Many people don’t know this about me, but back in the seventies, I used to play lead guitar and provide vocals for Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band, as well as a few other rock groups like Lenard Skynard, Aerosmith, Styx and Jethro Tull.
Later, I played with the likes of Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson and Queen. People don’t know this because most of these collaborations took place in the privacy of my bedroom or car. For the record, I was great!
Most of us don’t have a problem singing along with a favorite CD or a catchy tune on the car radio when we are alone. How many times have you glanced over at a car stopped next to you at a traffic light and caught the driver singing his heart out while “playing” the steering wheel or dashboard? You laugh a little, but did you ever wonder how many times you have been caught?
This past Sunday night, Yesenia and I attended services at Fuente de Vida Church in San Lucas Toliman. This is a vibrant church community. They have what I can only describe as a “kick-butt” worship band. Two keyboards, a bass, an electric guitar and an awesome drummer support five wonderful singers.
The Sunday night service is always standing-room only, with almost the entire congregation joining in song. We have visited many churches over the years, but there is no band or church that makes me want to sing louder than Fuente de Vida!
Of course, the only thing easier than singing in private is singing along with enough people that you can barely hear yourself, much less worry about anyone else picking up an off-key note or two.
I admire people who can just stand up and do a solo without a worry about how they sound. Some of them are truly blessed with talent and really have no reason to worry. But sometimes, less-talented people are put in a position where they need to sing.
Our regular church has only about twenty people at a typical service. Yesenia is a leader of worship and is one of those blessed with a wonderful voice.
I am not so blessed. When I sang with this church, I always thought my voice was effectively shielded by the others. So when Yesenia told me recently that she could hear me loud and clear from up front, I was a little worried.
“How do I sound?” I asked. Bless Yesenia’s heart, she only gave a short nervous laugh before assuring me that I sounded “alright….really!”
Her response made me think twice and hold back from singing out loud for a while. We sing each morning with the visiting short-term mission teams. I started holding back a bit there, too. I was nervous that my voice wasn’t strong enough or that it would crack or go flat for a note or two. I didn’t want to be embarrassed.
Then I met “Millie” (not her real name). Millie worships at another local church we attend on occasion. The Christian I want to be will only say that Millie sometimes has trouble carrying a melody. My old self from New Jersey would tell you in no uncertain terms that Millie is just an awful singer.
But Millie sings. She sings out loud. Very, very loud. When a worship leader was late for a service, Millie jumped up front and led us in song. She has no qualms about sharing her talents with all of us. She never misses an opportunity to sing to the Lord, alone, in a big service, or with just a handful of people wherever she is.
And the more I hear her sing, the more wonderful she sounds to me. And I know that when her voice reaches Heaven, it sounds like Celine Dion at her best.
Millie helped me sing out loud again, too. I realize a missed note or two means little when it comes to praising God and displaying my love for Him.
Faith is a song. Our relationship with Jesus and what He did for all of us make our faith nothing less than a classic, timeless love song. We should be proud and non-hesitant to belt that tune out every chance we get.
Just like singing anything else, it is easy and comfortable to sing in the privacy of our home. God appreciates hearing it. Private Bible-reading, prayer and reflection are music to His ears.
Singing along with a big crowd is great, too. Joining a congregation or a church meeting in prayer or study is like a classic orchestra resounding in Heaven.
But the best music, the music that makes God really take notice, is when we dare to profess our faith and sing in front of those who are unfamiliar with the choir. Displaying the courage of a karaoke singer and belting out a tune for mere acquaintances and strangers puts us on a whole different level.
Publicly displaying our faith can be a difficult and uncomfortable thing. It is easier and safer to rely on God’s knowledge of our personal faith than to challenge someone professing a non-Christian view on the street.
When a co-worker is ranting against religion or questioning God’s love and seems to have the attention of others, not many are confident enough to offer the counter- argument.
Some of us worry whether we have the Biblical knowledge or experience to eloquently defend our beliefs. After all, we are not pastors or ministers. We did not go to a Bible college. We are not evangelists…. But wait! We are!
Remember that we are all followers of Jesus. We are disciples. We are blessed with faith. We are graced with God’s love and strength. We are the same as the apostles who were assured by Jesus that He will be with them when they need to speak about what is right and wrong.
“For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said!” (Luke 12:12). “For the words you will speak will not be yours; they will come from the Spirit of your Father speaking through you”. (Matthew 10:20). God is constantly telling us to “Fear not, for I will be with you” (Isaiah 41:10).
Trust that God will strengthen our voices. He will help us remember the words. He will block the off-key notes and put us back in harmony… if we just have the courage to start singing.
Fear not whether you can carry the tune of your faith. Every effort to sing will be turned into a masterpiece by Our Father and others will want to join in. And that will be music to every Christian’s ears.