When I was 15 years old, I had a very strong inclination that God had a calling on my life. I prayed about it, and asked for several signs, because to be completely honest, I generally don’t trust my feelings. Besides, I loved to sing more than anything, and I couldn’t believe that God would actually call me into music ministry. On a certain day in December 1995, while attending an Illinois Youth Encounter, I prayed that 3 very random, but specific things would happen…things that wouldn’t normally happen. By the end of that night, all three of those things had occurred. As a shy 15 year old, I was a little freaked out. I told my friend, Bethany, and when I went home, I went forward to talk to my pastor that Sunday to tell him what God told me, but he sat me down, and never told the church. It made me feel like he didn’t believe me, or didn’t believe IN me. Maybe I didn’t communicate it well. Besides, I was 15. The only women I knew in music ministry were recording artists, so I’m sure the idea seemed a bit far fetched.
The next year, at 16, I began to write off the idea that I had correctly heard God. I wrestled with the concept over and over, and I didn’t want to tell people about it. I didn’t want to seem braggy or conceited, or come off like I thought I was better than anyone else. I was a choir girl, and grew up around a lot of talented singers. I had no desire in the least to come off as a diva. I struggled with my gift and my calling. I just wanted to be normal. At the height of my burden, questioning whether I could have really heard it right, I asked God for another sign. On this particular day, I was attending the All-District Choir Festival. My heart was heavy, and I prayed to God, asking that if He really wanted me to commit my life to music ministry, that He would allow my name to be called as the top audition in the district for my section (meaning I would go on to All-State Honors Choir and audition to sing the national anthem for a state basketball game), but to make sure my ego wouldn’t get the better of me, that He would prevent me from making All-State at all the following year. It was a bold prayer, and I was petrified. I was even more petrified when my name was actually called. I was the top Alto 1. My knees were shaking more than I knew they could and I could barely catch my breath. Everyone thought I was just nervous about the anthem audition, but God had spoke, so clearly that I couldn’t ignore Him. I didn’t feel like my audition had even been that good, and there I was, being called up as top of my district. And just as I’d asked, the following year, I didn’t make it past All-District…and it was humbling, but I knew more than anything, that was a confirmation.
God made me a promise…but honestly, I had no idea what it meant.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own understanding;
think about Him in all your ways,
and He will guide you on the right paths.
Trying to rely on my own understanding made things confusing. Like I said, the only women I had ever seen in “music ministry” were recording artists. Women didn’t serve in a Music Minister role in any church I’d ever attended. In my mind, I was going to be a recording artist when I grew up. At 17, I left for college to study vocal performance and Contemporary Christian Music. After 1 year, I felt like God called me away from school, and I disobeyed. I stayed too long trying to rely on my own understanding, and I paid a heavy price, but God was still faithful. He had made me a promise, even if it wasn’t turning out like I wanted.
At 21, I married Bryan. At 23, I became a mom. At 25, our marriage struggled, and at 27, we recommitted ourselves to our marriage and our God. I didn’t forget God’s promise. I went to a conference in my late 20’s to learn more about the Christian music industry, thinking that perhaps my timing had not been right in my youthful pursuit of my call…and to be completely honest, it sounded awful to me. The ministry aspect was in no way the focus. Promotion and money were king, and this idealistic INFP didn’t want much to do with it. My faith and calling weren’t and aren’t about glorifying myself. Realizing this caused me to pause and it caused me to pray. All my life, I thought that was what God meant, but it wasn’t what I really wanted. It didn’t fit. I was confused, but not defeated. I realized that God called me to music ministry, not necessarily that I would be a Christian recording artist, as silly as that sounds now. Bryan and I began seeking what God really meant, not relying on our own understanding, and it all intertwined with a promise God had made Bryan when he was 19 – he would plant a church. One year later, after a lot of prayer and God moving a few mountains, we moved to New Orleans to attend seminary.
I’m grateful God doesn’t function within our paradigm of life. His ways are counter-cultural. His timing isn’t immediate, things don’t happen quickly or even how we think they’re going to occur…and He has a reason for all of it. When I look back on all the years between age 15 and age 37, I’m thankful. I’m thankful that I wasn’t thrown into a position for which I wasn’t ready. I’m thankful that His ideas are different than mine. I’m thankful for the perfection in His plans and the awe I’m wrapped inside thinking of how faithful He is, even when we’re not.
When God makes a promise, he always comes through. On Sunday, February 18, 2018, I was blessed to lead worship at Sow Chicago Community Church, a church where my husband is the lead pastor and church planter, and I am the Worship Director. How cool is that?
Isn’t God amazing?