"I believe that our obedience, our life laid down, our yes - that’s the best worship we could ever give to God."
I just completed Youth with a Mission Orlando’s School of Worship, and my life will never be the same.
I’ve learned a lot about music, gained a deeper understanding of what worship is, practiced leading a worship set, dipped my feet into songwriting, dug into scripture, been involved in our prayer room, and experienced prophetic and spontaneous singing. It’s been amazing! But to be honest, I think the biggest things I’m taking away from this school are a greater sense of identity, a deeper intimacy with Jesus, and a renewed excitement for what our future together might hold.
Even though I grew up playing classical music on the piano, I would never have considered myself a musician, nor considered music a big part of my life. I’ve always loved singing harmony, but I don’t have a very powerful voice with which I’d feel confident leading a room of worshipers. I’ve been involved in worship teams here and there throughout my life, but only in a very simple capacity and in small settings. So when I felt a nudge in my spirit to pursue doing the School of Worship, I was pretty surprised. It seemed so out of the blue. As my husband and I were talking and praying about ways for me to begin easing back into ministry roles now that the kids are getting a bit older and going to school, I was partially joking when I mentioned being a student in the School of Worship. His immediate positive response took me aback. I never imagined he’d agree to spend three months as a stay-at-home dad with four kids so I could pursue something that I wasn’t even sure was for me.
I decided to do this school as a way to be trained to better serve in the worship department at YWAM Orlando...
...and as an avenue to be involved in more ministry with my husband who has been a worship leader for over 10 years. Little did I know that God was planning to grow me in so many ways, and give me a new passion I never even imagined was inside of me.
I’ve always loved writing (it’s my dream to become a novelist someday), but when I sat down to hash out my first song, it felt like a whole new part of me was awakened. Words are powerful, but when you add a melody to them, something magical happens. I’ve been able to receive such clear prophetic words for people in song form, and I’ve received so much revelation from Scripture by singing it out.
In this worship school, we had many opportunities for spontaneous songs, and I had to get over my pride and step out of my comfort zone to obey what God was speaking to me. It’s been so freeing and exhilarating. I remember being a young child and rushing ahead of my family on a bike ride on some open country roads and singing out spontaneous worship to God. One of those times, I didn’t notice a group of teenagers hanging out under a tree by the side of the road until I heard them mimicking and mocking me. I was so embarrassed that I decided to never again sing like that. Until the School of Worship.
"I had to get over my pride and step out of my comfort zone to obey what God was speaking to me."
I felt God tell me that he’s giving me songs for my kids. I’ve been wracking my brain for months now on how I can get Scriptural truths embedded in my children’s minds and hearts. They’re pretty good at memorization, but there’s no passion behind it when it’s just something their mom is requiring of them. But they all love music. As I’ve written songs these past few months, they have begun to ask to listen to them every night at bedtime. I can’t even describe the heartwarming feeling I get from hearing my four-year-old son singing out Scripture in worship to Jesus with a song that I’ve written.
I’m not sure where my musical journey will take me...
...but if God can awaken a brand new passion for songwriting in me - even now, a third of the way through my life - and one that can be used in many ways, then I know that whatever else he has planned for me is going to be amazing, as long as I’m willing to take action, even when it means stepping out of my comfort zone.
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All this to get to my point.
In the School of Worship, one of our teachers shared this illustration with us:
Imagine getting to heaven and sitting around a table with several Bible characters of old. Everyone is taking turns sharing about their time on earth.
Moses starts: “I led God’s people out of captivity and into freedom.”
Gideon: “I defeated over 100,000 enemy soldiers with only 300 men.”
Mary: “I bore and raised the savior of all humanity.”
Peter: “I started the very first church in all of history.”
Paul: “I began the missions movement.”
Then they turn to look at you, and ask, “What did you do?”
That sinking feeling you’re getting in your stomach right now? I had that same feeling. H-o-l-y c-o-n-v-i-c-t-i-o-n.
But, you want to know what stands out to me the most about each and every one of these people? None of them - none - were actually very extraordinary in any way. Moses had a speech impediment and didn’t want God to pick him for the job. Gideon was paralyzed with fear and doubt. Mary was a mere teenager. Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. Paul was a religious zealot who had persecuted and brutally killed the followers of Jesus.
It’s so easy to look at ourselves and our circumstances and feel inadequate.
It’s so easy to make excuses about why we aren’t stepping out. It’s so easy to say no without actually using the word. But the reason all those people will be able to tell those stories in heaven of the amazing things they did for God is not because they were stellar people with zero flaws who had amazing ideas and mad skills and who never failed. The only thing that was exceptional about those people was that they chose to say yes to what God was asking of them. You could go back around that table and replace each sentence with, “I said yes.” Despite my physical impediments, despite my fear and anxiety, despite losing my reputation, despite my lack of courage, despite my past sins. I. Said. Yes.
There’s a song by Lindy Conant and the Circuit Riders that so clearly embodies these thoughts:
I see your yes to me in your nail-pierced hands
I will love you, Lord, and walk in your commands
This is more than words, more than a song
It's my life laid down, there's action involved
More than words, more than a song
It's my life laid down
I will love you with my yes, and with my obedience
I will love you with my yes, Jesus
And I lay down my own will
To take up yours and yours alone
I lay down reputation, oh yes
I live for you and you alone
Worship is such a huge part of our relationship with God.
But just like these lyrics say, our worship needs to be more than just a song. Those mountaintop moments, when we feel his presence so heavily and hear his voice so clearly, are amazing. Those hype moments, when we are raising our hands in the air, and jumping and dancing and screaming in joy during a worship set - they’re exhilarating. Those quiet moments, when tears are streaming down our faces, and we can’t help but kneel at the heaviness of the presence of the Holy Spirit, are precious beyond words.
But I believe that our obedience, our life laid down, our yes - that’s the best worship we could ever give to God.
So here’s my question for you:
Will you say yes?
Grace McKinneyHill | YWAM Orlando Staff
Feature Image By: Priscilla Du Preez of Unsplash