Monday, June 25, 2012

Take Me Now

This song was birthed during a time of burnout… The following entry from my prayer journal on August 29, 2006 tells the story behind the song:
NAU Psalm 46:10 "Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

It all started a week ago, March 6th.  I was feeling stressed out by the follow-up for Leo Schreven's Prophecy Seminar we had just finished, along with all the other responsibilities of ministry: Worship Leading, Discipleship, Meeting with Directors, the complaints of a neighboring church, and criticisms from those within our church.  I even called one of my directors the next night inviting him to pray because I had this strong feeling we were under attack spiritually.  Little did I know.

Anyway, back to the 6th of March.  I had just finished a visit with a woman who had decided to be re-baptized and join our church.  I should have been ecstatic.  But I felt ho hum.  I couldn't get over my own fears and struggles.  I felt a need to be with Jesus.  So I told myself I'm going to find a place to walk.  And after picking up some baptismal certificates at senior pastor's house I drove to Loveland and parked my jeep at the park on east 18th street.  There was a cement walkway leading behind some houses.  I decided to take it, not knowing where it led.  

I found myself walking along the west side of Boyd lake.  Soon I was beyond the houses and the crisp air and blue sky of God's creation was ministering to my heart.  In His gentle way He was breaking me down.  Eventually I came to a bench which lay by an inlet of the lake.  There I sat; looking at the mountains, longing for more, and listening.

After a while I was disturbed by this thought:  Where is my joy?  Where is my passion for life?  I used to love leading worship.  Now I despise it.  That really hurts.  

It hurts when you feel like Your quiet time is a rehearsal for the people of God.  Like your always preparing but never just being fed.  Never just drinking deep of the wellsprings of God's grace for yourself and yourself alone.

I think part of me was angry.  "Damn it, I deserve to be effective, connected to the Lord, powerful before his people."  I guess I had forgotten who The One with the power really is.  I had forgotten my role.  To be the conduit and not the source of power.  But when I struggle to be profound and powerful, I just end up being empty and joyless.  The spiritual gifts God has granted me with become detestable.  And His blessings become bland.

It was sitting there on that bench near Boyd lake that the Lord spoke to my heart:  

"Jim, what really matters is me.  Not what you say about me.  Not what other people think about you.  Not whether you had a good worship service yesterday or not.  What really matters is me.  My love for You.  The blessings I long to pour into Your life.  The intimacy I long to have with You.  Your heart's desire, if you could know it as I do, is not the praise of men.  It is not success or achievement.  Your heart's desire is Me.  What You really want, is Me.  I don't say this to be arrogant or egotistical.  I just say it because I made You.  I know You.  I love You."

I left that bench feeling encouraged, hopeful, and at peace.  I held out no hope regarding my worship leading.  I wasn't looking for joy in that.  For the moment, I was just satisfied with Jesus.  Just satisfied to be His.  

How soon we forget.  Sabbath morning,  after spending some quiet time with the Lord in which he reminded me the battle belongs to Him, I proceeded into war alone.  Frantically I pushed to get ready for the Discipleship Adventure class I was going to be teaching on both campuses, plus wrapping up the last details for our worship set on the West Campus.  My wife Ingrid came down to the office and said to me:  "I'm not yelling at you.  But what do you want the kids to think about Sabbath?  Do you want them to think of it as a day when they never see their father?" 

Ouch, that hurt!  But I didn't have time to realize she was trying to minister to a self-inflicted wound, I had a war to win.  The war of work, performance, and power:  Super-hero pastor to the rescue.

Everything went great at our East Campus.  Yes our numbers were down in the Discipleship Adventure Sabbath School class from the first Sabbath.  But they always tend to take a drop.  Nevertheless, I felt good about the class and good about myself.  In addition, Joe's worship team who had taken some heat from the weak before, did a great job with the worship.

Things changed at the West Campus.  Even before I arrived I was throne off by a phone call from Dennis Reed in which he told me there was a group of ladies at the church having a wedding shower.  "Oh no, we're not going to be able to practice because we won't be set up in time.  This is just great."  Before I finished my thought, he said, "Never mind, they told me we can go ahead and set up.  They are not using the sanctuary."  

Wheh, "everything is going to be o.k." I thought.

However, when we got set up, the sound check was a disaster.  Neither Brian nor Micah, my keyboardist and drummer,  could hear themselves through the monitors.  And the mix for the other singers was splotchy as well.  I don't think this was the sound people's fault.  Things were just falling apart.  I was falling apart too.  For the first time in my life, if felt like I had an ulcer.  My stomach was burning.  We made it through the worship set.  But at the end, I felt like crud.  Like Elijah fleeing from Jezebel.  I left the room with my tail between my legs.

