“[D]o not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.” Mark 13:11
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season. II Timothy 4:2a
It was “That Sunday,” the one which occurs once a year, usually in mid-August, vacation time for the entire worship team, except yours truly and one or two other exceptions. This year the exception was Garry, the bass player, who was in the sound booth filling in for the missing sound person. So, that left me up front with my guitar and a couple of mics.
I’ve written before about the chaos that resulted when I was in semi-panic mode, stressing out over what songs to sing, what key, and whether or not my arthritic hands will be functioning efficiently the morning of the service.
I have shared the passing notion that Murphy – as in “Murphy’s Law” (Anything that can go wrong, will.”) – is the name of an angel whose assignment is to keep us all humble. There’s nothing quite so humbling as trying your hardest to “do something for God” only to have it all fall apart in any and all conceivable ways, as well as some ways no one would have thought of. Then, to have it all come together through no effort of your own, showing that God was in control all along, and it wasn’t about you, anyway … well, that is indeed humbling. Bravo, Murphy.
So, as “That Sunday” approached again, I drove from Kentucky back to Michigan the Friday before, not really thinking about Sunday, but praying my usual prayers in the car and singing worship songs along with the radio and CDs, as I usually did while traveling. Saturday I went to the church office, pulled some songs I knew out of the file, went home, sung and played them on the guitar, chose four I thought would work, and started cooking dinner.
Sunday morning I headed to church, where I met Garry and his wife Debbie. Garry worked the sound while Debbie made copies of a song I had fallen in love with during the pandemic and decided to sing, even though that congregation hadn’t sung it before. We went through the songs once, and that was it. No point in wearing out my fingers before church started. We prayed, acknowledging to the Lord that this was not about us but about Him, and asking Him to use our humble gifts to glorify Himself. Just before the service started, I asked the pastor’s son if he would play tambourine for the last song, and he happily agreed to. It was a small tambourine – a toe tambourine, to be exact, but I had found that my ankle didn’t have the endurance to keep tapping it for the duration of the entire song. So, I gave it to this delightfully agreeable child, and all systems were “go.”
I can imagine that by now some reading this might be appalled at what seems like a lackadaisical approach to leading worship. Does she not love the Lord?!? Does she not care enough to take the time necessary to be prepared???
To answer that – YES, I love the Lord with all my heart. And yes, I care enough to be prepared. But over the years and at least two of “Those Sundays,” I have found that a lot of “preparing as if it depends on you,” past a certain point, can be wasted energy, because it doesn’t depend on me.
As I later considered the notion of “preparation,” I realized that I had spent time preparing – hour and hours and hours. – hours I have spent in God’s presence daily – praying, meditating on His Word, and worshiping Him with song when He was the only One who heard me singing. That Sunday I was just worshiping Him as I always did. The difference was, I was doing it in front of the church and inviting them to join me. This was not “The Annie Aschauer Show.” The focus was on Jesus, and we were all worshiping Him together.
Jesus told a parable of ten virgins, or bridesmaids, who were waiting for the bridegroom to show up. They all had lamps, but five of them had enough oil in their lamps, five didn’t. When the bridegroom showed up, the bridesmaids without oil were scrambling at the last minute to borrow from the others, but the ones who were prepared only had oil for their own lamps. The unprepared bridesmaids heard those dreaded words from the bridegroom, “I don’t know you,” and they were locked out of the wedding feast. (Matthew 25:1-12)
Now is the time for us to build intimacy with God, to fill ourselves daily with God’s presence, as we offer our lives to Him. When the Bridegroom (Jesus) shows up there won’t be time to race around trying to get a last-minute relationship with Him. Salvation may come in a moment, but intimacy only develops over years of consistent fellowship with Him.
If you don’t yet know Jesus, I want you to know that He loves you, and wants a relationship with you! Come to Him today. Confess your sin and need for Him, and you will receive new life from Him. Then begin the exciting adventure of drawing closer to Him every day.
Prayer: Lord, You have made it known what you want from us, and it’s not a performance! We offer You ourselves, our love, our very lives. Make us the people You want us to be. In Jesus’ name, amen.
P.S. Murphy did show up later that day at the grocery store. The cashier’s machine rejected my debit card twice. After various other glitches, I finally was given a receipt and got in another line at customer service to pay for my groceries.
“So, Murph’,” I asked on the way out. “Didja sleep in?“
(He didn’t answer.)