Then Sings My Soul

One day last week I was emailing with a friend who’s on the worship staff at our church, and she mentioned, sort of off-handedly, that the praise team wouldn’t be singing in church Sunday because we were having a “spoken word” service.

“Spoken word” service?

I’m sorry?

Um, NO MUSIC?

Because I know I’ve only mentioned it, like, 74 times, but I’m a person who totally worships through music. It gets to me, way down deep, in the places that words alone have a hard time reaching.

So while I should probably be embarrassed to tell you this, I’ll just go ahead and confess: I wasn’t looking forward to church yesterday. I was dreading not being able to sing. I was concerned that our time in “big church,” which typically runs about an hour and a half, was going to creeeeeeep by. That I would look down at my watch, convinced that we’d been there for two hours, and find that it had been more like fifteen minutes.

I was apprehensive, is what I’m sayin’.

When church started at nine, there was a bit of instrumental music. No singing. I’m pretty sure that I was jiggling my leg out of sheer discomfort. Two people walked out on the stage, and they took turns reciting – from memory – a passage from Pslams. They were followed by three more people. Who were followed by three more people. The Speakers ranged in age from about eight to about eighty – and while it took me a little while to get past being nervous for them as they recited Scripture and occasionally struggled with a word or phrase, I eventually started to soak up the Message instead of being worried for the messengers.

But I was still a little squirmy – couldn’t we sing, you know, just a little bit? Just a smidge?

About that time, eight people walked down the steps at the front of the stage, and they began to recite a passage from Proverbs – only not in English. We heard part of the passage in Spanish, part in German, then Russian, French, Filipino, Swahili, Hebrew and Thai. And while I would love to be able to explain what happened in my heart during those three or four minutes – I just can’t do it. Words fail me. It was an unbelievably moving reminder of the power of God’s Word.

Color me surprised. :-)

Because here’s the deal. I do a pretty good job of keeping God’s Word hidden in my heart. I think, over the last six or seven years, I’ve developed an understanding of why that’s so essential. I believe Him, I trust Him, I love Him, and I need His Word – all the time.

But sometimes, in worship, I get it backwards. Sometimes, in worship, I get it all wrong. Maybe it’s because I find myself more interested in what we’re singing than what God’s saying. Maybe it’s because I respond more to my emotion than I do to His Truth. Maybe it’s because, in a way, I worship a god I’ve created instead of The God who created the universe, The God who created me.

But I’ll tell you: listening to God’s Word for an hour and a half has a way of snapping all that stuff right back into perspective.

So while my mouth didn’t get to do any singing yesterday, my spirit did. And next week, when we sing again, I pray my focus won’t be on how we worship – I pray it’ll be on Who we worship. I pray that when I start to fall back into my “OH I LOVE THIS SONG” tendency, that the Holy Spirit would prick my heart and remind me that without the One who first loved us, there would be no song to sing.

And I missed the music yesterday. I really did.

But, in this particular instance, taking away the music enabled me to hear the message – and The Message – loud and clear.

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Comments

  1. Wow, I’ve never heard of that! Must have been an awesome experience hearing the Word of God spoken in all those languages!

  2. “Maybe it’s because I respond more to my emotion than I do to His Truth.”
    I think MANY of us have gotten to a place in our worship where this is true.
    “Maybe it’s because, in a way, I worship a god I’ve created instead of The God who created the universe, The God who created me.”
    Okay, now you’re stepping on my toes. Yes, sometimes the temptation is great to worship a god that I want to worship and what I want him to be — instead of someone who will tell me, “My ways are NOT your ways.”

    I would love to attend a service like that — but, yes, I would MISS the music. But, oh, to hear my heart sing!

  3. I pray that when I start to fall back into my “OH I LOVE THIS SONG” tendency, that the Holy Spirit would prick my heart and remind me that without the One who first loved us, there would be no song to sing.

    Boomama, I always love your honesty and openness. I can be so guilty of worshipping in church and thinking about the songs instead of the God who allows me to sing in the first place. Great post.