Fast forward to this morning, 1:15 a.m. I wake up thinking about worship:  "Will I be the same flop on the east campus that I was on the west campus this past week?  I've got to get ready.  It's too early.  I need my sleep."  However, I couldn't sleep.  My mind kept going over the music, the worship, and what people are going to think.  Will they be engaged?  What songs will I sing?  I've got to contact the participants.

I decide I might as well get up and have some quiet time.  Remembering that our current assignment in the Discipleship Adventure is listening for God, I sat down to just shut up and listen.  But I couldn't stop thinking about leading worship.  And in the midst of that worry, God invited me to get out my guitar and just worship.  Not in preparation.  But just to pour out my heart to him.  

I began singing an unfinished song I had written over three months ago:

Take me now,
To a hiding palce
Let my heart find rest in you
In the shelter of your grace

Let love break through
Let hope be born again
Til all my fears are faith
And Your Spirit dwells within

Take me now, to a hiding place
Take me now, to the shelter of Your sweet grace
Take me now, til all my fears are faith
Take me now, to a hiding place

After singing through this little chorus, for the first time I had verse.  I really believe God gave it to me out of the heartache and hurt of the past week.  Even as I was singing it out, my stomach was burning like it did Sabbath Afternoon at the West Campus sound check.  The verse he gave me says:

My heart has been weighed down
With worry and with care
There's no rest to be found
For this weary soul anywhere

Lord I need to hear Your voice
Calling my name
Away from every fear
Away from every shame

And then I sung out the chorus with hot tears streaming down my face.  Jesus had broken through.  

It's amazing, thirty minutes earlier, when I was walking down to the guest room where this all happened, I was saying to myself:  "When I start journaling this morning, I'm going to tell the Lord:  'I've got to hear from You.  You've got to break through and speak to me.  I have to feel Your intimacy in my life once again.'"  Funny how God answers our prayers before we even get them out of our mouths sometimes.

Isaiah 65:24   "It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear. 

So in the midst of my heartache and hurt, God was answering.  I finished the song to the sound of shear silence.  My heart was at peace.  I wasn't quite sure what God was saying.  But I knew he was with me.  And then these words came to my mind.  And I learned a lesson in discipleship I will never forget:

A song makes the silence sweeter, and silence brings meaning to the song.

Afterglow:  After writing all this, I felt the need to share.  I called my friend Laurence Burn.  He told me he had been struggling to find intimacy with God; to get up at 6:00 a.m. and spend time with his Savior.  He told me my call was an answer to prayer.  God awoke him a few minutes before six this morning.  He went back to sleep.  And exactly at 6:00 a.m. God had me call.  This wasn't our doing.  It was our Father's.  We wept together.  We prayed together.  We met God together. We experienced the reality of Matthew 18:20 together: "Where two or three are gathered in My name, I am there in their midst."   

Laurence talked of feeling that the dream for the Discipleship Adventure has died.  No more travel for NAD.  No more training.  No more advancement.  He's stuck at his current job.  

The thought came to my mind which I shared with him:  "In order for a dream to be re-born, it must die.  And isn't re-birth what we all want?"

His reply:  "Yes, and the re-birth of the Discipleship Adventure must begin in the morning."


If we mourn in the morning
We will rejoice in the day
And if we rejoice in the day
We will rest in the night
O come blessed Sabbath

--two disciples and their master

So that’s the story behind Take Me Now. And my prayer for you dear friend is that in the midst of your weariness and worry, Jesus will take you to a hiding place. I pray your heart may find rest in Him, and His love may break through for you.
Take Me Now
©2005 words and music, by James Moon
Take me now, to a hiding place
Let my heart find rest in You
In the shelter of your grace
Let love break through,  Let hope be born again
Til all my fears are faith
And Your Spirit dwells within
Take me now to a hiding place.

Verse 1
My heart has been weighed down with worry and with care
There’s no rest to be found for my weary soul anywhere
Lord I need to hear Your voice calling my name
Away from every fear, Away from every shame

Verse 2
The demons of this world, they linger all around; 
Demanding my soul, they would seek to drag me down
O Jesus carry me away on eagles wings
to that blessed hiding place, where my heart first learned to sing.

Take me now, to a hiding place
Take me now, to the shelter of Your sweet grace.
Take me now, turn all my fears to faith
Take me now, to a hiding place

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