Sunday, April 21, 2013

I Will Praise You When I Cough

Despite the giggling when I came up with this blog entry title, due to the magnificent song, "Praise You in the Storm," it has a real, honest-to-goodness message. And it's quite serious and sobering.

It's still a story about praising God despite the storms raging in our lives. It's still about praising God when things feel out of control and you look around frantically at something to hold onto only to realize there is only one Someone you can hold onto.

I've used this song as a lifesong for a long time. It's been an anchor for me to return to the Lord and my dependence on Him.

And while the title of this blog entry makes me giggle at times, and might make you too, it is as real as any storm.


For months I've been practicing with my church's Praise Team for our first big concert. We struggled along the way, had a lot of fun, and as the week drew near, something awful happened:

I lost my voice.

It was partly due to another storm, one much worse, going on in my family's life, that I'm not quite comfortable sharing here yet...but I had been talking to important people on the phone for 3 weeks or so non-stop, trying to get the help we needed; I had cried and become hoarse, and I then developed the flu.

Dress rehearsal came and I had to sing ever-so-softly because I wasn't sure if I would shatter my voice.

I admit I was a bit irate at God.

This is the one thing that has brought me joy throughout this other storm. Why would you take my voice away?

Though people told me that if I had the flu and had no voice, it was obvious I could not perform, I still felt determined to get through it. I practiced, albeit lightly, and my band-mates told me I sounded fine, but my own performance-based-self  was stubborn and demanded better quality.

I sucked on cough drops and chugged tea with honey.

And then I had a realization.

Thank God for kicking me in the pants on occasion to get me to realize the Really Big Stuff.

I am not in control, I realized. My voice is croaky and unstable and I have done all I can to mend it, but I am not the one who can ultimately pull this off.

And to whom am I singing my solo, "Wonderful?"  Sure, to the generous audience listening, but I wanted to pour out my love of Jesus with that song. Does Jesus care how I sound?

Jesus ate with sinners and dined with betrayers. He saw in them beauty and love and worth.

Surely He could forgive my croaky voice and hear my voice praising Him as beautiful.

Surely, He'd find it wonderful?

So the day of the concert, after drinking warm honey-lemon water all day, I went to the final rehearsal feeling good. I had a strange peace about me. I knew whatever voice God wanted me to have would come out that night.

And, friend, it could have been the constant honey-lemon water warming my throat or my lack of talking, but I truly think God smiled once I handed the reigns over to Him.

God loves how I love to praise Him with song.

But God does not love when I get bent out of shape on wanting to sound perfect or as good as so-and-so. He wants my true voice, croaks and all.

So I accepted that. I said: bring on the croak. Bring on the cough; I will still praise the Lord.

So as the storms raged in my life amidst the chaos in my family, as Husband and I were granted a slight reprieve this weekend and he joined the concert as the professional videographer, as I arrived in my Spring Easter dress and heels that were way too uncomfortable, I was comfortable and confident with whatever was going to come out of my mouth: croak or cough or beauty. 

I kept remembering how Jesus sees the beauty in the ugly.

And sometimes, what we think as ugly is beautiful to Jesus. 

So how did the concert go, you ask?



God's Spirit filled the sanctuary - for both musicians and audience.

And my solo came and went and though I did crack a bit toward the end, I just threw up my hands in praise and truly lived the lyrics I sang:

And my life will burn for you
'Cause your light shined in the darkness
I was hopeless
And you lifted up my head
To bring me joy
With a song that breaks
the silence
of my worship
now I'm singing all the day
and forevermore
You will be adored
For you are wonderful...

I believe I almost cried because I live those lyrics. I believe I almost cried because I desperately wanted to send those lyrics straight into the hearts of the listeners. God is wonderful. He is so much more that wonderful; I can't ever put it into mere words.

But I can sing it.

And I did.


After the concert, a husband of a band-mate approached me and thanked me.

I feel so uncomfortable with compliments the past few years. But what he said was exactly what I long to hear. This compliment was not about me, but about my love for Jesus.

"I could tell you loved that song. And I could tell you love Jesus."

It took my breath away.

I didn't want my voice to be the one to shine that night; I really didn't. After all the ego-pushing-aside, I wanted Jesus to be the one to shine through the songs we sang.

And praise God, we did!

So it is clear:

Jesus, I will praise you in this storm. I will praise you in the flu. I will praise you when I cough and freak about not being able to perform. And I will praise you when I give up my control and let You carry me through it.

Jesus, You are wonderful! -- photo by Talented Husband

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