Worship, Waiting and Words

When I went to Kenya recently, one of my favorite things I did was to encourage the team that are doing ministry in Obunga day in and day out. The first Sunday I was there, I had the opportunity to lead a worship song and do a workshop with the worship team at Ndoto Community Church. It was so fun and while I unfortunately have zero footage of the workshop – I assure you it was one of the most precious things ever! The worship team took notes as I talked about what worship is defined as in Scripture, and what it really means to be a worship leader. We talked about the primary role of a worship leader is to minister to the Lord, and in doing so, creating an atmosphere of worship for His people. For some on the team, it was like watching a light bulb go off, seeing brand new concepts and truths from Scripture open their eyes. I also give them a pop vocal crash course, which was hilarious and so fun! They all wanted private lessons and I did not have enough time to do it but if I could have stayed another week, I would have loved to dive deeper with them! It was special to take a step back and realize all I have learned and all that God has imparted to me through my church and my training was able to be passed on to a group of worshipers half way around the world.

The church in Obunga is actually one of the first places I ever led worship. I sang with a choir in college, have loved singing all my life, and sang in a few other more traditional settings. But Obunga in 2006 – that’s where I began to really lead worship and feel the call on my life. I didn’t really recognize it at the time, but looking back, the tapestry God has been weaving together is easier to see.

People always ask me why Kenya is such a love of mine. The truth is, I don’t know. I just know that when I was in 2ndgrade, I did a report on Kenya in front of the whole grade, and ever since then, I wanted to go there. That’s something only God can do. He just planted that place in my heart at such a young age. It has stayed so special to me because I have seen God in special, radical, and tangible ways on Kenyan soil. One of those special ways is in my journey in worship.

What’s so crazy, is that 6 years ago, while I was living in Kenya, worship leading and writing music was a dream I thought was dead. Before I moved there, I had been leading worship on staff at my childhood church, where I thought I’d be on staff for a very long time and grow as a worship director/pastor. That dream came to a rather sudden and painful halt, and for two years I hadn’t really been to church, let alone sung a song even in my car.

In November of 2012, my missionary friend Clara and I went to Nairobi for a weekend getaway and spent some time in prayer together. She prayed and prophesied over me and they are words I won’t ever forget. I remember she said that she felt strongly that I would lead worship at my church and that I would meet and work with Rita Springer and it would change the way I worship.  At the time, the words were life giving and stirred hope inside me. They were words that encouraged my heart that was walking out the Scripture “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…”.

Since I moved back to the states, I’ve been diligently and faithfully pursuing leading worship. Upon my return, this woman, Rita Springer that I had just learned about while living in Kenya had moved to Texas to join my church as an artist in residence. She was all of the sudden just right there in front of me.  I even found myself at her DIVE worship school. Her life, her worship, her heart, and her worship school did, in fact, change the way I worship the Lord, and rekindle my love for music and writing and leading.

It’s been a long journey of pursuing my dream and my call but in the end as per the usual, I was left in more waiting. Waiting on the Lord to bring the break through. Wondering what He would do with the broken pieces of my fractured story. Clinging to the promises of Him who called me. Wondering if I heard the Lord wrong or was disobedient in some way. It has been a hard journey for the past 5 years – being in process of becoming part of the worship ministry at my church. No matter how many times people told me to go to a different church and try out for their team, or just quit pursuing it, I knew that the Lord had made my home where I was at, and every time I thought about leaving, I had absolutely no peace.

So that’s a little backstory for you…fast forward to my recent trip to Kenya. One morning, about halfway through my trip, I got an email from my worship pastors inviting me to officially be on the worship team!!!!! To be honest, when I read the email, I thought it was sent to me on accident! Lol

I thought “but I haven’t done anything that would make them decide this”. Then, one of the pastors sent me a message telling me to check my email. I couldn’t believe it, which is ironic considering the amount of years I have pressed in and pushed through and stayed the course of what I know in my heart God was asking of me. It’s like we get used to the disappointment, or the no’s, and when God actually does the thing that we have been praying for or hoping for, we are completely surprised and in disbelief. That’s a whole different story and I’m digressing. But, five years of staying the course and struggling through faith and fear and wondering if I was wrong was all worth it.  The most fun part about finding out that I was officially part of the team is that my friend Clara was there with me just after I got the news! See, she was obedient to share that word with me 6 years ago, and by the grace of God, she got to see it come to fruition.  It was just too cool to see her rejoice with me with this almost unwavering confidence – she wasn’t surprised at all. Just so pumped that the Lord completed what He had spoken.

In a lot of ways I’ve already felt like part of the team – leading worship in overflow rooms, and helping wherever the need was. Now, I just have an added capacity to my role and I am excited for the journey to continue.

My worship pastor, Austin, said recently that titles catch up to you. You don’t have to wait for them. You just do what God is asking you to do and the appropriate titles will catch up to you in time. I personally haven’t ever been a respecter of titles, but I think he’s right. In Kenya, I was reminded that just because I haven’t been leading at my church, doesn’t mean I’m not a worship leader. I’ve been given opportunities to lead at conferences and retreats and churches in different parts of the world…and now God is expanding those opportunities and allowing me to serve in the local body of Christ that I call home.  I consider it joy to be even a small part of what God is doing…and what is so crazy is that when the Lord asked me to lay it down in 2010, I was SO scared and so freaked out that I would never do it again. It wasn’t that he was taking away the call. BUT…my heart had shifted, and it wasn’t in the place that He desires it to be. It wasn’t all about Him. It was about me, my talent, where I found my identity. Of course, I didn’t think that was true at the time, but looking back, I am grateful for the pause. I’m grateful for the waiting because my heart is in a different spot now. I feel humbled, honored, and joyful at the opportunity to serve even in the smallest capacity in my gifts. Or my sweet spot, as I like to call it.

What I realize from this portion of my story is that God speaks. It doesn’t always come in the forms of communication we want or expect, but He speaks. AND…when He speaks, He will do it. He is in the business of keeping His word and the vision or the call He gives us usually doesn’t look like we are expecting, so we have to be open. I’ve also learned that there is necessity in taking pause, laying things down, and just being. Some of the hardest and sweetest moments in my life have been in these years of laying down the thing I love to spend time with the one who calls me His. To just be his daughter, and to soak up that my identity is the same whether or not I ever sing a note again…that’s powerful and life changing, and leaves me so grateful for the season of waiting.

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