I've been waiting for Sunday for a long time.
I know plenty of people who have been in this position - people who have a lot of faith, but it gets tested by something and they find themselves waiting.
Waiting for a Sunday full of life.
Waiting for a Sunday when they believe 100% what they've always said they believe.
Waiting for a Sunday full of trust.
Waiting for a Sunday when they don't walk through the doors of God's house with a load of hurt feelings and accusations.
Waiting. Waiting for the good to grow right up out of the dark of our human confusion.
Here's the thing: We don't have to time to wait until we're better or perfect or even to wait until we understand . . .
"If you tarry till you're better, you will never come at all." It's not a matter of being well enough to meet God. It's a matter of being honest with God and other people about where we are. I've always loved this hymn tune because it says the truth so plainly.
Musicians get their feelings hurt so easily. We're an extremely defensive and insecure lot. Some musicians might read this and feel indignant. I don't mean it badly. I'm just being honest. Church musicians do confusing work. They offer up a "talent" that is supposed to be an expression of worship to God. And they offer a service to other human beings in the act of leading and teaching. Teaching music itself and sometimes teaching about the Bible or faith through music. But all of it starts with this perception of "having" a "talent."
Sometimes I like to take the pressure off myself by praying to God before a gig or a service something like this: God, thank you for the gift of your creativity through music. Please be present in my hands, my voice, and my mind so that your creativity can be at work in this music today. I know that it belongs to you and that I belong to you. Thank you.
It does wonders for my nerves, but it does something even bigger than that.
It reminds me that I am not . . . and I "have" not - but God is. And God "has."
When I say that I am not being self deprecating. I am giving credit where credit is due. Now, if we're talking about technical skill or academic work, I am more than happy to talk about my practice or my skill in terms of the work I've done. But if we're talking about music offered up or taught for the purpose of worship, my skill and my confidence are not important. My opinion of myself has no place at all in that situation.
This is where we get caught up. And we hurt ourselves. And we hurt other people. Because we forget that our purpose is to be of service and we begin to search for ways to puff ourselves up. Our words become sharp edged. Our intentions are clouded. Our judgement is harsh.
Jesus gave His spirit over to God. And gave His body over to us. Jesus did the work of living it out - this servanthood. Think about what Jesus knew. Jesus knew what would be done to Him. Jesus knew that ultimately we would not trust Him. Jesus knew that His humility would offend us in our pride and that it would terrify a government ruled by the idea of conformity and domination. He knew that He would be less beautiful and powerful looking than what the people were begging for - a king fit for a human government. As it happens, a king fit for a spiritual revolution is less clean and genteel than people were prepared to accept.
Jesus, who had the giftedness of God Almighty, lived humility and servanthood to the infinite degree and faced the ultimate plight of the ultimate altruist - He died at the hands of the people He was serving. He gave them everything, including His own life.
I'm just a person and I will never be able to get all the way past my ego - not during this life, anyway. But sometimes I get this awesome (and I don't use that word lightly) glimpse of the glory we have access to when we lay aside our fear, defensiveness, and pride.
I've been waiting for a Sunday for months now. Waiting for a Sunday when I can get past a deep hurt. Waiting for a Sunday when I can lay aside a human pain to focus on a Divine communication.
You know, when I get over this season, there will be another . . . and another . . . and another. As it turns out, this is something we call "life."
My grandfather read the Big Book and prayed the Serenity Prayer. Many, many, many times over. And sometimes even still those words come back. And they are good words. They're words for anybody anywhere who is addicted to Facebook. Or addicted to validation from others. Or addicted to worry. Or addicted to . . . anything. They are good words for anybody trying to overcome our human bent on creating and worshiping idols . . . and idols aren't necessarily golden cows. Idols are things we allow to control our lives. Things we allow to rule us.
God, grant me the clarity of your vision. Grant me your divine rebelliousness so that I can take my heart out of the world and bury it in your hands. Grant me Serenity, Courage, and Wisdom, so that I can see other people and be vulnerable and humble in my daily living . . . so that I can grow the way you meant for me to grow.
Yes, Jesus did saving work on the cross. Jesus did more saving work than we give Him credit for. It wasn't just a matter of dying and being resurrected, folks. Every detail, every word - all of it points to the pattern of life we're designed to imitate. And it's so beautiful, so vulnerable, and so humble. The power in that meekness is so intense that we are afraid to look right at it.
I am praying hard that tomorrow we all experience a sense of Resurrection. Resurrection!!! Life where there was no life! And today? I am praying hard that we will have the courage to look straight at the saving work of Jesus and that we would have the wisdom to accept it for what it is - a path to humble, powerful, exciting, fully human life.
From one church musician to anybody who reads this: We don't have anybody to impress. There is nobody we need to be better than. We just need to be ourselves. We can relax into that. And we can have a Sunday. An Easter Sunday.