USIC HAS BEEN a part of my life since I was 7 and began singing in a chil- dren’s choir called “The Bible Singers.”
I have learned many new styles through the years and have grown to sing various parts, render solos, and sing on a praise team. Music always filled our home and it has always been a refuge and strength through trials.
Recently, after a long period of battles, I found I had lost my joy in music. That is not good for a worship singer! It’s not possible for a praise singer to just go through the motions for very long. One gets lazy and loses his or her commitment to practice.
I had moved beyond the worst battles, and many things I thought lost were
others. But my reservoir of joy had been drained, and since the joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh. 8:10), my strength had also been drained.
As I bathed in God’s presence, He reminded me that I had not had a person- al retreat with Him in a long time. That is our responsibility, not the church’s. We cannot go into church empty and expect to be able to pour out and bless others. We all get overwhelmed with our daily responsibilities, yet we must set aside time on a regular basis to rest in the Lord’s presence, not just barreling through devotions and then going on our way. We need to set aside time for inti- macy with God.
Jesus set this example many times, slipping away from everyone else to be alone with His Father (see Matt. 14:23; John 6:15). This wasn’t just to escape
wasn’t there. His strength came from her; when she was gone, his strength was gone. The other movie was about a thirty- something-year-old science teacher who got one last chance at his dream of play- ing professional baseball. He played in the minors for a few months but got weary and was about to quit. Then one night he found a Little League game nearby. As he watched the children play, he remembered why he still played as an adult—the sim-
Read three articles not available online in the November print edition of Evangel.
ple love of the game. The next morning he went to the stadium and said to his team- mates, “Guess what we get to do today? We get to play baseball!” It was no more a
The only way to retain our joy is to spend time with the One who gives it to us.
being restored; however, I still did not have my song. “What’s wrong with me, Lord?” I prayed.
One day I woke up with a rare migraine. I could barely open my eyes and it was impossible to wear my glasses. That meant my day was gone. It’s one thing to muddle around my own home that I know by heart, but quite another to try to go outside and navigate sidewalks and roads without my glasses, and there is no way to work on my computer.
I decided to follow my daughter’s advice and just spend the day alone with the Lord. I found my favorite worship music and began playing it. As I listened, it felt like God was pouring healing oil over my body and my spirit. I didn’t real- ize how many battle scars had accumu- lated. I cried freely for a long time. I tried to sing, but the Lord told me to just allow myself to bask in His presence and to let Him minister to me.
During the long battles, I had con- tinued to study the Bible, sing to the Lord, and pour myself out to try to help
from the crowds; this was recharge time. He communed with God and received strength.
Jesus’ disciples once asked Him why He could cast out demons and they could not. He told them that some things come only with “prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29). Many times when we try to fast we struggle with it. I think it’s because we aren’t fasting as Jesus did. We fast food but do not spend mealtime in prayer. Fasting by itself only makes us hungrier for what we are giving up. Jesus said fast- ing and prayer should be done together. When Jesus fasted, He separated Himself and spent time with His Father. Our strength must primarily come from God, not from each other. If it doesn’t, where will our strength come from in the times we must stand alone? While meditating on how I lost my joy and how to regain it, God reminded me of two movies I had recently watched. One was about an athlete who would defeat his competition whenever the love of his life was in the arena, but would lose when she
chore to get up early and play long hours. It was pure joy to play the game. That is what music should be to me as a worship singer—the pure outpouring of my love to the God who created me, saved me, and will see me through eternity. The only way to retain that joy is to spend time with the One who gives me that joy. I need to immerse myself in God so I can be filled to overflowing. Only then can I effectively pour out to others, showing them how to receive God’s joy and strength.
This Sunday morning, I will not awaken my family with a strained “Hurry up—we have to get to church!” but instead, “Wake up—we get to go and sing to Jesus today!” If I “enter his gates with thanksgiv- ing and his courts with praise” (Ps. 100:4 NIV), my excitement will be infectious for everyone around me. So I will “sing to the Lord a new song, and His praise in the assembly of saints” (149:1 NKJV).
Mina R. Raulston lives in Columbus, Ohio, and attends the Potter’s House Church of God.
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