  4. I’m not going to pretend I know just what you experienced yesterday. I don’t. But I listened to your pastor preach and I am astounded that he is so young and so wise. What a blessing your church family and leadership must be. I also love to sing in church but I’d gladly have my soul sing instead.

  5. MicheleinNZ says:

    That sounds like something that happened at the church in the UK where Matt Redman was attending (working?) It’s how the song Heart of Worship was written “When the music fades, all is stripped away, and I simply come… longing just to bring something that’s of worth, that will bless Your heart…” From what I understand they went through a season with no music at their church because they felt that it was becoming a performance for the congregation rather than an offering to the Audience of One. And during this time, Matt wrote that song.

    And we are now big fans of sweet tea. My husband thinks it’s, like, the perfect drink.

  6. I would love to attend a service like that. Must have been awesome!

  7. Boomama I listened to your preachers sermon tonight and he is really good. Tomorrow I will listen to some more of his sermons that you have on that site. Thanks for putting those up there.
    mouse

  8. Thank you for posting these thoughts–very timely for me ’cause our worship leader led his last service at my church on Sun. I sing with him, so I cried…and cried some more…

    God’s Word reigns.

  9. “I’ll bring you more than a song, for a song in itself is not what you have required. You search much deeper within through the way things appear, you’re looking into my heart. I’m coming back to the heart of worship ’cause it’s all about You…all about You, Jesus.” The Heart of Worship – M. Redman.
    It is funny how similar we are. I am actually a guitar player/worship leader for my church and while leading, I rarely struggle with the surface-y type issues but MAN when I am in the congregation, I am forever battling the mind with “Oh, I don’t like this song” or “They need to play this song faster” or ” Oooh, I love that guitar riff, how’d he do that?”
    Your experience with the Word was a good reminder to me as well. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Mmmm….good post. We oft need to be stretched to exercise ‘listening’. Sometimes, we can get caught up in the ‘extras’ surrounding the sermon..good post. I’ll be checking in regularly!

  11. Boomama,
    Thank you soooooooo much for that post (and all the others,too). When you said that they began to quote scripture in other languages, my heart wanted to explode. I’ve heard kids praying in Swahili and native tongues when I went to Uganda in 2001. Talk about awesome. I would’ve definitely had myself “some kind of fit”.

    I am a musician. From the moment my eyes open to the time they close, I’m singing or humming or playing music. That’s just who I am. God has blessed me with that.

    I’m also a teacher. I love The Word. Can’t get enough. Can’t listen to enough good preaching. Just can’t.

    In the days just before this post, I was informed by my mother (our State Ladies Aux. President) that there had been some people back out of doing what they’d committed themselves to do for the fall ladies retreat (in 1-1/2 weeks). There were some things that needed to be done, but with everything else that she needed to do, she couldn’t do it all. I told her that I would help her plan a “worship service” for the Saturday morning service.

    We spend a LOT of time in prayer at these retreats, but just to have the opportunity to hear scripture that Speaks to you like that – WOW! We sing a LOT at these things, too.

    I’ve been struggling with how to start working on this project. (I do only have a little over a week. If I’d had more time, this wouldn’t be quite soooooo hard.) This has given me a really good idea. I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide me with what to “give” these ladies out of His Word.

    Thank you for being so open.

  12. ….maybe it’s because I respond more to my emotion than I do to HIS truth… now, that’s a ZINGER>….I am so in agreement with you on that one. That must have been one terrific service! And thanks for sharing, because it is such a good reminder that’s it’s REALLY not about me.

  13. I’m a huge fan of the power of worshiping through song. I’ve been a choir memeber myself more than once. And yet, I’m intrigued by this concept of a mass (just one) with no music, only spoken words. I love the idea of those words being spoken in many languages! What a powerful message!

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I may go talk to my priest about this one and see if they’ve ever done anything like this.

  14. Wow, that’s a great idea your church had. Praise God it touched you in the way it did to return to your first love… Jesus.

  15. That sounds incredible. surprising, but incredible.

  16. We had a young gentleman read a psalm in russian during one of our services about a month ago.

    the power of hearing the Word spoken with such fervency and knowing that despite I understood none of it, it was still holy was a ground shattering experience for me.

