Saturday, June 3, 2023

Pout or Praise?

On a recent Sunday afternoon, I came home from worship service completely exhausted, and all I wanted to do was put on some comfortable sweats and take a nap. By the next day, after waking with a sore throat, I put two and two together to realize that my body had begun fighting some sort of bug that had been going around. I went on to work but had a repeat of the prior days' fatigue and for the next three days found myself down for the count. I was home from work, Bible Study, rehearsal, and prayer services with chills but oddly no fever, a sore throat, a terrible headache, sweats, and little to no appetite. Thankfully, the COVID tests were negative, and several people that I had talked with all told me the same thing: There's something going around, so rest, take care of yourself, and let me/us know if you need any.

Near the end of the week, I finally started to feel better. The chills and headache had disappeared, as did the sore throat. My appetite slowly returned, but with that, something else unwelcomed showed up: The cough. As a praise and worship leader, coughing is one of my worst enemies. Further, in this post-COVID-emergency time, any cough at all is enough to garner the side-eye and people moving to the opposite side of the room. I had already missed services the week before, and had hoped that by Sunday, the cough would have subsided at least enough for me to sing. During praise and worship, I found myself constantly fighting the urge to cough or clear my throat, relying on the Lord to get me through to the end of that part of the service.

After the Praise and Worship Team was released to change out of our choir robes, I headed straight to the restroom where I immediately experienced one of the worst coughing bouts of my life. I was thankful to have made it through the singing, and thankful to have experienced the coughing spell AFTER praise and worship because the toll it took on my voice was part two of a three-week test of my faith and my emotions. For the next two days, I had almost no voice at all. Whenever I would try to speak, my lips would move but almost no words would come out (unfortunately, this caused me to give a coworker quite a startle because she didn't hear me say that I was behind her before she turned around).

The following couple of days, I continued to rest after work, drank tea with honey, took care of my throat, and tried not to talk, with the hope that at least my singing voice would return. By Wednesday, though I knew I was not going to sing again yet, I was excited about being back in church for Bible Study. That evening, as I settled into my car, I attempted to start the engine, and at first nothing happened except that all the dash lights came on. I turned the power off, waited for a moment, then tried a second time. This time, the engine turned over, but nearly every light on the dash came on and stayed on, including some warning lights that I had never seen before. After one more attempt, the lights were back to normal, but something didn't sound right when I pulled out of the parking space. Erring on the side of caution, I contacted my church admin and team, then went back into the house, where I would participate in Bible Study remotely.

As I watched praise and worship by live-stream, my heart was heavy with frustration. I started off with less than half-hearted praise because suddenly even my TV connection wouldn't work. Standing in my living room as I would have had I been in the sanctuary, something beautiful happened. It was as though God was telling me that I needed to praise Him regardless of how I felt, and even more than praise, I needed to worship Him, again, regardless of how I felt. As I stood there, I lifted my hands, closed my eyes, and allowed my spirit to worship along with the Praise and Worship Team, and before I knew it, tears were flowing down my face as I thanked the Lord over and over. My spirit was being refreshed in a way that I can't explain, and all I felt was the inexplicable love of God filling my room.

Continuing in my worship, still crying, I asked the Lord why He loves me, why He loves me so much, despite all the mistakes I have made, all the sins I have committed, all the times He told me to do something and I didn't do it. I believe His response was this: When a parent has a child, that child will do things that will disappoint, upset, hurt, anger, and frustrate the parent. However, no matter what, that parent does not stop loving the child.

As the daughter of the King, God, my Heavenly Father, promised me in Romans 8:38-39 that "that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

I still often have to remind myself that nothing I have done, am doing, or will do, can ever surprise or disappoint God because He knows everything that I have done, am doing, and will ever do. All I can do is continue to try to make the right choices and decisions, even though I know that as a human being putting forth my best efforts, I will still make mistakes and fall short. Yet, I will never stop trying to glorify God, nor will I ever stop loving and serving Him.

I don't know for sure why the recent events took place. I have, however, learned that sometimes when I allow my life to get "too busy" especially for God, He will allow or maybe even cause me to slow down, or to stop. I have also learned that sometimes He will allow or maybe even cause something to happen to keep me FROM something. Only God knows why my car malfunctioned when it did. Rather than pout and feel sorry for myself, I chose to thank God for what He potentially kept me from, then praise Him because of Who He is!