So, in the fall of 2009 I got accepted into Christ For the Nation’s Institute in the school of worship, a week before fall semester started.
I had wavered back and forth all that late summer about applying. It took watching a favorite worship artist’s testimonial about attending the school (Kari Jobe, now Carnes) for me to finally make the last minute decision to attend.
While in Hardesty, OK that summer, I had spent frequent times at the altar in my brother’s church, praying and asking God for His will regarding attending CFNI. After hearing Kari’s testimony, I felt that the Lord confirmed what He was saying to me: “This is the way, walk in it.” So, I sent in my application, and I got my acceptance, and that mid-August, my brother helped me move to Dallas, Texas with all my belongings, as his family moved further South toward Houston to pastor a new church.
It was another chapter, another new beginning, and I was hoping I made the right decision. While I was wrestling it all out, it was just like God to give me grace for the transition time.
When I got on campus, I learned I was assigned a whole apartment to myself due to my allergies to strong scents. The positive side of having my own place was that I had extra space to unpack all my stuff. My place didn’t look at all like a college dorm room. It looked like a home. With all its hominess, it became a hospitable hang-out for my colleages and I to study for our tests, to practice worship, and/or to just fellowship. That was grace.
There were also some obstacles that grace helped me to overcome with this apartment. Ironically, in spite of my allergy/breathing issues, for the first few days, I was living in an apartment that smelled like minty mildew, and I had no option of moving to another room. As a result, I had to learn to trust God with my health concerns for the school year, as I prayed for protection for my breathing. Thankfully, the smell eventually went away or was covered up by my neighbor’s cooking.
However, for some reason, I was sick that whole year at CFNI with respitory and sinus issues. In a weird way. I sense this was God’s grace, as well, keeping me in the center of His perfect will.
Nothing just happens. So, I tried to see what God was doing in that situation.
God knew I was using the rest of my teacher’s retirement to attend CFNI. He knew my heart was to grow as a worship leader. So, if I was struggling to sing in worship because of coughing and congestion, I knew He had a purpose. I had too much peace for it to be anything else, but His simple keeping hand. Many were my plans, but His purpose was about to win over it all.
At times it seemed like God didn’t want me singing on the stage at all. I sensed Him telling me not to audition. For times of uncertainty when I did, my auditions were never quite right due to those sinus/respiratory setbacks in my voice or insecurity of whether or not I was hearing and obeying God’s will.
There were so many amazing and talented worshipers around me. I wasn’t surprised that I never got picked for a worship team. But, it was the PEACE that made me realize it was God’s perfect will that I NOT be chosen to be on a team.
Instead, He wanted me to die to that performance mentality. He was asking me to walk a different way in my worship, to not stare at the stage, but to seek His face.
So, that first semester, I spent a lot of my time in the prayer room. I soon realized God was calling me to worship AND prayer. To me my personal worship times were essentially prayer times, anyway, set to music. Apparently, going to worship school only clarified that I was called to spend quality time with Jesus face to face in that secret place, ministering to Him and communing with Him in prayer. That kind of worship training didn’t require a stage, just a posture and willingness to bow my life lower and to go deeper in prayer and intercession to meet with Him.
That winter I served my worship internship in the prayer room on a team. Ironically, even on the team God was asking me to go deeper, to crucify my flesh. There were two younger girls who loved singing and worshiping who were not even studying worship leading yet. Would I be willing to pass them the mic, so they could sing and glorify God in song? Would I let them sing when I wanted to, instead?
I have to admit the Father ultimately tried my faith in these ways. I wrestled. Why couldn’t I sing? Did my voice sound bad? Why had God brought me here to worship school if He wasn’t going to let me sing? I had to die to these insecurities to obey God when I didn’t understand. I felt God’s peace and knew I could trust Him. But crucifying my flesh was a process. I wrestled for several weeks with insecurity.
Then one evening God showed me His purpose. Our keyboard player on the team was missing. Would I fill in for him? I’d never played keys with a band before. I was stretched in my faith. But, that night, I trusted God and stepped out in faith to do something I had always wanted to do. I played the keys that night. WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!
God showed me that if I’m willing, He can use me whenever and wherever He needs me. I just need to always trust Him and have faith to say yes when He leads me.
I learned that fall semester more practically that worship isn’t about the stage or the mic. Worship is only and always about seeking God and honoring and obeying Him, growing closer to Him in Spirit and Truth.
It’s amazing to me that this was yet only the beginning of what He had planned in the days ahead. A new chapter would begin that winter, as well.