Friday, July 2, 2010

Singing in the Car

I pulled up behind a woman on Nicholasville Road the other day and noticed her head bobbing steadily. Then, her shoulders started moving and finally, her hands hit the air. Whatever she had floating on the air waves in her car had really "moved" her! I smiled - big. The first thought through my head was, "You go girl. Get after it! Let your hair down. Sing like nobody's watching..." ok, so maybe I didn't think that long, but I felt all of those things as I watched her... and I smiled. Such a simple thing, but such a sweet moment for me. Her freedom unlocked some joy inside my heart, and I was thankful for her.

Worship is similar. I have found that in leading worship, the more freedom I accept as reality in Christ, the more joy I can help the Spirit unlock in people who are frustrated, disenchanted or downright skeptical about God. Joy is undeniable and cannot be fabricated. Joy is not a smile or a laugh, joy is different. Joy comes from inside - and you just can't force joy to come out of you.

Joy can preach, too. You can have joy even when you're really sad. Joy is not happy. Repeat after me, joy is not happy. Joy is settled, sure, steady, peaceful and strong. Joy is resilient, not fleeting. It's more than a mood, it's a state of being. How else could the Bible say to consider it "pure joy when you face trials of many kinds"? (see James 1:2). James sounds nuts! But, he knows joy is not being thrilled you're facing trial. Joy looks further down the road than the present trial. Joy says, "Somehow, someway, God is going to use this for my good." Joy says, "This is building character into me in a way it could not have been developed otherwise." Joy says, "God's got this and because of that, I'm okay even though I don't feel okay." Joy is awesome, joy is available to you and joy reeks of hope.

The more freedom we experience in Christ, the more joy we have because we stop worrying about the Christians we should be, or shouldn't be and we start simply enjoying God. We start letting the truth about who He is and who He says we are really become the only truth that matters to us. We find that the joy of the Lord really is our strength (see Nehemiah 8:10). Right now, I'm praying that if you feel miserable, you will be reminded of the freedom available to you in Christ. People often think God is a rule maker and the punish-er of rule breakers. What a cheap shot at God to think that! He's a Dad and He's not stupid. He knows we need boundaries and ways to live so that we don't get kicked in the pants by a very real enemy.

Freedom looks WAY different than just doing what you want. Freedom is more like the play place in the center of Fayette mall - gated, padded, and made to be enjoyed. What if that place was full of sharp objects and cut glass? We'd have to restrict our kids way more than by simply putting them within the parameters of that white fencing. We often think the fencing is the trap - that it is what holds us back. Parameters seem like walls in the way of freedom. NOT AT ALL! Parameters give us more freedom than we could imagine and we don't have to worry - we can touch everything without fear of getting hurt. Same thing with God's "rules". Think about premarital sex, for example. If you don't have premarital sex then you don't worry about pregnancy or contracting a disease or making some really hard decisions. People think freedom is doing whatever they want but that kind of freedom leads to the thickest bondage of all - the tangled web of the consequences of sin. We've gotten this backwards for a long time.

So, I've decided to name that woman in front of me singing in her car, Joy, and to name her car "Freedom". I think it suits them both.