I am so ugly when it comes to being a musician. I am envious, competitive, falsely humble, prideful, insecure, needy, perfectionistic, critical, and selfish. All of these horrible things have taken root in my heart far more often than I care to admit. I mean, I really struggle with these things. It seems as though whenever I pick up the guitar, it is a constant battle in my soul to fight for the truth of what I do. A war to allow God to bring out the Christ in me…true humility. Servanthood. Sacrifice. Denial of self. A desire to give Him ALL glory and reserve none for myself. Because I KNOW the only good that is in me is really Him. Any good ability I have to play the guitar does not come from me, in fact, I am nothing apart from Him. Without Him, I am a branch without its tree. A branch destined to wither and die, worthy of nothing except to be burned in the fire. Occasionally, I “get” that. I sometimes know that truth in my inmost place.
I remember one of these moments, ages ago, when I was serving at the West Campus. Daniel and Leanne Vencil were leading, and we were doing Tim Hughes’ version of “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”
Something divine happened that morning. Something came into focus with us and our band. We glimpsed a picture bigger than ourselves. We were not focused on us, not focused on our own presence or our own part in worship, but focused on the living Christ. We were not worried about notes or chords or intros or transitions, only overwhelmed by the holy truth we sang about Jesus. The Spirit filled us. And through us came this picture of bittersweet wonder at Him on the cross.
See from His head, His hands, His feet, Sorrow and love flow mingled down! Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
And the beauty of it, the love and the life of it, the magnitude of what it means for our lives, brought us low.
Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were an offering far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.
And the unmistakable response was gratitude, lifting our voices to sing:
Thank you for the cross!!! I Thank you for the Cross!! I Thank you for the Cross my Lord….
Leanne sang as though with an angel’s voice. We played as though already in Heaven, for our savior who stood before us in all His glory, the train of His robe filling the room. And our tears poured down as freely as the streams of His love in the deepest darkest, desert places of our souls. Through this music, we lifted up our thankfulness, our soul’s satisfaction, our life’s purpose, for the love and the blood and the power and the glory of Jesus Christ.
THAT’S the kind of worship I want to do. That’s the kind of worship I want to help others do!!! In my guitar playing, I long for a complete denial of self and a complete encompassing of Jesus. I am fighting for this. I am sick of wanting people to see me, I want them to see CHRIST. I yearn for the day when I no longer struggle with selfishness in my gift. What a petty thing to stand in the way of the living God. I want to put to death this sin and self, and bring to life a more complete, pure devotion to Jesus.