I sang an impromptu duet with my husband the other night. Let me mention that this is not something I go around doing, this singing in front of others business. But there I was up in front of 75 people at our church’s annual Holiday Dinner. This is a dress-up affair where actual musicians play music, and people pay to eat yummy food, and this year they also heard me sing a verse of my favorite Christmas carol. Only love could cause me to do such a thing. Love, and that quiet voice of His…
My singing wasn’t part of the initial plan. We stood in our kitchen, old hymnal held between us, singing, “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus.” I was supposed to simply read a verse of the hymn in the Holiday Dinner program, but somehow instead of reading it we were singing, and my husband, struck by an old memory, turned to me and said, “Will you sing this with me tonight? Instead of reading it? I know we don’t have a lot of time to practice, but don’t you remember our first anniversary? Leading worship together? Tonight doesn’t have to be perfect, but I would love for us to do this together.”
In the question posed by my husband, I heard the quieter voice of my Savior asking me to step out and set aside my fear of what others would think of our vocal offering. I knew clearly that my husband would be blessed by my choosing to sing with him.
And so I sang. Later, as we lay in bed, I felt conflicted. On one hand, I felt the good feeling of obeying the leading of the Lord and seeing the sparkle in my husband’s eyes as we sat down afterward at our table and he leaned over, kissed my lips, looked into my eyes, whispered, “Thanks.”
But I just felt so VULNERABLE. I had stood in front of all those people and really, I didn’t do a very good job at all. My breathing was all off and I was nervous and choppy and I wasn’t miraculously given the gift of being an amazing singer. I was just me.
I wondered in my heart of hearts if I should have done the safe thing, what I know I could do well, which was just read the hymn, NOT sing it.
And then I remembered, I felt similarly this Spring when some of our college student friends asked me to speak at a women’s conference for a local Christian group. My first reaction was, NO WAY!! I don’t do things like that. I don’t stand up in front of people and give talks. But after praying and listening, I felt I wanted to do it and SHOULD do it. So I did.
I did an OK job on the talk, but not great. I certainly didn’t hit the ball out of the park.
And the duet I sang with my husband? No ball hit out of park there either.
Yet, in both instances I knew clearly that I should do the things God was putting before me. I admit to secretly hoping that God would work a miracle and make me a riveting public speaker or an angelically good singer.
But He didn’t.
After listening to me try and explain my conflicted feelings, my husband sweetly said, “I know I should compliment you on your voice or something, but I don’t think that is the point.”
“No! I am not telling you how I feel so I can garner a compliment," I said, “On one hand, I know it was a faithful and right thing to do. I really felt like doing so was following Jesus. But on the other hand, in both instances it felt like I had stripped naked and then gone to stand out in the wind. Here I am! Naked! In the wind! Ok then, now I will go inside and get dressed…whew!!”
We laughed, and then my laughter quickly turned to tears as my husband said, “By doing these things, you show others that the most important thing to do is to follow Jesus, no matter if you look like a fool, no matter if he asks you to do hard things you are not good at, things that make you feel vulnerable and scared. You just need to keep following Him.”
What if Jesus asks us to do something we are not good at and to do it in front of others? What if we step up and say OK to His leading but we also hope he'll do something spiritually to fill in the gaps so that we won’t simply be mediocre, but really, really good? And what if He does show up and He gives us the courage to stand up and do the thing, and the miracle isn't the excellence we imagined but simply the standing?