This past weekend I had the incredible honor of singing in our church’s Christmas concert. Now this is no standard church concert. For the past seventeen years our church, under the musical leadership of Dan Bird, has put on the Many Moods of Christmas- four concerts featuring our 70 member choir, soloists and a full orchestra, with most of the players coming from the San Diego Symphony.
We had one- only one!- rehearsal before Saturday evening’s concert, and when the time came for my two songs that first night, my stomach was doing flips and my legs were a little shaky. I knew the songs well, but still wondered if I’d remember my lyrics. And what if I tripped walking out on stage? I’m usually tucked behind a piano- safe and secure. Standing out front was a new experience for me and I thought: Do I really see myself as a singer? Or have I always been a piano player who sings? Was I worthy of this honor, this privilege?
It was a significant performance, and I felt the pressure to succeed.
When I walked out onto the stage, that all changed.
The music started, and I experienced God’s presence, blanketing me in security and love. Letting me know he was with me.
The sounds of the orchestra filled the sanctuary. And as the musicians played the introduction, peace came over me. A desire to sing to the Lord replaced a desire to sing well for the audience. Communicating the message of the lyrics- the hope of Christmas, of salvation- was more important than showing off my skills. Pleasing God far outweighed my desire to please the crowd.
My heart opened up and I felt free. I loved it.
And I thought- this might be what heaven is like: all of us together, using our God-given gifts to boldly sing praises to him. Continually. Beautifully. Authentically. Feeling God’s pleasure as he delights in our worship.
All ages, all styles of music, all instruments- coming together and lifting it all up to the Lord- who is our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
A dear woman I know came up to me after the fourth and final concert. She pulled me aside and said, “You know what I was thinking about when you were singing? I was remembering where you were a few years ago (I was recovering from breast cancer surgery and chemotherapy). At that time, did you ever imagine that you would be here tonight on this stage? Singing in this concert with an orchestra? No. But God knew. He had this in his plan for you all along.”
I was humbled. I am grateful.
God is good.