I have been thinking back over the years of my life, since that summer of 2002 when I sensed God asking me if I was willing to put down my dreams and passions completely. . . with no hint of what that would mean. I was bewildered, but I gave it up. I had to fit through the gate because Jesus was on the other side and I wasn’t about to to be shut out.
From where I sit today, I can see how other doors were opening. A long line of doors actually.
Here’s how the story goes. The first time I strummed a guitar was my freshman year of college. I had a friend who would teach me chords as we hung out around campus until the early morning hours. I was motivated to learn. I had a cheap Takamine with a hole busted in the back that a friend had left behind when he went into the military. I didn’t even know how to tune the thing. But I soaked it up because I loved it. I continued to learn chords throughout college . . . and ended up buying a friends guitar that was in a little better shape. (It was candy apple red!)
My last semester I found out I had to have a one hour class to graduate. There was only one class that would fit into my schedule. It was advanced guitar. I pleaded with the teacher to let me in and promised I would work hard. I got seat number 6, out of 6 spots. I worked my fingers raw, and I had to make myself invest time in my other classes because all I wanted to do was play. I learned to cross-key, to play bar chords, and even had to write a song myself. By God’s grace I made it through. And I had no idea how much I grew in my skills because of that class.
Over the next several years I would have opportunity to play weekly at 2 different churches. All the time I was growing a deeper and deeper passion for the structure and philosophy of worship. Purposeful song selection, transitions, keys, and teaching Scripture through music. In Texas I saved up my Christmas money, birthday money, and taught guitar lessons to buy a really nice guitar. I promised God that I would never take it for granted and that I would use it to worship Him every opportunity I got.
After seminary we moved to California to serve at South Bay Church. When I first saw the band play I realized that this was the big game. At least a bigger game than I had ever seen at church! This was for real. I wanted to play so bad, so I auditioned. Since I have been playing here at South Bay I have continued to grow in my skills, but more than that I have discovered how motivated I am when it comes to worship. I think I’d say it fuels me more than any other type of ministry.
I see now that way back then, when God asked me to lay everything down, He was teaching me worship. Putting my dreams down so I could fit was an act of worship. I had to learn that God was worth me laying everything down. Even if it meant I only had Him. And He’s given me so much on the other side! So much blessing and so much more passion in a direction I never would have guessed.
My point is this: God gave me something and asked for it back. He had another plan in mind . . . and the plan He has for me today is where I need to be. And you know what? He’ll probably do it again! And if He does, by His grace I will walk through the gate with nothing in my hands . . . just to have Him. Because thats what worship really is.