Friday, January 31, 2014

What's holding you back?

It wasn’t long after I joined my current church that I was asked to participate in an Easter drama called ‘His Story’ as one of the disciples. Honestly, I wasn’t hugely stoked about the idea, and accepted by what I thought was the guilt of turning down the church. It was shortly after the production, that our Music Director asked me to join the choir. She says that she saw how I was enjoying the production so she asked me to join the choir.

I gave some thought to it. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch for me. One night a week and Sunday mornings. I used to do choir in high school, did some musicals, and even sang in the community chorus. Then I went to college. All of that stopped. Some other things stopped too, and one of the big ones was my involvement in church.

During college, I took an EMT course. Turns out that course changed my life. I worked my way through being an EMT, to EMT-IV, to Paramedic. Eventually I even changed majors from Electrical Engineering into Nursing with the intention of being a Flight Nurse. During that process, I worked in the field as a paramedic. It wasn’t long before I worked a 10-50 that sent a ripple through me, all the way to the core of my soul and beliefs. A 10-50 is the ten code for a motor vehicle accident. This one was bad. A head-on into an 18-wheeler. We had to access through the rear window of the vehicle to get to the driver. I had to throw a car seat out of the way to get to the driver. That’s when we noticed the infant under the dash. I handed the lifeless body out the window to another medic. That is the moment I questioned my faith more than ever. How could God allow this to happen? It didn’t make sense, and I couldn’t wrap my brain around it no matter how many times I tried. And so I drifted.

That event held me back. But it didn’t just hold me back. It held back my family. Eventually, my wife and I felt a need to get back into church. Not for us as much as it was for our children. We realized there were some things missing and thought that an introduction to Christ would be a good start. So we found our church.

It wasn’t long after being in the choir that our Music Director approached me again. This time asking me to be in a men’s quartet. Clearly, she knew what she was getting. I had felt that my voice wasn’t as good as it was. I believe it was how I was, or more accurately wasn’t, using my gift. I believe that God made my voice stronger and my ear keener when I was singing in church. When I quit attending, I felt my gift slip. But I was nervous. I was worried about how I would sound, how I would impact the other guys, and a host of other things. This week we did an eight song set for the Wednesday night program. We recorded the rehearsals. I listed to the recordings to prepare for the program and thought, “I just don’t sound confident.” Worry of failure and doubt of ability were holding me back.

I had someone in Sunday School approach me about entering the teaching rotation. I thought, “You must be kidding. I am the least qualified person in this class to actually teach.” I was confused on how she even thought that was a good idea. I declined. Then I continued to think about it from time to time, never really considering it. I didn’t know the Bible well enough; I wasn’t even sure I even knew my beliefs enough. Besides there were some really good teachers in my class. As time went on, a couple of them had another calling in the church, leaving a need. I was asked again. At this point, how many times can you ignore the calling? I agreed, but it didn’t change my worry about giving the wrong information or not knowing the answers. Fear was holding me back.

This week, a colleague at work made a joking comment that I must be taking Ativan (a sedative). It struck me that there might be some truth to that. You see, as I have been rehearsing for our Wednesday night quartet program, I have been listening almost to our tapes and demo tapes of the songs exclusively. I felt the need to get a better knowledge of the Bible, so I joined the Disciple study group. We just got to the New Testament, but there has been so much I have learned already. I have taught Sunday School lessons that I needed for myself. I have sang songs on Sunday mornings with the right message. I started a blog.
But here is the really cool part of this story. I have seen how my witness and ministry has impacted others. I shared a message before Christmas that included a ‘One Word Resolution’. I have already heard from several people what their word was. Several took weeks to find their word. One took a major event to find theirs. I’ve gotten messages from family members that were really impacted. This week I saw the looks on some individual’s faces that were truly touched and blessed by the message in the quartet’s songs. I had the opportunity to give encouraging words that I probably would not have said a few months ago.
I wouldn’t have shared these things because I was being held back. Held back by fear of failure or not saying the right things. Fear of being called a hypocrite. Not feeling strong enough. If I’m going to be truly honest, maybe even some embarrassment about being so vocal about my faith.

Jesus calls us to give him our burdens and take up His yolk; His burdens are light. As I have moved in this relationship, I have found that, for now, the things of this world don’t seem so big anymore. Who cares if the seeds I sow don’t produce fruit. It’s not about those. It’s about the words that do produce fruit. That impact someone other than me. That give peace. That cause thought. That make ME question my actions, my deeds, my giving, my words.

What’s holding you back? What is it that is keeping you from sharing, from giving, from leading, from worshiping, from saying the prayer at church? I’ve come to realize that for all of these worldly worries, there is an easier way. There is one who overcame the grave conquering death. He can certainly help you overcome whatever is holding you back too. You only have to let him.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What does He see?

Tonight, I was on the old computer and needed to delete some things to make space on the hard drive. I went to downloads, sorted by type, and clicked on 'The Cross' from Billy Graham. I downloaded this movie with good intentions to watch it, but never got around to actually watching it. It's a fairly big file at over 400MB since it was the HD video. As I clicked to delete it, I felt a little guilty that I didn't watch it. I've never been really big on what I'd call mega-evangelists like Billy Graham, but I decided to watch it before I deleted it. (SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't watched 'The Cross', you can watch it on before you keep reading.)

I was surprised. It is a good, well-made video with two personal testimonies that I wasn't expecting. But there was one part that brought me to tears. Billy Graham quotes John 14:6, then says:
"When you come to him [Jesus], you are clothed in his righteousness. God no longer sees you a sinner; He no longer sees your own heart. He sees Jesus." 
I never thought of it quite this way. It was moving and left me in tears. I finished the video, then went back to that part. Again, I was moved to tears. Even now, I am not sure what the emotions really were. It was a feeling of relief that God sees His son instead of me and the love He must feel towards me. It had some joy; It had some shame.

There is a line from Indescribable by Chris Tomlin that says: "You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same." That is my favorite line in that song. But I like even more the idea that he doesn't see me; doesn't see my heart. He sees Jesus.

Here's the video Chris Tomlin doing a live performance of 'Indescribable':

Why a blog?

Tonight I decided to start a blog. Why? Because I have found several blogs that I have absolutely loved and used while teaching Sunday School. I often have ideas that I want to share, and share more than just on a FaceBook post. I hope you find something in this blog that helps you; But even more, I hope I find something that helps me in my journey.

I named this blog 'A Growing Relationship'. You see, I am still growing in my relationship with Jesus Christ. I hope this blog will help me in my journey, and hopefully help some others as well.