19 Oct Heart on Strings
You may not know this: I had played onstage with a band only twice before the Conference. I say this not flamboyantly, or in jest, but to provide context to my journey as a praise band musician. I am ridiculously unqualified by human standards.
I am thankful to Rei, to Marc, who sat me down one Sunday and asked, “Would you like to play the acoustic guitar for the Conference?” My heart leapt. The initial response that surfaced in my mind was, oh, good Lord, no. The subsequent response as they peered intently at me was, perhaps… maybe… yes. I can’t bear to say no to their sincerity. The heavens must have a purpose. This feels like a call to action.
Saying yes was akin to wearing my heart on strings in the public eye. I grew up a reclusive and shy child, where I carefully stored my inner world behind a fortress of storybooks, dollhouses, writing and piano; if you realise, they are solitary activities. Teachers often wrote in my report card, “Stephanie needs to speak up”, or “Stephanie needs to come out of her shell”. To tie this back to my journey as a musician, this followed me in part to adulthood, and I had spent 6 prior years in the closet (or quiet time) singing into space. Bible, guitar and I. I was supremely comfortable and it was my fortress. Quite suddenly, however, my closet’s door was flung wide open by a single question on a balmy Sunday afternoon.
It felt as if Heaven’s hotline rang, and I picked up the phone. It was Christ calling me to serve His people with all my heart on display, no less, for He does not like half-baked love.
I will not go into minute details of my Conference experience, though know this: Jesus showed up, and the praise band had a whirlwind of a time sustained by prayer, kopi, grace towards each other, and Subway sandwiches hurriedly devoured for lunch. When He walked into the room and sat down at the front row each time, it was enough to redeem bleary eyes and calloused fingertips.
I will be first to admit that the post-Conference journey is an ongoing mind(e)-field of apprehension and insecurity as a musician. What sustains me though? The fact that He will walk into the room. The fact that He delights in using unqualified people. The fact that brokenness is a sweet sound to His ears. The fact that the praise band’s music is only an entry point to ushering His presence, while the congregation’s collective voice carries it to fruition.
From this unqualified person to another who may feel the same – join the club, and take the road less travelled with Jesus Christ. I love how Matthew 7:14 so aptly reads, “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” The journey will be a squeeze and our feet may slip; yet once we find Life, our doors will stay wide open to all He has to offer, the author and finisher of our faith.
Stephanie serves in the 3:16 Praise band as an acoustic guitarist.