When I joined the worship team I thought it would be easy. I knew the words after a year and half of singing them, and I was confident enough to chill in the background with some harmonies when I had them. So I joined and saw smooth sailing ahead. God on the other hand, had a myriad of challenges in store for me. Those first weeks, I waded through a lot of struggles stemming from cultural differences and pride. Every week it seemed I was thrown into something new that I was unprepared for and seemingly incapable of doing well.
For instance, the first week I was on stage was not the day I was supposed to start. I had walked into church on Easter ready to sit down when I was rushed to the stage to sing because they needed me. I was comfortable with this turn of events until I realized I was dressed horridly inappropriately. Shorts on stage are a huge no-no in my church, and mine weren't even the long ones. I felt like I might as well have been in my underwear for how awkward I felt in front of everyone. After apologies to the pastor and worship team, and explaining to many people that "I didn't know I was singing today", I learned that lesson well. Our pastor even joked that I remembered pants the next service when I showed up completely covered.
The next week our other singer was missing again and I had to try "Harp and Bowl" or "Harpa y Copa" on the fly. This is a way of singing the prayers and verses spoken during the prayer time in the mornings. Meaning I had to hear prayers in Spanish, understand them, and make up my own melody and words as I sang them back. It is actually a really cool practice but I was terrified and felt my lack of fluency keenly. This was a step up in difficulty from the shorts fiasco.
The third time that I recognized God was specifically challenging me, was the next week when Melo, a bible trafficker to closed countries, came to speak at church. Our two leaders were both going to be gone on that Sunday and before I knew it I was volunteered and signed up to lead worship at church, in spanish, without a practice beforehand... in front of an epic missionary who had been all over the latin world hearing worship. I have never felt so sick from nerves before that day. I had a few days to change the keys to fit my voice, learn the signs to signal changes to the team, and show up to church feeling like I would pass out. The prayer time in the morning was almost a complete disaster which made the looming service seem impossible. So many people came up to me beforehand to pray with me and give me words of encouragement. I felt so loved and cared for by the church and God that morning, but I still felt sick. The worship team was all pats on the back and smiles and didn't seem nervous to have me leading them. I applauded them for their faith. Maybe they saw what I couldn't... that God can work through a hot-mess-of-a-sinner like me and make incredible things happen.
The first song I might have thrown up if I didn't have to get words out of my mouth instead... and then the it was over. And we were onto song two, and three... and then I had forgotten to be nervous and was worshipping God and praying to him in Spanish and succeeding! I don't say this to toot my own horn. I honestly didn't even have a kazoo to toot... This was all the Lord and His work through me that made the service possible. I can never take any credit for those songs coming out correctly and for the music blending together. God worked it all out to His glory. After the service, I received some of the best compliments from people saying that, "I really felt the presence of God today," and "I was really able to worship today." PRAISE GOD for that! I was blown away by God's ability and desire to use me to glorify his name. And I am forever grateful for the opportunity to be a part of bringing His people before the throne.
I get to lead a few other times before I leave in June and I pray I will recognize that, even with a worship practice beforehand, God is still in control and deserves all the glory. Thank you Lord for always showing up and being bigger than we can imagine! Thank you for working through a sinner like me!