I am a fearful person.
I’m afraid of a lot of stuff – rejection, talentless-ness, failure, death, being alone, being with someone, paying bills, getting jobs, being ordinary, deep water, change, raising dumb children (and I don’t even have children!).
And that’s just the easily-described stuff.
It sounds crazy. It sounds like I’m hopelessly crippled with fear, and while I assure you that my day-to-day life is rarely hindered by my fears (i.e. I am just as sane as you are), I am still bothered by the darkness inside of me. The same darkness in all of us, I imagine. Some are better at giving it to God than are others – I’m definitely one of those people who basically suck at trusting God a lot of the time.
But I’m sort of sick of that. I’m sort of sick of being afraid.
Tonight – God broke into my fear. Finally, I listened to Him.
New Life Worship, a team from Colorado, came to my school for a worship conference this weekend. I was so excited today, because I knew there would be a worship concert tonight. I needed this.
How selfish a statement is that? I needed this worship time. As if the worship was for me.
But I think God was working in my excitement today. Lately I’ve been… Distracted. Caught up in myself. Wallowing. Distant. I was excited because I knew worshiping would make me feel better, but all along God was preparing me to come into His presence and for once think of something other than myself. He knew my selfish motives. But He wanted me to come to Him anyway.
I like how God wants us anyway. No one else wants the way He wants. His divine jealousy for my soul is astounding and indescribable.
I was planning on going to the concert all day today, but everyone I talked to about it seemed busy with other things – homework, mostly, which is what my friends are always busy with. I’m quite happy to have hard-working friends who insist on doing homework on many Friday nights. I, however, hate starting off the weekend with homework, and thankfully I am a communications major, so I rarely have to. It seemed like I would be going to the concert solo – slightly depressing, to say the least. But God prodded me along anyway, and He graciously led me to one of my friends and the girls who live with her.
God planned my company.
Then we sang. Oh, we sang. The worship team was one of the most humble I’ve ever seen, and the choir of college students behind them – some of the most genuine, beautiful worshipers.
Do you ever watch people praise God? I do – all the time. I’m sure it probably looks pretty creepy to someone else: it’s one of those really intense bridges in a song, when half the people are stretching into the air, reaching to God, and everyone’s eyes are closed, and then there’s me, eyes wide open, whipping my head around, staring at people who aren’t seeing me back. I have this goofy smile on my face and I am sure I look ridiculous, but I love it. If I catch someone’s eye, I immediately return to Socially Acceptable Christian Worship Pose. But only until they get lost in God again.
That’s part of what I did tonight – I watched the choir. I picked out people I didn’t know and I learned what words made them beam, what chords caused their arms to rise, what rhythms made them jump and clap. I thanked God for these people who seemed to want Him in a way I tried to want Him. I asked God to heal the rifts in their hearts like I wanted Him to heal mine. Some of the worshipers I did know, or at least I’d seen them around, and I thought of all I knew about them and all I didn’t know about them and all I wanted to learn about them and all I’d never guess about them. I thought about the great oceans that rage inside of people, souls of immeasurable depths that God saw and lived in and loved.
Then God would hit me, and up my arms would go (which, even after almost two years in a Baptist school, is still a bit uncomfortable for this Methodist girl), and I would shut my eyes to the world and let Him sing to me.
“Stop thinking so much,” He would whisper.
I just praised Him. Not because it made me feel good. But because I wanted to show Him I loved Him too. It was like I had to do something in return for all the grace He’s bathed me in. Even though I will never come close to repaying Him, and even though the only thing He asks of me is… Me.
We had a time of prayer in the middle of the service. And this time, I really prayed. I didn’t let my mind wander away, the way it so often does. I talked to Him and I listened to Him. I let myself go, lost myself in who He is. He asked for my fear. I told Him I wanted to give it to Him. He reminded me that His love is perfect and it makes fear vanish. He reminded me that He is Peace. We talked about my stage combat class, the one I was so afraid of and yet so drawn to, so intimidated by and yet so empowered by. He told me that I was getting good at pretend violence, which is a weird thing for God to say, but I think maybe He was trying to make me laugh. Then He showed me that my fear is like a battle, like a combat scene, but real, not theatrics. It was a war already He had already won, but a battle that I insisted on fighting by myself anyway. He said I didn’t need to do that. He said He had already given me a warrior spirit, that He makes it possible for me to not be afraid. Because He takes those fears away.
I don’t always talk with God the way I talked to Him tonight. But I like it. I need it.
The band started playing A Camp Song. Of course, it’s a normal-life song to normal-life people. But once you sing a song to the tune of one guitar and a bunch of birds and under a setting sun on a summer evening (and then do it about fifty thousand more times the same way), it is always A Camp Song.
They started singing it and I laughed. Audibly. One short, hearty “HA.” In the dang middle of Intense Prayer Time. It was totally not even a “HA.” sort of song.
You dance over me/While I am unaware.
I laughed because there He was. God, right there, affirming my worth and my safety and my freedom, with a song that meant more to me than anyone could know.
The worship band did what worship bands do and transitioned effortlessly into a few increasingly up-tempo, victorious-type songs to round off the evening. I did my looking-around thing again, and everyone was joyful. I saw a boy in the choir put his hands behind his head, grin, and then look down at his shoes as if the glory he knew was around him was too much to take in. I saw an old man jumping straight up and down. I saw a girl in the balcony twirling in circles and laughing. I reached my hands up to God like a little child begging to be swept into her daddy’s arms and I thought, “If this is what it is like to praise You in a broken world, I cannot wait to praise you in Heaven.”
Tomorrow, I will have to ask God to make me fearless again. And then every morning after that, and probably multiple times a day, I will have to keep asking Him.
But He wants me. And tonight I was reminded of how awesome it is to want Him back.