Sending Out Arrows

...having an empty row at church

empty row

We always sit on the second row at church.

I am not sure how that became the "Macias Row", but we just always sit there. I like to be at the front, but I want to have somewhere to prop my feet (very spiritual reason, don't you think?) so the second row is perfect. And since very few people sit on the first row, we have an unobstructed view and can concentrate fully on the teaching.

We have been at our church for seven years now. And for almost all of those seven years we have taken up the entire second row. If we have guests we could even take up two. But this Sunday...

I have three children married. I have a fourth child who is in pursuit of that same estate. I have my husband and two children off doing God's work.

So it was just my youngest and myself....on the entire row....because it is the Macias Row so no one else sits there.

But we just don't need the whole row anymore.

I am thrilled for everywhere my arrows were this past Sunday morning. It means that my training and investment in them has enabled them to be shot out of our quiver. It means they can begin the process of starting their own rows in their own churches. It means God is multiplying our efforts and infusing His grace and continuing the work He began in them that He has promised to complete.

And all of that is very good news. But I will risk a bit of honesty- it is also a bit sad. It is not that I begrudge my children their launch. I rejoice in that. But I not only love my kids, I really, really like them too.

I like whispering to them during church or sending notes up and down the aisle. I like talking about the sermon on the way home. I adore looking down the aisle and seeing them worshipping with their hearts while we sing or taking notes during the sermon. I like our inside jokes and our eye contact and how my kids nudge me to get me to quit talking to their Dad.

Because I like my kids, I miss my kids. But the reality is that I will have to get used to that empty second row. And I need to see that row as a testimony to work God has done. And I need to see that empty row as an opportunity.

Because.... maybe God has just opened up some seats so I can start bringing other people with me to church? Hmmmmm.....

He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 1:6

 

Singing in Church

Singing at church! I love to sing in church. There is emotion and beauty in praise music that lifts my spirit.

Now some churches meet in lovely cathedrals with the light filtering through stained glass windows to land upon the deep mahogany of the pews.

We have fluorescent light that bounces off the gym floor to land on the folding chairs.

Some churches have beautifully robed choirs singing harmonious songs that have been rehearsed and perfected.

We have a volunteer group, who sing well, but who can only practice early on Sunday morning before service.

The depth of what we sing somehow transcends the talent of congregation and is not limited by the lack of beauty in the building.

Now don't get me wrong. I am not saying there is anything wrong with beautiful buildings or talented choirs. All I am saying is that those are not present at our church, yet the beauty, depth, and meaning of our singing is not hampered a bit. In fact, the pure simplicity of singing in a school gym may even enhance it.

I love what Paul David Tripp says:

'Corporate worship is designed to remind you that the story of your little life had been included in the grand eternal story of redemption."

That is it. The power of the music and the effect it has on my soul are found, not in a performance, but in a corporate act of standing together with other broken, hurting individuals while agreeing in our souls and proclaiming with our mouths that, "In Christ alone, our hope is found."

And as we declare together the truth of the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord our own stories are put into perspective. Our pains are halved and our joys are doubled. We, the saints gathered in a Texas school gym, agree with God that He is charge and He can write our story because He has a big, fat, universe-containing plan and we are just privileged to be included in it.

Therefore, I will stand and sing loud every Sunday morning. Not because my voice adds in any way to the beauty of the harmonies but because my proclamation adds with the other saints to declare the glory of the Lord.

That is why I love singing in church.

 

Sometimes I Just Need to Sing

I love to worship. But, contrary to the modern American meaning of the word, I do not correlate worship with only singing praise songs.

I love to worship by digging into the Word. I love to worship by listening to good teaching. I love to worship by practicing thankfulness. I love to worship by loving others well. I love to worship by serving my family. I love to worship by walking in faithfulness.

I love to worship. In all it's glorious forms. But sometimes...

Sometimes I just need to sing.

I don't know what it is about singing. I love to sing loud, with my eyes closed, and my arms raised. It takes my mind completely off myself and puts it squarely on the Lord.

And this morning, at church, I really needed to get my mind off myself and onto the Lord. It is just that there are so many moving parts in my life. There are so many people I passionately love and care about and for. And this morning I was feeling burdened by the fact that I have very little control over the details of their lives.

Confession- it is very hard to be a control freak and also be a mother and wife. I love these people so very much but daily I have to die to the desire to control their choices and outcomes.

So when this girl walked into church with a passel of concerns that prayer had not lifted, I was ready for some singing.

Our first song this morning praisied God our King as He sits on the throne. Ahhhh. That's right- I am NOT on the throne. I am NOT in charge. I am NOT in control.

Our next song praised God for bringing life where there is death. Ohhhhh. That's right- I am NOT able to bring the dead to life. I am NOT in control of the grave. I am NOT charged with supplying new life to anyone.

Our last song praised Christ alone, the cornerstone of all that matters. Whewwww. That's right- Jesus is enough. He is sufficient. He is the foundation of all that matters.

My God reigns on His throne. He brings the dead back to life. He is all that matters. And He has my family in His mighty, all-sufficient hand.

After singing, with my vision corrected and my heart lightened I was ready to worship by studying the Word, which was also needful. But I was very grateful for singing this morning.

Because sometimes...... I. Just. Need. To. Sing.

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.   ~Ps 95:1,2