One of my absolute favorite things to do in the whole world is worship the Lord. It’s been a passion of mine since I was a little girl. Music has always been my gateway to the Father, it’s where I hear Him the most, it’s how I discipline my heart and my mind to focus on Him. Leading worship was a really big deal in my life for many many years. It was what defined me, where I found my identity, until the day the Father showed me that it was only something that I did and not who I was.
This has been a truth that my husband and I have had to recognize repeatedly over the years, that we are not defined by the things we do, the things we are good at, or even the things we are called to. We are defined as sons of God, and nothing we do will ever cause us to rise higher or be more valuable than that. Unfortunately, it takes time to come to this realization, and in the meantime we can devalue ourselves by being defined by all of those things, rather than by who we are, and as broken people, we tend to project this on to others as well, looking for what they have to offer us, rather than receiving the gift that is simply them.
A few years ago, Rocky and I attended a worship conference with Brian and Jenn Johnson from Bethel in Redding, CA. We had been at one other gathering where they led worship and were blown away by the way the Holy Spirit moved through them in worship. This time was no different. Our hearts resonated so deeply with the way Brian and Jenn spoke, sung and led us into the presence of the Lord. It was the kind of worship that Rocky and I love to lead and be a part of. During this particular event, Rocky pushed me to go to Jenn for prayer. That kind of thing makes me really uncomfortable. I didn’t feel a pressing need in my life, but he was pretty insistent that i needed to ask her to pray for me. I made my way up to the front where she was praying over some people and I thought, “Well maybe she’ll impart some anointing on me or something.” We had been feeling frustrated in all of our avenues for leading because we didn’t have the freedom to lead the way we love to. Maybe Jenn would have something brilliant to say like, “Oh, why don’t you move to Redding and lead one of our services! We have an opening,” and upon hearing that, I might just feel that Holy Spirit tug and fall to my face in surrender. (Ha.)
I approached her nervously and told her that my husband had sent me up there. I started to say, “We lead worship a lot like you guys do –” when she stopped me and said, “Don’t tell me everything.” I remember her saying something like, “there’s no fun in that,” but I’m not sure if I tacked that on in my head or if she actually said it. She proceeded to pray over me and heard from the Lord about something that seemed completely unrelated to leading worship. It was a strange experience and I walked away wondering what the point of it was. When I shared with Rocky what Jenn had said, he was excited because he had heard the same thing. Maybe I was simply a conduit for his faith to grow. I’m still not sure, but her words have definitely stayed with me and offered encouragement to both of us over the years.
Where am I going with this? Well, for the past few months I’ve been listening to some Bethel albums during my quiet times with the Lord. I love to worship along with these songs, and I have a healthy respect for Jenn and the way the Lord moves through her. Because Rocky and I aren’t actively leading worship right now, I’ve been in a strange place of craving more intimate times of worship, pressing in to His presence on my own and receiving from Him what I can’t get during a twenty minute worship set at a fellowship. He is dealing with my heart on a lot of issues during these times, many of them I’ve shared here.
Last night I dreamed that I got to spend a day with Jenn Johnson. She was sweet and funny and kind, and the whole time I kept thinking to myself, “I need to tell her that I sing. I need to tell her that I’m a worship leader.” But even as I had those thoughts, I remembered her saying, “Don’t tell me everything,” and knew that bringing it up would cheapen our time together. As if I were split in two, there was part of me that wanted her to know that we could relate to each other because we both do the same thing. I wanted her to see me as important because of what I could do. The other part of me said, “but she already sees you as important. Look, she’s spending this whole day with you just because she wants to.”
When I remembered the dream this morning, I felt kind of giddy. Spending a day with Jenn Johnson? Yes please. I would love to sit with her and learn from her and tell her how much her ministry has touched my life, and then to have her encourage me and tell me I’m awesome and valuable because I’m such a great worship leader . . . It didn’t take long for me to come to the conclusion that the Father was speaking to me about my value. “You are valuable because of who you are, not because of what you do.”
I’m not totally sure why He used this woman that I look up to so much, maybe because I have placed her on a pedestal and actually value her because of what she can do. I don’t know her at all, I’ve only had about a three minute interaction with her ever, though she leads me in worship almost every single day. I think on some level I’m envious of her position and what she gets to do on a regular basis. She gets to lead people into the intimate presence of the Lord and then gets to stay there for longer than twenty minutes. At least that’s what I imagine about her, and it’s what I long for, which is a totally different topic.
Today the issue is one of value. I heard someone say once, “The Father can not love you any more than He already does right now.” He already loves us to capacity. His love bank is completely tapped out on us already. We can’t do anything to earn more of His love, we are loved simply because we are. If I did nothing but sit here on this chair for the rest of my life, He wouldn’t love me any less. My value to the world doesn’t come in the shape of skills and calling. It comes in the shape of me. I am God’s gift to the world (Ha!), but so are you. You alone, just the way you are right now.
What do you think other people value about you? What have you allowed to define your value to the world? I pray that the Father begins to speak to you about where your true value lies: simply within you, starting from the moment you took your first breath.
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