WATCH THE DEVOTIONAL
I thought I would take a little time to explain what goes into doing a devotional set at IHOP. Well, I have never experienced anything like it in public ministry (except for one other setting, which I might explain later). Who would give a person a stage for 2 hours, and say, "sing whatever you want to the Lord, we'll just sit and listen, pray, study the bible, and maybe join in." Well that is exactly what a devotional set is.
The set, which we were not scheduled for, started at 2pm. On that morning, we got a call from our friend Joanna asking if we would cover for her since she was sick. We were on a date, but since the sitter was already covered, we agreed to fill in. We didn't have too much prep time, but I had some things on my heart I wanted to tell the Lord.
Over the past 6 months, I have had the most confusing "testing" of the direction we are walking in life. Let me explain.
I have always loved to sing. I grew up singing all of the time. It might be impossible to be a Hawaiian and NOT sing. And you might as well make me a name tag that says, "Family Minstrel", because I was that girl who sang at every family function, whether it be birthday party, wedding or funeral and many other occasions which I choose not to mention, LOL!
As a matter of fact, when I went to college, I got a Bachelor of Science because I believed that musicians don't make money (which might be true in many cases :o). I got a practical degree, so I could get a practical job, and music remained a hobby, something that I was "good" at. In my mind, there was no "practical" platform for a singer. You either make it big, or you don't. And if you don't make it big, you'd better know how to do something "practical" to pay the bills.
My theory was working until one VERY important and life-changing thing happened. I FELL IN LOVE.
Ahhhhh! Just when I was trying to be practical and safe. I fell in love. My heart slipped away into a relationship that started to change me. It started at the end of high school, and then got really strong in college. I can remember in my sophomore summer of college, learning how to play the guitar. I knew 3 chords, G, C and D. My goal for that summer was to read through the bible. Starting in the new testament, I would read for a couple hours in my empty apartment, and then I would "practice" the guitar... so I thought. I would start by singing worship songs that I already knew, and then before you know it, I was singing off the beaten path. My heart would get tenderized and I would cry when I thought about the man that I was just reading about in the bible. It felt like I was singing right to Jesus. I would pour out my heart before Him, and I knew that He heard me. Hours slipped away so quickly.
By the grace of God, I never did get that "practical" job. He has kept me singing to Him, my whole life. There have been times when I was hired to be more than a singer, and I did practical things like organize and schedule, make copies, and lead people. But this is the first season in my life where it feels like the Lord has picked me up like a father would do to his daughter, sat me down on a chair (in KC), put the guitar in my hand and said, "Ok, you sit here and sing. Just sing. Sing from your heart. Sing straight to me."
You would think that I could relax and just do that!!! But no, my "practical" wheels still turn. I am always calculating a way to provide for myself, make a name for myself, make my mark on the world, etc. How does singing do anything practical for me?
Well, the answer I am finding, I sing in this devotional. When I stress out about life, my heart gets hard. So I started the set by asking the Lord for rain on my heart...we sang spontaneously the whole time...and this chorus came:
Soften my heart with your water
Soften my will to obey
Toward the middle of the set I started singing a Hawaiian song that was written by my great uncle, Johnny Kameaaloha Almeida, a famous singer in Hawaii almost 100 years ago. I have never sung this song this way: from my heart, to my God. Here is the English translation:
Let me walk through paradise with You, Lord
Take my hand and lead me there
All my earthly treasures, I gladly give
Teach me how to love and how to share
Greed and lust and vanity were mine, Lord
Until I found your love divine
And now I'm on my knees
I pray I'll find a way
Let me walk through paradise with you
A light went on inside of my heart. This is what I am dealing with; greed, lust, and vanity. I am so consumed with myself and my ideas of what safety, success and provision are, that I have allowed it to distract me from doing the very thing that brings me into the presence of God... SINGING, more specifically, singing from a heart that is alive to Jesus, who is really listening.
So, no kidding, for the umpteenth million time, I told the Lord again, "I will sing! I will sit here, where you have placed me, and I will sing from my heart. I will sing straight to You." I finished the set with the familiar fragrance flowing from my heart. It was the same song I sang in college. The song of devotion that flows from a heart that has been forever changed by divine Love. I guess that's why the call it a DEVOTIONAL ;o)