Monday, February 28, 2011

You've got a friend in Me...

I sat down today with the intention of writing a post about one of  last night's Oscar winners, Randy Newman. What could be more entertaining than a piece about a singer/song writer who once recorded a song about short people and is now famous for songs written for short people? I've never really held that first one against him either...

But I'm going a different direction. A much different direction at that. I'm going to talk about our awesome God.

I was an emotional train wreck yesterday at church. For as much as I try to come across on Tony C Today as a hard-nosed. rock-gut former Jarhead, the truth is I'm often reduced to tears at the things I see God do. Now He already knows this, but for the sake of my faux-macho image I try to maintain, let's please not spread around that I'm prone to the water works.

After a very pleasant Saturday night dinner with two very good friends, I was in bed a little earlier than normal because I was attending early service Sunday morning. The church I attend has two worship service, one at 8:30 and one at 11, with Sunday School sandwiched in between. The second service is a contemporary-style service, and since I play drums in the Praise Team, the one I normally attend. On occasion, I do play drums for the choir which usually sings for both services. As it would happen, the choir was down in numbers for a variety of reasons, and needed a few bodies for both services.

Let me state, I do not profess to be a singer. I can, however, lip sync to put Milli Vanilli to shame (just google it young people), and the Choir Director is a person very dear to me. He has been my musical mentor for the past several years, and I'd definitely take a bullet for him (sorry, off setting the mushy stuff). To boot, he had been sick in that early morning, yet there he was being as obedient to his service as always.

Running behind as usual, I get there with just moments to spare. We throw down on a few hymns for the traditional worship service (which I've really come to enjoy playing), then it's choir time. I squeeze out of my drumming corner (literally) and head for the stage. As I look around at the thin numbers, it suddenly hits me I'm the only tenor in attendance (and I use the category tenor very loosely). There will be no lip syncing, plus the two songs we are singing both have parts that feature the tenors.

Sweating profusely doesn't do descriptive justice to my state at that moment...

The Director is looking at me nervously while trying to convey confidence all the while I'm sure afraid I might fall out at any moment. I took a deep breath, said a little prayer reminding God about the line in His word on making a joyful noise, and prepared to send something His way giving it my best shot.

Now let me also state for the record that when all was said and done, I still won't be expecting an invitation from the other two guys to replace the late Pavarotti in the The Three Tenors. But, I did have a feeling of peace for doing what I felt God wanted me to do.

I stayed for the first sermon and really enjoyed/related to the message. Blessing. Sunday School finished up a seven-week series that has really changed the way I look at certain aspect of my life. Blessing. As people filed in for the second service, God apparently just decided to dump His blessing pitcher right on my head.

I've been praying for two different people at church for two completely different reasons, and both of them walked right in for service. I got to briefly talk to both, fighting back tears, before it was time to take my place. As the choir assembled, I now had a couple of true tenors around me to shoulder...ahem...the load. But apparently that wasn't enough because a young man I've been encouraging to sing in the choir for some time walked right up and stood beside me.

Let me add that his dad was standing in front of the choir ready to direct for a second time despite his rough night medically. That's right...same guy. He needs no better example of obedient service to the Kingdom than the example his dad sets on a regular basis.

As we prepared to sing again, I looked out and seen my two friends sitting with their respective families. I saw my own family preparing to worship together too, and I saw so many people I deeply love and care about coming into one accord. Combined with my young friend standing beside me ready to belt out God of the Ages, I was overwhelmed with joy. Dropping my head, I started to weep, and I didn't care who saw it either.

I sang a lot louder the second time around. The Praise Team had two songs to play too, and we were well into the second song before I finally got it together. Mrs. Tony C said after the fact you couldn't tell my groove was off...but honestly...I really didn't care about that either. I was on a Holy Spirit high and nothing was stopping me from enjoying God's gracious blessings.

When I left for church early Sunday morning, I went with every intention of giving my best effort to God. When I left church early Sunday afternoon, God had given me far more in those few hours than I could ever give Him back in a lifetime of my best efforts. All I can do is share His greatness with others...and relish in your stories of His love along with you.


David-FireAndGrace said...

Yes, sir, that's my Jesus. I am so glad he visited you in TN.

Thanks, bro!

Tracy said...

OK so this brought tears to MY eyes. I can relate so well to God's blessing; to that looking out across the church sometimes and feeling overwhelmed by His presence and His grace in the lives of the people we know. Plus, I knew EXACTLY what you meant with the Milli Vanilli comment!