didn't count, so I said "No, but he is," pointing at Neal. To which he replied, pointing towards his throat, "You have a really wide range. It's nice."

Yes, it's a well kept secret that I can sing. I can carry a tune pretty well, and I know I can sing both high and low. I know I can sing because other people have told me so. A woman at my friend's retreat told me in April, "I could sit next to you and listen to you sing for hours." And my neighbor one night was over and asked if we could sing some worship while we were praying together and then said, "Wow, you can sing." And even one morning while Neal was hurriedly getting ready to play drums as an emergency last minute substitute, as I was trying to help him get the list figured out, I was talking to the head of our worship ministry and singing the songs to make sure I could help Neal figure out which song he was going to have to play. She said, "Wow, you can sing, like worship team sing."

The truth is though, it's not my gift. When the gentleman on Sunday said "You have a wide range," I replied, "Yeah, I have a hard time finding where I'm supposed to be." And the truth is, when it comes to singing I fumble around quite a bit. A friend of mine who is extremely gifted in worship used to sing with me in the car on occasion and once I remember her stopping and just staring at me in frustration. I asked her what was wrong and she said, "You keep switching keys on me!"

The truth is, I don't even fully understand what that means. I get the gist, but I don't understand it well enough to not fumble around and bounce from low to high and back to low again. She'd do her best to help me understand it, but I'd just smile as pretty as possible and nod, really not having a clue, knowing it didn't matter, because God never called me to stand on a stage to sing.

When I sing, it's a sacrifice of praise. Sometimes it's beautiful and even gets a good response from others. (Please note, I am by no means being prideful about my ability to sing, as many times as I have "lifted my voice" in praise, the percentage of notable response is small.) But often no one is impressed or even noting my efforts at all. No one that is except the Lord. And I know for a fact that the Lord's attention isn't at all focused on the key of my singing, so much as He is the heart behind it.

As the gentleman turned back around and I sat down, that's the thought that occurred to me. As much as I like the idea of being thought of as "a good singer," if the only reason I did it was for the recognition of others it wouldn't be an offering to the Lord at all. But on the contrary, if my voice cracks and struggles as I try to find the right "key" with a heart of worship towards the Lord, then it's value is eternal.

This truth applies far beyond me and my singing. It's true of any act we do in the name of the Lord. Teach, preach, serve, sing, what is sustaining and stands is more about the heart behind it than the perfection of the effort. I think someday when we all get to heaven, I suspect we will find that things we thought were treasures for God will turn out to have been straw, and likewise things that we never thought really counted for much at all stood as strength in the big picture, and in the work of the Lord.

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
Colossians 3:23-24

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
1 Corinthians 3:9-15