There is much about music that connects to our soul and draws us closer to God. When the music is God-focused, it seems natural to want to know God more. There is a transcendent desire to understand God through the lyrics and tones, to somehow wrap our souls around eternity and “hold” it. Music is profoundly powerful. Music is a vehicle that is intended to take us to God where we then connect with Him from our hearts.
Music. We have a lot of it in our generation. We have iTunes, and other digital libraries that can feed our need in moments. Genres are so vast that the buffet table of choices makes one feel gluttonous. I need more memory in my iPod for the many varieties afforded to me. Radio stations, internet stations, bands and symphonies fill the world we live in. We are not at a loss for good music in our generation.
I remember one of the classes I took at Christ for the Nations on the ministry of worship that had a profound impact on me. Kevin Jonas (Father of the famous Jonas Brothers) was the worship director and this particular class was one where we were going to put into practice the idea of “singing a new song”. The instructions were given simply, “I am going to have the pianist play three chords in a repetitive pattern and I want you to quiet your heart before God and then begin to sing to him what is in your heart. This is your ‘new song’. The qualifications of this song was that it would be honest and not contrived from what we “thought” God wanted to hear, but a genuine reflection of what was in our hearts. I began to feel awkward hoping to come up with some great lyrics or beautiful statements. I sang “halleluia, and Lord you are good” when my heart finally began speaking. My song came out something like this, “Lord, I am so lonely. I feel so lost. I don’t know how to ‘be’ and I so need you to be close to me.” This was my “New Song”. I wept as I sang it. My heart burst open and a flood of emotion poured out of me to the tune of three repetitive chords. I called out to the Lord weeping and sang my lament.
In our highly scheduled church services here in America, I find that there is a disconnect in worship. We learn some good music and songs and after a few weeks we can really sing them–sometimes with harmonies. We memorize where the guitar solos land and politely wait for the cool instrumentals to finish their play before we enter again to sing the chorus one more time. Then we’ve got to move on to the next song, or the next event, or the video segment, or something. How many times have we sung a song that struck our souls with profound lyric or music and we were moved and needed to respond but couldn’t or didn’t?
See, worship is a response. It is my response to God and/or what God has done in me. It flows out of my heart, even out of my need. Sometimes it is full of faith and praise, and sometimes it resembles someone who is searching for a reason to carry on one more day. These are the songs that God hears. Our heart songs. But another element in worship that is missed is that just as we respond to the Lord, He also responds to us. Have you ever worshiped long enough that you have heard God singing over you? Zephaniah 3:17 says that the Lord rejoices over us with singing.
As I sang my “new song” to the Lord that day in the worship class, I began to hear God sing over me. He began singing love, hope, comfort, and healing. My tears rushed even hotter. My song touched my Father’s heart and He responded to me. Of course God’s response to me caused another response out of me and my “new song” began to be “O, how I love You! How I need You! Yes, Lord, You are good!” Again to the tune of those same three chords, I learned to worship from my own heart. I learned that worship goes beyond the cool songs or instrumentals. I learned that my worship moves the heart of God. I learned that true worship is in spirit and in truth.
I find myself missing those corporate moments of worship when everyone in the room is so wrapped up in God that they don’t need a “worship leader”. Their own hearts know how to draw close to the heart of God. I find myself needing to sing “new songs” from my heart. More than anything, I need to hear my Father singing over me.