Tonight, for the first time in my life, I sang in a church choir. There I was in the first row, trying to read music, follow harmonies and melodies (like I have any idea how to do that), and being singled for my “wandering tune.” I listened closely to the more experienced singers around me, and just came to an understanding that I was the worst person at “Choir” in the room. But, here’s the funny thing: I honestly and truly had a great time. I got to learn a little about reading music, I got to sing songs about Jesus, and I got to hang out with people who I love and enjoy being with. I also learned a few things. As I sat in my chair in between my parts there were two things that came to my mind…
First, the old me (that is before I came to know Jesus and was miraculously changed into an entirely different person) hated things like choir. The last time I sang in a choir was in Everett, WA at Hawthorne Elementary. I was 7 years old, and choir was mandatory. I actually gave choir my best effort back in 1992, but I was terrible. I really wanted to be the best at choir (for those of you who know me you can stop laughing :-D), and I wanted the solo part for the school concert. Everyone’s parents were going to be there, and this was my chance to shine. My chance to master another area of life… the arts. Needless to say I did not get the part, but the music teacher graciously let me sing in a quartet, while the choir star, A.J., got the solo in front of the whole school. As you can tell, I still remember this incident vividly. I was mad at the teacher, and I slandered him to my family. I was mad at A.J., and set out to humiliate him in the classroom and the playground (my stronger areas). It’s weird how bitter a 7-year-old can be just because he can’t sing, especially when no one even treated me unfairly. In retrospect, I was given more than I deserved be being allowed to sing in the quartet. Truly, putting me with 3 other kids that could actually sing was an act of mercy, and saved me from public humiliation. Nevertheless, after that incident I decided I was an athlete and a brainiac, and singing was for girls or geeks. Ofcourse, this is not true, but I had to justify myself for not being good at singing, and this was the easiest way, albeit the shallowest and most sinful way to go about the failure.
Back to the choir night, there I was singing in a choir with my brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. I was at MY Church, with MY Pastor, and doing all this of MY own accord. As I sat there, I thought how amazing is my God? More amazing than I could ever know or imagine. The Bible says that, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV.) There couldn’t be any better example of what this means than me being at church to sing in the Easter choir in hopes of glorifying Jesus Christ BECAUSE I WANTED TO. Just amazing. Jesus Christ took a black-out drinking, cocaine abusing, adulterating, mocker of God and all things religion, and simply told me He loved me and had been waiting for me…that’s when I gave my life to him, and now I am a Choir Boy. I’m also married to the assistant pastor’s daughter. I also haven’t drank, done drugs, been involved in any sinful relationships, or gone to any parties since the day I met Jesus.
But, what I have done is even more crazy. From the day the Lord said to me seek my face, I have been seeking after Jesus and walking with Him to the best of my ability (When I first came to the Lord Jesus, He spoke Psalm 27:8-10 to my heart in a very powerful way) because I love Jesus with all my heart, and it is my desire, not my church’s rule or any other regulation placed upon me, but my heart’s desire to live for Jesus, and to know Him as much as possible. Even if my church completely walked away from the Lord, and every Christian I know turned out to be faking it (This will not happen because I have some of the most amazing brothers and sisters in the Lord, who love Jesus with all their heart), I would still love the Lord. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is alive, and that He is living inside of me, and I know this because of what He has done in my life.
One definition of grace is: the divine influence upon the heart of the believer. It is a definition of grace because God freely gives this divine influence to those who believe in His Son, Jesus Christ. And, this divine, supernatural, only from the one true God influence on my heart was so evident to me tonight because I wanted to be a Choir Boy. I made the decision of my own free will, with gladness and excitement to sing to the Lord with people I love, and to try do something that I am terrible at and have not touched in nearly 20 years. Talk about divine influence on the heart! There is absolutely no way the old black out drinking, filled with pride and ego Cory would ever even think about doing an activity at a church, let alone be a choir boy there. I am so glad Jesus loved me, and saved me. I can never say thank you enough.
My second thought is a different kind of amazing, but also very interesting. Even as I sat there enjoying myself, I could feel myself wanting to go do something I excelled at after this choir session. Even as a Christian (we are not perfect, but saved by grace) I find myself struggling to partake in an event that I am not naturally good at. I like doing things that I am the best at, and I think that has to do mostly with my sinful pride, but does have a healthy dose of laziness mixed in.
To my shame, I want people to think well of me, and to look up to me. And, as I said before, I had to come to grips with the fact that I was the worst person at this particular thing in the entire building. I thank God for tonight because the pride and ego that dwell inside me have no place in the heart of a Christian, and He continues to work on those areas of my heart. Unfortunately, those characteristics will continue to rear their heads from time to time regardless until I am perfected with the Lord, but I pray that God would take as much of this pride out of me as possible, and replace it with an active knowledge in my heart of what it means to be truly humble and to have no thought of self whatsoever. I pray that He would teach what it means to be the lowest servant, and teach me how to be a servant of all. I thank God for what He is going to do through this choir experience because I obviously need some refining.
The wonderful thing about God is that He is faithful to complete the work He starts in each believer (Philippians 1:6). I will be praying for growth and a deeper knowledge of the love of Christ in myself, and every Christian who reads this little post. I will also be praying for every person that has never met Jesus, and does not how much He loves you that you would choose to seek Jesus Christ because He is, and has been, waiting for you to come to Him, the same way He was waiting for me. He will not turn you away no matter what you have done if you come to Him with humble heart because He loves you, and went to the Cross for every sinner (person) that ever came into existence. All you have to do is repent (turn from) your sins, and believe on Him who died and rose again, Jesus Christ.
May God bless you, and cause His face to shine upon you.