    I still get goosebumps thinking about it.

  17. I’m sooo there with you ’bout the whole “worshipping in song” deal. What a great story- Thanks for sharing AND for the links… Next time I am in B’ham (aunt lives there) I may just have to come check it out!

  18. Thanks for sharing your heart, since I know many of us can relate. I get too wrapped up in “ooo– maybe i can sing harmony like I heard on the radio” and get too focused on what I sound like, not what I’m singing. Great post.

  19. I would miss my music sooooo much! It so often takes me right to the throne room. I can see those angel flying around, I can see the elders there worshiping, I can see myself saying I’m a unclean man(woman)of unclean lips.

    Okay, maybe scripture could do that, too.

  20. On of the things I love about our church is that the entire service is designed to be a prayer. That’s just the way the Catholic liturgy is – Jesus said “My house should be a house of prayer.” And much of our music is Scripture put to song. However, it’s the words we should be listening to, not the music, but like you, I do often think, “Oh, I love this song.” Many times, though, it’s the words that touch my heart. My daughter laughs because there are many, many of our hymns that make me cry because of the love of God is so evident. There’s a song I LOVE which we don’t sing often, but is from the Book of Hosea – the chorus says, “Long have I waited for your coming home to me and living deeply our new life.” And I can just FEEL God’s love for us as He waits for us to come home to Him, and I tear up every time. It’s the words that are important!

  21. I will pass this on to our worship pastor – incredible idea.

  22. Awesome realization, BooMoma. I know you’re not the only one who gets distracted from the Whom we praise, by the how we praise Him. Sounds like a pivotal Sunday.

  23. Great post! I agree, sometimes it’s easy to fall into the routine and not think about why we are doing what we’re doing! I’m glad God spoke to you through this!

  24. BooMama,

    I’ve been lurking for a while and just had to comment (Don’t remember how I found you but sure glad I did.)

    This is such a great idea. I can totally relate to getting distracted by how we worship instead of Who we worship.

    Powerful stuff! However should this surprise us since it is God’s Word you were hearing instead of someone else’s words with God’s message in it.

    Z

  25. BooMama,

    I think I would’ve been as nervous as you. We just finished a study on the Five Love Languages of God by Gary Chapman (great study!), and one thing I learned is that we tend to worship God according to our own love language…though we need to worship Him in all 5. Words of Affirmation is my primary love language, so that’s why worshipping through music is when I feel closest to God. BUT, I’m called to a relationship with Him through all 5 languages…quality time (prayer), acts of service (self explanatory), words of affirmation (praise), physical touch (ministering to others), gifts (again, self-explanatory).

    I bet it was an amazing experience…but I, too, would’ve cringed at first.

    Thanks for your honesty!

  26. I’m with you…the music touches me deep, where the words sometimes fail to. And maybe you’re right…it should be less about the song and more about the words in my heart. Thanks so much for sharing.

  27. Wow, this is the first time I’ve visited your site and I love this post. I’m a music and arts director (arts includes drama and reader’s theater) at a large church and we have meetings every week to plan services that reach people like that one reached you. I’m going to give this idea to the pastor. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  28. I would so love to visit your church.

  29. BooMama,

    I loved your post. I love reading your blog. Thanks for helping me reflect on how I worship. :o)

    Silvana

  30. How AWESOME! I would love to have been there!

  31. Boomama!!! What a testament to pushing ourselves OUT of our comfort zones so that God can BLESS us!! I LOVE the idea of the “spoken word” service and can’t WAIT to use it in our own church!!! THANKS!

  32. What an amazing ministry!!!

  33. Wow! What you said at the end really challenged me. Thanks!

  34. anonymous says:

    thank you, what an encouragement to my heart and spirit.

  35. I have to remind myself all the time that worship doesn’t have anything to do with music! But oh how I love the effect it has on me.

    Thanks for the reminder of the importance of worshipping our Creator. Very well said! It sounds like a wonderful service. We need to change things up sometimes – it’s refreshing!

  36. I think you’ve really hit on it. So often, we become more absorbed in our experience than actually worshipping, and worshipping in spirit and in truth.