Monday, February 12, 2007

Singing in Church

I sing in church. I used to sing softly because I do not have a lovely voice and I was shy. I can carry a tune in a bucket, if the bucket has a 1-1/2-octave lid and the tempo doesn't swing it too fast. I can sort of read music, about the way that I read French after taking a couple of semesters of it thirty years ago. So I used to sing quietly, mostly to myself, in church because I didn't want to spoil the experience for others.

Now I sing lustily and loudly, much to the embarrassment of my teenage son next to me.

But I think I sound better than I used to.

My voice has not improved because of some miracle drug purchased from China through an exclusive e-mail offer, nor from surgical intervention through the skill of competent physicians, nor from the miraculous intervention of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands. In fact, I don't imagine it has improved at all.

However, my attitude about singing has changed.

Truth is, I don't really give a flip what people around me (including my son) think about my voice; not even when I'm singing a song of encouragement to them.

You see, my voice is a gift from God - just like Amy Grant's, or Stephen Curtis Chapman's, or Enrico Caruso's, or that sweet little old lady in the middle right section of the worship center who has never let being off-key interfere with her devotion to God or her expression of it with great volume. (Lord, I love hearing her sing! He must love it, too.)

God doesn't expect my voice to sound any better than the voice He gave me.

He wants me to sing because it's good for me. Increases the oxygenation in my lungs. Lifts my spirits, sometimes. Convicts me, at other times. It gives me a chance to participate in worshiping Him, and to do it with others who love Him.

I love singing. I always have. I can't believe I cheated myself out of the full blessing of it for so many years.

Oh, sure, there are times when I don't sing. There are times when I need to listen and be spoken to by the song; times when I am not qualified to sing it as an encouragement to others because I have not been faithful to its message. There are even rare moments when I don't fully agree, in my ticky-picky word-loving writer way, with the way a certain concept is phrased - or even the concept itself.

Most of the time I sing anyway. Because I don't want my reluctance to sing to become chronic. That would be an indication of something wrong - not with my voicebox, nor my lungs - but with my heart. And it might be serious.

Serious enough that only the great Physician could heal it.

And how would I know if He was just waiting for me to ask for that healing in song?

Or that the singing itself was the therapy He was prescribing?

6 comments:

David U said...

10-4 on the singing! One the things I cherish about the Pepperdine Lectures and the Tulsa Workshop is the hours spent in singing together. I think it is a small glimpse of what heaven is going to be like.

Thanks for that reminder, brother!

DU

laymond said...

Brother Keith, I truly hope brother David is wrong. I don't know if it would be a heavenly reward to sit between you and david singing for eternity. I do as you do I pick the songs that I am better at when I sing,notice I said better, not good. I believe my neighbor appreciates my discrecion.

Keith Brenton said...

I'm hoping that the incorruptible body comes with an unimpeachable voice.

I pick the songs that I'm better at? Did I say that?

I'll have to re-read what I wrote ...

don said...

There is a young woman in our assembly who has what I call a "scalpel voice". It cuts through everything, and is both flat and sharp at the same time.

However, she sings in the spirit, and I know the heart is what is heard, not the physical manifestation. I do, however, try to sit somewhere other than directly in front of her if I can.

laymond said...

Keith; just to clear any misunderstandings which I caused by no punctuation. What I should have said is we both pick songs,you pick those you are qualified to sing. I pick those that won't offend my neighbors if I do sing.

mmlace said...

Yesterday was "bulletin day" for me, one of the many things I love about Fridays! (Although I don't understand how, when I lived in Benton, I always got it on Thursday. Now that I live in Little Rock, and not more than a mile from the church, I don't get it until Friday...where's the logic in that???) Anyway, I realize I'm really, really late commenting on this one, but when I got my bulletin yesterday (with a slightly edited verson of this article in it) I felt inclined to give it a second look. Very convicting it is, because I read your thoughts about how you've always loved to sing but were shy, worried about how you sounded, etc...and I think "That's me, that is totally me. I shouldn't be like that either." So it's something I struggle with. Nice to know I'm not alone. Thanks, Keith.--Lacey