So last night was super-SUPER-fun.
I was playing a 45 minute set at a bar in town. Singing. Laughing. Playing guitar. Doing some covers. Doing some of my songs. Doing some worship. All that jazz.
It wasn’t just me. Another three bands were on over the course of the evening.
My friend (member-of-one-of-the-other-said-bands) had asked if I could play, and it was honestly one of those evenings that I went into with no expectations. I’d never been to this bar before. I hadn’t really had time to nail down my set list. And you know, you have to remember that this isn’t as easy as rocking up to a pub in England and knocking out some tunes. Because… I’m in Japan. Although, this was a Belgium bar in Japan so… Go figure.
I was saying to a friend as we lugged my Taylor through the streets of Susukino, ‘How do I find myself in these situations?’
She (knowing me pretty well) just laughed.
But the evening was a hit.
The place was full. The venue was great. They even served tea (which as I’m not partial to Belgium beer, or beer of any variety, was a massive PLUS!). The sound guy was truly talented (which makes playing live music a dream). A group of my most awesome friends came to join the sing along. I had a hoot.
But the thing that really struck me over the course of my set?
I really love singing about Jesus in bars.
I mean, I love singing about Him anywhere, but especially in bars.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s hilarious to throw in some funny covers. We had some rousing audience-participation for ‘Let it Be’ and ‘Stand by Me’ last night.
But in between the crazy-fun, and actually contributing to the crazy fun, it’s a real privilege to sing Truth.
I think we win battles in song.
Like 2 Chronicles 20.
King Jehoshaphat is King of Judah. And Judah are about to be attacked by a MAHOOSIVE (yes, that’s a word…) Edomite army. The situation seems hopeless because Judah are so small in comparison. And Jehoshaphat declares a national fast in desperation, and the people come to seek the Lord.
They are desperate. Super desperate. For their lives desperate.
And Jehoshaphat prays this awesome prayer that just honours the Name of God, and finishes it with these words: ‘We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on You’.
It’s like he’s literally saying, ‘We have no power, it seems pretty rubbish right now, but we still acknowledge you as God in this situation’.
And then a guy called Jahaziel (great name) speaks a seemingly impossible word through the Holy Spirit: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s!’
He speaks a message of hope. Seemingly-impossible hope. They are to go out and have no fear, but rest on the certainty of God’s promises.
Easier said than done when there is a hundred-thousand strong army knocking at the door.
But the people feel faith rise. And in that place they worship.
And not just in that place. The next day, they send out the praise team before the army. They send out the singer first.
Now, I’ve been leading worship since I was about 9 years old and I play a few instruments. So I may not be an experienced military strategist, but I can tell you that musicians carrying their instruments and singing, typically do not make the best fighters to send into a battle first.
I mean, seriously? Sending in the singers?
On the front lines?
It seems like the worst war strategy ever. I know me. I am a self-confessed wimp.
But this wasn’t a military strategy. It was a faith strategy. It was a trusting the promises of God strategy.
Because there’s power in praise.
And I think we win battles in song.
‘Give thanks to the Lord, for His loves endures forever.’
That’s what they went into battle with.
And the thing was that in this story, as the people sang and praised, the Lord did fight for them. They came upon an army destroyed by itself. And the battle was won.
And the valley that should have been the one of destruction and defeat, they renamed ‘Beracah’, which literally means ‘praise’ (and is the name I want to call my house in the future!), as a symbol of the way in which God fought for them.
Battles are won in praise. In song.
And I love singing in bars.
I believe that we were created to shine, to be lights in the world, in the image of Jesus who is the Light of the world, and who calls us to radiate Him.
But we shine best when we’re praising strong. Lights in a dark place, who won’t be reduced to a glimmer or a fading glow or the faintest of embers because nothing can rob us of the light of He who is the Light. Who is all Light.
And it’s that Light, His Light, that we long to see transform hearts and lives and individuals in this beautiful city, in this beautiful nation.