Thursday, February 9, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 40

A Call to Ministry

Hmmmm. You probably didn't see that in these verses.

First, v. 2 reminded me of one of my favorite songs, so I wanted to put a video up of "Made Me Glad." I LOVE that song.

"I will bless the Lord forever.
I will trust Him at all times.
He has delivered me from all fear.
He has set my feet upon a rock."

v.6 reminded me of the story in 1 Samuel where Samuel told King Saul "Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention is better than the fat of rams." There's a great sermon in there. Read 1 Samuel 15 and you can read the entire story.

But Psalm 40:3 has a very special meaning in my life that I'd like to share today.

My Dad was a worship pastor. He started leading music in a church when he was 14. He and some of his friends at Oklahoma Baptist University were some of the first "Ministers of Music" (as we first called them) who went to school and got music degrees so they could work full-time in a church leading and growing a full scale music ministry: choirs, orchestras, handbells, big Christmas events, weekly music activities, etc.

When I was a young teenager I heard God's call on my life to follow in my Dad's footsteps and pursue full-time ministry through music. But as I went through my teen years and saw how demanding that "job" can be (Dad was NEVER home) and how mean "some" church people can be, I decided that I did NOT want to be a full-time music minister. So I got my music degree and worked part-time at a church and taught music at a Christian school. I taught handbells, choirs, orchestra... you know - music classes.

After a short time in doing this - part-time church, full-time school teacher - some people in my life, including my wonderful, godly Father-in-law, started saying things to me along the lines of "you know, you really should be doing church work full-time." All of the reasons why I didn't want to do that were still around, but recognizing that God speaks through leaders in the church, I began earnestly praying about whether God realllly wanted me to do full-time ministry through music. As I was praying and reading my Bible (over several weeks) God spoke to me when I read Psalm 40. The literal meaning of Psalm 40:3 may mean that David had a new song because of the new life he had found as he trusted in God, (the song of salvation as we makes us new creations) but to me at that moment God was telling me that my "new song" was to put aside the "song" of being a school teacher and take on the "song" of full-time worship ministry. And there was a promise to that "new" direction in life, "many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord."

There were other verses in this passage that said the same thing.

"I proclaim your righteousness in the great assembly;
see, I do not keep my mouth closed. - as You know, Lord.
I did not hide Your righteousness in my heart;
I spoke about Your faithfulness and salvation;
I did not conceal Your constant love and truth from the great assembly." vs.9-10

This is NOT to say that a person can't speak about God's faithfulness or salvation apart from being in full-time vocational ministry. On the contrary, everyone of us who knows God's salvation have a command to share our faith with others. But for me at that time in life it was God's affirmation of what many had been saying to me.

My life in vocational ministry has been wonderful ever since. Yes, there are still "mean" church members. Yes, there are times when the demands of ministry keep me away from home. But through the years I have managed to keep a much better balance of "church time" and "family time." And the joys of vocational ministry far outweigh a few "mean" people.

God has been faithful and many have seen my testimony - my witness - of God's greatness, goodness, faithfulness, etc. through music and worship ministry in the local church and in mission work around the world. Ephesians 3:20 13Now to Him who is 14able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, 15according to the power that works within us, 21 16to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

1 comment:

Phyllis Hobson said...

First, let me say that I am so glad you followed God's call in your life, you are just such a blessing to Hilldale, and also to me and Jerry - in the art classes you've taught (so patiently!) and the impact the worship ministry has on our lives.

And now to Psalm 40 - the first verse I really noticed, in The Message interpretation, was verse 4 - "Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God, turn your backs on the world's 'sure thing,' ignore what the world worships;" Jerry and I lived what I call our "poor years" when we first married. Later, we had more resources, but didn't spend wisely. Through the process of learning about finances and savings (shout out to Dave Ramsey and his teachings), we are doing much better. Through that, though, I can have the tendency to depend on myself and what the world would call a "sure thing" - a savings account, jobs, home, cars - as my security.

In reading this Psalm again (in the TNIV version), I saw verse 5 - "Many, LORD my God,are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us." That answers so much of my quest for security - the fact that God provides for us and has things planned for us. How many times have I held onto my own insecurities and bypassed the blessings that God has for me?