I was blessed today with the opportunity to simply sing at a funeral service.
My deepest and sincerest condolences to out to the Severen family at the loss of Arlie Mae. May God's loving arms surround you during this time of grief.
But I thank you for the opportunity simply to lend my voice in worship.
It's not often that I get to do things simply when it comes to worship anymore. Usually, I'm heavily involved in the planning and implementation of said worship. Usually, I'm having to sweat a million details to make sure it all comes together.
But this time, I just had to sing. "In the Garden." "How Great Thou Art." Worship. Praise God and pray that through my singing, others may be touched with grace.
There is something about singing and listening to others sing which does this. I cannot tell you how many times I have been surrounded in worship with voices raising all around and felt the goosebumps arise. I cannot tell you how music has helped the message of Christ's love sink in.
A precious memory of childhood:
Before my home congregation moved from downtown Robstown, TX to its current location near Calallen, my mother was asked to offer special music to the congregation during the offering. She played the piano and sang, "What Wondrous Love is This?" I can remember that moment clearly. The final verse exclaims:
And when from death I'm free, I'll sing on, I'll sing on
And when from death I'm free; I'll sing on
And when from death I'm free, I'll sing His love for me
And through eternity, I'll sing on, I'll sing on
And through eternity, I'll sing on.
I remember the pastor standing after mom's solo and saying, "I just wanted you to keep singing on." And I agreed. Mom has a beautiful voice.
More and more, though, I tend to see people believe that you need a beautiful voice to sing. You need to be able to put things together perfectly--like all those singers on television; the radio; on MP3 players. If I don't sound like that, I shouldn't be singing.
First off, no one sounds like that. You don't need talent to sing anymore. They have something called autotune. Most of those folks parading around up there these days don't have all that much talent--they have a look. The talent is supplied by computer enhancement. (There are some really good singers, though. Hello Pentatonix!) I think this is detrimental to those who want to sing but feel inadequate.
Second, you learn to sing by singing. Your vocal cords will not get in shape until you stretch them, and stretching comes by using. They will begin producing better sound the more you use them and train them.
Third, I know that doesn't mean squat when you are self-conscious. Believe me, I am right there with you--or at least I was. Another memory from long ago:
On more than a few occasions, my mother tried to get me to sing in church. I wouldn't. I absolutely refused. I was too self-conscious. I didn't want to make a fool out of myself because I didn't think I could sing. Mom would literally elbow me right in the middle of church and say, "SING!!" So, what did yours truly do? Mouth the words. Yep, lip sync. Lips moved, but no sound issued forth. I thought I was clever.
But I missed out on an opportunity. I missed out on training the vocal instrument God had given me. And it's taken more time than it needed to discover, I've got a pretty good instrument--an instrument I can use to God's glory.
Which brings us back to that whole fear and self-conscious thing. I know the standard argument is, "It doesn't matter what others think, you should just sing." That argument never worked on me. Never. I'm pretty sure it won't work on anyone who reads this snippet. So, let me try something else.
Singing is integral to worship. All through scripture, people raised their voice in singing songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. Why? Well, they knew what God had done for them. They knew that God had created them; provided for them; delivered them; loved them; nurtured them. We know that God took on human flesh and died for us while we were still sinners. We know that God took on human flesh and reconciled the world unto Himself. When that news sinks in, it produces great joy--a joy that cannot remain silent. That joy wants to be let out. It wants to be expressed. It wants to find a voice. And that voice wants to sing.
I'm not going to argue with you and tell you to sing. I want you to know God's great love for you. I want you to know just what He did for you because of that love for you. I want that to penetrate your heart.
Once it affects your heart, it will impact your vocal cords.
Once it affects your vocal cords, you will do what I got to do today at a funeral.