Hey guys. I want to share encouraging things with you, but I've been struggling with my writing lately. Especially because I read other religious blogs and get a little discouraged with my own writing.
However, because they write so well, it's uplifting to many people, including myself. I have to accept the fact that, sometimes, God isn't going to work through me for everything.
This leads me to present a thought that just occured to me a few minutes ago as I sat indian-style on my chair, staring at a blank passage and blinking cursor.
I think I just need to let my favorite writers do the talking.
If you didn't know, Tenth Avenue North is one of my favorite bands. The lead singer, Mike Donehey, is absolutely brilliant. He is one of those guys that just hits the nail on the head. Every time. His writing is simple, clean-cut, and so easy to relate to and understand.
So for the next week or so, I'm going to just let him speak. Until God moves me.
I'm copying and pasteing from Mike's blog, SeizedByAGreatAffection and the Overflow Devo he did on the Youversion app and bringing it over to my blog.
Yesterday was a big day.
Two years of writing, rewriting, crying, high-fiving,
yelling, demoing, and recording
finally came to a head when our band released
our new record, The Struggle.
I will not say much more than that,
but it is an incredible privilege I’ve been given
to make music that blesses others and teaches me.
The songs I write teach me.
Czech this verse.
“I will incline my heart to a proverb;
I will solve my riddle to the music of the lyre”
After 11 or so years of playing and writing songs,
I’ve finally come to understand that I don’t write,
because I know what I’m talking about,
I write precisely because I don’t know what I’m talking about.
I write to understand.
I write to unriddle my heart.
So all of you who’ve listened in on this process, thank you.
Thanks for investing your time and money on these songs,
and joining me on the journey.
Jesus has showed me so much
as I’ve sought to join Him in the creative process,
and I’m eager to see what lies ahead.
May He continue to unriddle my heart.
May He continue to unriddle yours.
Our band played a festival called Lifelight last night.
It’s a quite large gathering that happens every year in South Dakota.
Completely free, and completely crazy, this was the third time we’ve played there,
and needless to say, it didn’t fail to live up to our expectations.
The people who gathered in the field came ready to sing,
ready to dance, and in one case apparently, one girl was even ready to faint.
(Don’t worry, she was ok)
And it felt, for lack of better words, ELECTRIC.
From the first note, we knew we were going to be privileged to navigate
the energy that these people brought with them,
away from a stage, away from a band, and back up to the fixed gaze on a
Heavenly Father overflowing with love for us all.
“I am loved!”
“I am loved!”
“I am loved!”
I chanted it from the microphone and had the people echo it back.
We screamed God’s promises together.
We danced, we sang, and we were free.
For a few short moments in time, we lost our gaze on ourselves
and were unbound to fix our eyes on our God.
And walking off the stage 90 minutes later,
exhausted, spent, and dripping with sweat,
I was relieved that it didn’t matter whether or not God used me.
What mattered was that God moved.
Just 12 hours earlier, I sat on an empty stage, in front of an empty field,
coffee cup in hand, watching the morning fog rise from the grass and was
reminded of what God had spoken to me at a similar festival a few years ago.
Our band was huddled together back stage going through our pre-show rituals;
arm stretches, jumping jacks, vocal warm ups, and of course, prayer together,
when I felt, for one of the few times in my life, that God spoke straight to my heart.
I was in the middle of begging God to use us, as I almost always did,
when I heard a whisper over my shoulder.
“Hey Mike, I know you want me to use you, but what about all the other bands here?
What if I want to use them? Would you be ok with that?”
Dumbfounded, I came up short in my prayer.
I grew silent.
I opened my eyes and said to the four bandmate brothers surrounding me,
“Guys…I need to confess something.
Every show we gather together like this and ask God to use us.
Use our set. Use our songs. Use our talking….
Well, what I have to admit to you is that what I’ve really been praying was,
God, use us, and don’t use anyone else.
I’ve been using His using us as a source
of justification for me, and it’s robbed me of so much potential joy.
I think, well, I think what God wants for us to pray is just that He would move.
Whether He uses our set or the other bands’ sets, or the speakers or whoever…
I want to be ready to celebrate His moving.
Because isn’t that what really matters?”
Last night was incredible.
I felt like God was flowing through me and using me and it was such a humbling
privilege to be a hammer in the hand of the Carpenter pounding promises
back into people’s brains, including my own.
But let me just say, as beautiful as that sensation is,
what’s even more beautiful is to be free to rejoice when
God doesn’t use me.
When He uses that other band, or that other church, or that other ministry,
It’s incredibly freeing to know that what I can be just as excited for them.
God doesn’t need us.
Check out Acts 17:25.26 if you don’t believe me.
All that we have, all that we are, ALL IS GIFT.
Let me say that again:
ALL IS GIFT.
And that’s such beautiful news friends.
It’s a major blow to our pride to be sure,
but it’s such a relief for our independent, “Just Do It,” praise mongering attitudes.
Like I’ve heard my pastor say,
“God can do anything without me, but I cannot do anything without Him.”
Or as Paul says in I Corinthians 4.7 “What do you have that you did not receive?”
Or in I Corinthians 3.7?
“So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything but God gave the growth.”
So, if you would be so bold,
let’s stop praying that God would use us, and just pray that God would move.
Pray that He would use anyone and everyone to bring about his purposes.
It may not feed your ego,
but the joy of celebrating God’s work, will feed your soul.