So it's been another super fun, super full weekend…. And Monday morning.
I was going to write this blog last night, but I was way too tired to actually formulate grammatically-correct sentences…
And considering the random-beauty of this morning… I'm actually glad I waited.
Yesterday was kind of an important day for me actually…. I sang in the worship team in my church here for the first time.
Now singing and playing instruments in worship teams is something I've been doing since I was about 8… And I completely love music as an expression of worship to God…
But actually, it was kind of something that I laid down.
Like, music is in who I am, and the last few years I've still been playing in personal worship each day, and outreach events in bars, and even in special events or performances… But being involved in the worship band in regular church services, was something that I quite heavily gave up at the same time I was going through my divorce.
It was so incredibly painful at the time. It kind of felt like giving up part of who I was in God. And I guess at that point, I didn't really anticipate an opportunity to pick it up in the future.
But, that process of dealing with 'stuff', and learning that my worship to God was just as precious to Him regardless of who heard or saw was actually a real part of my own healing and restoration.
I fell back in love with worship in the secret place in a way that changed everything all over again.
And He used that season to heal me and restore my joy from the inside out.
At the point I moved to Japan, almost 18 months ago now, I had a real peace about where I was and who I was in God… But moving to Japan and having a Japanese church (that only speaks Japanese) as my Christian family here meant that I kept my love of being part of a church worship team as something on the shelf.
I figured it wasn't for this season, and maybe it wouldn't be for any season.
My Japanese didn't feel good enough.
And I guess maybe if I'm really honest, I still didn't feel good enough. If I'm really honest.
Because still wrapped up inside of me were these feelings of failure. At some points. If I'm really honest.
I said to God, 'I love music, and I would love to serve you with my music and my art, and I will be faithful in taking the opportunties You open up. But I won't seek this out and I won't promote myself.'
(I don't by the way think it's wrong to put yourself forward… It's just where I was at).
And so in last year God opened up some incredible opportunities to sing in bars and parties and use those things as outreach. He opened up more and more opportunities to use my art. And I have been so thankful.
But somewhere deep inside… I've really missed being part of a worship team.
I didn't share that with anyone but God. But it was there.
I'll cut a long story short so I keep your attention…
But this January, one of my best friends approached me with the words, 'I think you should pray about joining the worship team…'
She shared that she'd been talking with some others in my church about me being involved and that they really felt it would be right. Even though my Japanese isn't perfect. Even though my story isn't perfect.
My leaders here were so encouraging. My friends here were so encouraging.
Just that process was one in which I felt so incredibly loved.
And so yesterday, I sang in my church worship team for the first time. In Japanese.
And it was beautiful.
I love worship and I love singing, so that was so beautiful in itself.
But it was also the restoration of so much more than I could ask or imagine.
By a God who is faithful to restore more than the locusts ate.
You get that right? In Joel, when there's that prophecy that God will restore back more than the locusts ate? That there's this point where the harvest is totally ruined and eaten and destroyed and everyone's hopeless. But God restores their hope with the promise that He will restore, and not just restore, but give them abundance.
That's how I felt yesterday.
That singing in a worship team in Japanese, in this church family that I love so deeply and who love me so completely, was more restoration than I could have ever hoped for when I laid my dreams down.
And it's come with more opportunties and not less.
For example… This morning. This epic morning.
I'd been asked to display some art work in a massive old person's care home in Sapporo. And I went to just check out the display space with some friends. (We're actually doing a project with kids with disabilities and art to be displayed there in May… But that's another story!) Anyway, we went to meet some of these old Japanese men and women and it was an awesome time. But it ended in me performing some spontaneous live music for them all for about half an hour.
I was singing 'Amazing Grace', and one of the old women said to my friend, 'I know she's a Christian. I can tell she's a Christian'.
It was a great time.
A precious time.
And it again showed me that as we place the broken pieces of our lives into the hands of a God who is healer, and completely healer, He restores so perfectly that it's better than we could ask or imagine.
I have cried some tears of thankfulness in the last two days.
But only thankfulness.
To a God whose ways are best.
As Rachel Faagutu once sang in a great House of Prayer worship set,
'I didn't think I would sing in the house of the Lord again… But the Lord, He gave me back my ministry. He gave me back my ministry… And I've got a testimony about Jesus. He carries me through my worst storms. I'll only call on Jesus. I'm leaning on His everlasting arms.'
Thank you Jesus. I love You.