Sunday, February 19, 2012

Purpose in Preparation

This last week, I was really feeling somewhat spiritually dry and in need of refreshment from the Lord. You know those times where it feels like obedience is a burden rather than a joy? I was pleading with the Lord to restore my joy in obedience to Him... that I wouldn't see His commands as burdensome (because they aren't). It's the difference between head knowledge and practical application. I know God's ways are always best. I know that obeying Him will always give me the fullest joy and yet I was attempting obedience on my own strength rather than relying on the joy of the Lord as my strength. It's not fun (just in case you were wondering).

There is nothing like reading the Word with a desire to learn and obey everything that He has to show us for the day. When we are reading out of obligation or just to check it off our check list for the day, it is not in any way joyous and actually, it can harden our hearts toward the Lord. I'm not advising that any of us stop reading the Word when we don't feel like it; His Word can change our feelings! But, we do need to be reading with the desire to be molded and shaped by Him. Only He can give that desire and only He can renew that desire when we don't "feel like it".

Yesterday morning, I spent some time in the Word and pulled out my guitar... closed my door and just played and sang to the Lord. No distractions... no people to please... no other things pressing on my mind... just time with Him. The Lord answered that my pleads for restoration of joy in Him. He also showed me something about preparation. You see, I have a the blessing and privilege of being able to play guitar at church. I enjoy it greatly and find that I can often worship Him with more of me when I am playing than when I am just singing. I do realize that it is a heart condition, not an action thing, but some things draw my heart to worship and playing piano or guitar is one of those things that really helps in drawing my heart to worship. One of the elders and I usually play together, but he has been taking some time off. He is extremely talented and really could have gone professional if he wanted to. He is amazing. I kind of relied on some of his amazingness and didn't feel as "responsible" to have to play everything just right. Now that I am the only one playing, I feel a greater responsibility to play well so as to not distract from worship. Let's face it... when people play or sing wrong notes, people notice and it distracts from worship.

I generally do not spend a lot of time preparing to play on Sunday. The Lord has blessed me with being able to play by ear and so I generally kind of wing it on Sunday. We have practice before church, but outside of that, I don't practice a lot. What the Lord revealed to me is this: with the increased awareness of my responsibility to play right, I was losing the heart of worship. Yes, I wanted to please Him by playing well, but in doing so, I wasn't able to focus on the words we were singing. If I had prepared better, playing would have been easy and natural and I would have been free to worship with all of me... not distracted by the weight of having to play right.

All that to say, I am so thankful for the Lord in showing me the purpose behind preparation. It's hard to spend lots of time preparing when I know I can "wing it" without a noticeable problem. The problem is when it starts affecting my heart... when my lack of preparation turns into distraction from worship in my own heart. I'd be better off not playing at all. God wants hearts that are fully His, not distracted ones no matter how "good" we sound. That's not what God looks at. He looks at the heart.

I have two big things to be thankful for this week:

1) Renewed joy in the Lord and in obedience to Him.
2) Renewed purpose in preparing to help lead His people in worship.

4 comments:

amy said...

Daniel,

I came across your blog through the Rebelution forum somewhat recently, and have found your posts to be very profitable! This one especially resounded on two fronts for me. I find myself in a Spiritually dry time and I also because I play violin for our church each week and have fallen into that habit of rarely practicing ahead of time. Thanks for the good reminders here on both accounts!

Daniel Osborne said...

Amy,

I'm glad to hear that it was an encouragement to me. I am so thankful for God's faithfulness in His pursuit of my heart being fully His. He is strong when we are weak. Keep pressing on in your violin playing for His glory so that you can truly worship Him in spirit and in truth.

God bless,
Daniel Osborne

amy said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Daniel!

Surely, the Lord deserves such thanksgiving for the unrelenting grace shown toward His people!

Also, I was wondering if you would mind if I left a added a link to your site on my blog? (http://proverbs31ten.wordpress.com/family-friends/)

Daniel Osborne said...

That would be fine. :)

God bless!