Some years ago, I decided I would no longer ask God for a sign, at least about certain things. I do pray, as do many I hope, that He will reveal things to me or help me see things more clearly. I feel He has been very generous over the years, engineering little “coincidences,” which helped me see things differently or confirmed something I was feeling. The most recent of those little happenings concerned the title of this piece.
Many believe there is power in music. In fact, some very learned people over the years have claimed music can be more powerful than laws when it comes to shaping or controlling a nation.1 I first heard the claim in a lifeskills or self-help seminar years ago. It made sense in many ways, but I did not fully understand the power of music until I returned to Church.
Certainly, like many others over the years, I thought certain forms of music were suggestive of behavior that might not be the healthiest. Sex, drugs, rock, and roll had more meaning than many wanted to admit a few decades back. In more recent times, certain forms of music again seem to spread unwelcome actions and agendas in some areas.2
Originally, this piece was going to focus on the power of worship through song. As a long time choir member, I had been suffering through virtual services. Singing along in the living room while streaming a service was not the same as being in the choir loft or congregation during worship in song.
Thankfully, we returned to in-person services for limited numbers a few weeks ago. Even in a mostly empty sanctuary, singing with others was great, even if worship was led by a few singers and a small number of instruments. Feeling the meaning of the hymns and relating that to one’s relationship with God almost nullified the disaster that is 2020 for a time.
That was to be the sole focus of this piece initially. How great it felt to be back in a congregation, worshiping in song with other believers. Then, as I was preparing to write, I made the mistake of checking to see what others said about this aspect of worship, as I know there are differing opinions.
The first focused article I found was from a young man with excellent credentials, including a Ph.D. in theology. He was downplaying the importance of music, especially traditional hymns, as part of worship. He actually said he got very little from most hymns and felt more contemporary music would help engage attenders more meaningfully.
His writing did not change my opinion. However, it did make me wonder if I should do more research, find more resources, and read the views of others. Then God arranged one of those little coincidences for me. It came as text from my daughters wanting me to join them the next Sunday at their church for a special music program in place of the traditional service.
My daughters attend Denton County Cowboy Church. I have become a fan of their church, and the country music spin they put on worship songs and traditional hymns in some cases. As I’ve mentioned to many friends, you’ve not really heard “The Old Rugged Cross” until you listen to it accompanied by a steel guitar. I decided I should take the time to see my daughters and my grandkids, as well as check out this special service.
The special service was led by Alvarado Road Show. This is two brothers originally from Alvarado, Texas. They started this ministry years ago, and they were great! Their ministry is traveling the country, performing their country music worship songs, and sharing their testimonies. On this day, their message nailed me.
It was a great service and was as close as one can come in modern times to a message written on the wall, for me at least. In fact, there were two messages.
The first was the Ph.D. was wrong. Songs definitely can be a big part of worship and understanding. Anyone truly listening could hear the faith and heart of these two brothers. You could hear it in their stories, and especially their music. All anyone had to do to get closer to God that morning was listen.
As I have written at other times, we as believers can block His messages if we choose. It seems many do, especially when it comes to music. They either feel it is superfluous or simply to entertain. Sometimes it is, but not every time, and not if the worship leaders have their hearts right.
The duo’s story about the way they were dealing with the pandemic spoke to me as well. I have been procrastinating about the next step in my efforts to have a ministry of my own. This blog was supposed to be the starting point, not the primary attempt. Yet, I seemed to be blocked for one reason or another at every turn, and I began to wonder.
I wondered if I was stuck because I was not the right messenger. I wondered if this was the right time. I wondered if pursuing what I felt was my calling would be too costly or too time-consuming. Would it interfere with family life, much less my ability to produce income for said family?
I wonder no more. It is time to take the next step. If I am making the right move, God will let me know. If I am wrong, He will make that clear as well, but He will not take me by the hand and do the work for me. He expects me to stand up for what I feel and believe.
1 This idea is most often attributed to 17th century writer and politician, Andrew Fletcher.
2 Any student of history can understand the way music was used by those in power to breed sentiments and attitudes designed to inspire submission to a cause, or stoke the embers of hatred or superiority.
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