March 23, 2016
“Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!” (Psalm 100:2)
I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t singing. It’s been a part of me for as long as I can remember. My family has learned to live with it, albeit without countless reminders that it gets on their nerves after a while. On a recent trip to Haiti someone asked, “Do you ever stop singing?” The answer is yes – once I realize that it’s annoying others. But within a matter of minutes I’m back at it again. It’s just in me.
But truth is I’m not great at it. I mean, I can sing. But not like really sing. I can’t tell you how many times I wish I had pipes like Jeremy Jordan, Charles Billingsly, or Jordan Smith. I’m sure I’ve improved through the years thanks to countless lessons from vocal coaches and professors. But I’ve surrendered to the fact that it’s as good as it’s gonna get. And I’m cool with that.
Growing up, it seemed like I was always surrounded by “good” singers.
Growing up, it seemed like I was always surrounded by “good” singers. My father, who couldn’t read a lick of music and had no formal training whatsoever, could sing like George Beverly Shea. My brother Mark inherited our dad’s voice and started out as a vocal major in college before the Lord called him into pastoral ministry. And then there was me. The little scrawny kid who would spend countless hours at the piano and in front of the mirror wishing he could really sing.
After leading music and working with hundreds of musicians for over 30 years now, singing is second nature to me. But I know there are plenty of non-musical Christians in the world. In fact, some people don’t like to sing at all. My mother was one of these people. Despite the rich baritone sounds coming from my father and brother, my mother never sang. I have great memories as a kid growing up in a little Baptist church in Virginia: Sunday School lessons with Miss Henderson, listening to the big pipe organ in worship, and week-long revivals with “dinner on the grounds.” But I cannot remember hearing my mother sing. Because she didn’t. I stood next to her every Sunday. We shared a hymnal. But she never opened her mouth. Her love of music, however, was what pushed me to pursue it. She was the driving force behind my desire to sing and lead others in worship. It’s not that she didn’t love the Lord. She was a godly woman. But I guess somewhere in her past, someone made fun of her singing, so she stopped. What a tragedy. Because I know she possessed a song in her heart and she wanted so badly to express her love for Jesus through beautiful singing.
So when it comes to expressing our praise to King Jesus, consider these Biblical truths:
Singing is a heart issue, not a talent competition. Ronald Allen wrote in his book, Worship: Rediscovering the Missing Jewel, “When a non-singer becomes a Christian, he or she becomes a singer. Not all are blessed with a finely tuned ear and a well modulated voice; so the sound may not be superb – it may even be out-of-tune and off-key. Remember – worship is a state of heart; musical sound is a state of art. Let’s not confuse them.”
God hears what we can’t. We are the redeemed singing for our great Redeemer. Even if we can’t sing a note, we can still sing in our hearts.
Singing triggers our emotions. John Piper states, “The reason we sing is because there are depths and heights and intensities and kinds of emotion that will not be satisfactorily expressed by mere prosaic forms, or even poetic readings. There are realities that demand to break out of prose into poetry and some demand that poetry be stretched into song.”
Singing with others creates unity. There’s something supernatural that takes place when a body of believers lift their voices in praise to Jesus. Whether you’re in a room with 30 or 3,000, when multiple voices are raised in praise, it’s an expression of worship that cannot be duplicated.
God never promised that we will be “saved” through singing. Salvation comes through faith in Christ and believing that He died for our sins. But I am confident that God gave us the gift of singing in order to deepen our relationship with Him. You may think your singing is dreadful (like my mother did). But remember this – Jesus accepts all of our meager offerings of praise through His perfect life and His perfect sacrifice. The Father loves our singing when it’s sincere and offered through faith. And besides — one day we’ll all have perfect voices and our songs will be greater than anything we’ve sung here. It’s then we’ll realize that eternity won’t be long enough to contain our songs of praise.