I use this phrase all of the time. It's tagged onto the electronic signature of my emails for crying out loud. But do I mean it? I want to.
Ever had a day or week, or season where God just absolutely blows you up with stuff that you need to surrender? Like you're cruising along, reading your Bible, praying, fasting, singing, and then all of the sudden...BOOM! Like an A-Bomb to the face. Well that's been me for the past two weeks.
God has been stirring something in me for years, and I didn't realize it until recently, exactly what was going on inside. I knew I felt an unrest with my shallow Christian existence, and just attending the "stuff" at church, or bible study wasn't making it go away. A few days ago, God finally made it clear. It was my parents fault. Thats right. Mom and Dad I have you to blame for this!
You see, from a very early age, and by early I mean before conception, my parents have prayed over me that I would 'hunger and thirst for righteousness' (Matt. 5:6), and since 'He hears the prayers of the righteous' (Pr. 15:29), God showed me that this was simply their prayers springing up in my life. So all the frustration, all the complacency, all the contempt I had for many of the things that I saw and was taking part in, was largely due to an answer to those prayers. I was desiring Him, His righteousness, His power, His healing. Simply talking about Him, and seeing other people experience Him didn't even scratch the surface of the raging inferno I had going on inside.
So a few years ago, I began to pray a prayer. This prayer has pretty much manifested itself into every song I have ever written, and it's something like this:
Jesus, consume me with Your name. Jesus, unglue me for Your fame alone. Let me feel death, let me feel life, destroy me with You. I am Yours, God, I am Yours alone.
Come show Your face to me, You're all I want to see, You're all I'll ever need.
I want to breathe the breath of freedom, and see Your glory and Your kingdom come.
I want to see the chains fall off Your people, so all the world would know and see You,
the real Jesus. I'm to blame father, I've become numb, cold, complacent and afraid.
But I cling to Your Word, and trust that my heart will rise as I see Your face, my chains
will fall off in Your light, that I will experience peace in Your embrace. You are the God
who saved me, the God who claimed me for Your fame alone, by Your grace alone.
So holy, holy Lord, let it rain, let the showers of Your mercy fall. I finally see what it
means to gain by losing my life. Help me Jesus, to stay lost in your eyes. I'm ready to let go, to die, to live. I love You Jesus. It's in the saving name of Christ I pray, amen.
Now, I don't know if you've ever prayed a prayer like this. But it's extremely dangerous and hazardous to your life. What I mean is that, by praying a prayer like I did, I was giving God a full-out invitation to completely wreck me. This means, anything that was in, is in, or will come in to my life that is not of Him, for Him, in Him, or pleasing to Him needs to be laid before the cross of Jesus, left behind, and burned up. Easy enough right? WRONG! (I just said that in the voice of Rafiki from the Lion King, to give you a better visual)
Trust me, the last few years have been anything from easy, they have been full of pain, longing and waiting. But without a doubt they have been the best years of my life and if I had the choice, I wouldn't go back for anything. I wouldn't trade the hardship I have encountered because I've seen way too much of Him to desire anything else.
The reason I write this blog, is that hopefully, you will find some of yourself in here. That maybe you would find that struggling with God is not a bad thing. In fact, it might be one of the best things. It's through this struggle that we are shown who He is, who we are not, and what He designed us to be: a part of His greater story that echoes His greatness, fame, grace, and mercy to the world.
So back to the last couple of weeks. I'm going to share this in complete transparency. We all struggle with pride to some extent. And God busted me on one of the sources of mine recently. You see when you pray for surrender, that's a surrender of EVERYTHING. That's all that you desire, hope for, dream about, struggle with, worry about, EVERYTHING. And as we surrender everything, our identity is grounded where it was designed to be, in our redeeming savior Jesus Christ. But let's be real. Everyone holds on to something. That one thing that we don't want to relinquish, either out of fear or just plain selfishness, we white-knuckle that thing for all it's worth. For some it's control. For some it's achievement. For some it's even ministry. Mine was revealed to me this past week. Mine is my talent in music.
I treasure it, I covet it, I glory in it, I define myself in it. And many times, I flat out sell myself to it. God revealed this to me, quite painfully this last week. Being a Worship Leader in the 21st century can be a slippery slope as far as ego is concerned. We're placed in front of large groups of people, assembled in various 'bands', make worship records, and are subject to a great deal of applause. There's an extremely thin line to walk in regard to humility.
You know what I'm talking about. Do you ever feel like your Worship Leader thinks he's a rock star? The way he dresses, acts on stage and talks. Like he's the friggin Mick Jagger of Christian Music (or insert your favorite Rock Star, I happen to like the Stones). I have always made fun of these guys. That was until God revealed it to me that I AM one of these guys. Maybe not so much with the "thinking I'm a rock-star" mentioned above, (I do spike my hair however, and wear those Castro-revolution and Bagger Vance caps, so I'm guilty of that, you caught me) but when I was completely honest with myself I found that I do love the applause, the fanfare, the acknowledgement. God revealed that I have a deep desire to be famous, to be talked about, to have my praises sung and that needed to go, now.
Whew, well needless to say that was not fun to hear. And I would like to say that as soon as that was brought to my attention I fell on my face, repented, and laid it down. But that would be a lie.
I am struggling with it, honestly. I do want those things. I do want to lead worship at those big conferences like Passion. I do want to write songs that people will sing at churches around the world. I do want to have tons of people download my music. I want to be famous. I just speaking truthfully.
BUT, I am eagerly praying that God would change that. That he would help me release that. That if he asked me to never sing again, to never write again, to never get up in front of people again, I would simply just as Isaiah did, say Yes Lord.
I'm not there yet. But I want to be. So pray for me. Pray that Christ alone would be enough for me. Pray that my praise of the Creator would be so much greater than the praise of the created gifts He's given to me. Because how ridiculous is it for a Worship Leader to try to steal glory from Him? I'm singing songs ABOUT HIM for crying out loud. Songs that have everything to do with His grace, love, mercy, and salvation. Things that I don't deserve but he gave them anyway. Things that were always His, and remain to be His. I want to be able to mean those words. It's the cry of my heart.
So for Your fame alone Jesus, help me to mean this.