It was five years ago, on a hot August night in Orlando, Florida, that I unintentionally entered into one of the deepest valleys of my life. I had been fighting a summer cold but throughout the weekend had been singing through it as always.
However, on this night, as I was singing along, I went up to hit a high note, and suddenly there was no voice, no sound. I came back down and then tried it again, and nothing, not a peep. So for the rest of the night, whenever I had to sing a high note, I would choose a lower note instead and tried to simply survive the rest of the concert.
A few days later, after I had rested my voice, I tried to sing again—and still nothing. It slowly went from bad to worse. So after about a month, I finally went to the doctor where he discovered a polyp on my left vocal fold. He then said these words. "Outside of a miracle, unless you get this surgically removed, you will not be able to sing."
Suddenly I was faced with a crisis. I had never even considered what life would be like without a voice. Singing and leading worship was the only thing I knew. It's the only job I'd ever had. And now, I was faced with surgery, and if something went wrong in that surgery, perhaps never singing again.
I honestly did not know what to do. I had always stated that a mantra of my ministry is to "worship God as a lifestyle." But that is easy to say when life is good. Now, my faith was shaken and I was faced with a dilemma I never asked for and never saw coming. But then again, all crises are like that. None of us ever ask for a crisis to visit us. We don't go seeking out life-altering problems; they come and find us!
Crisis comes to everyone. No one is exempt. Sooner or later we will all go through that moment that turns our world upside down. But we all handle crisis just a little bit differently. We may think we are at a place in our lives where everything is under control, and then suddenly crisis comes our way. So the question is this: How do we grow in our lifestyle of worship when crisis comes?
Crisis exposes our limitations. But crisis also gives us an opportunity to grow. It has been said that a rubber band, once it is stretched, never returns to exactly the same size. So it is with crisis. Once we go through a crisis, it stretches us. It stretches our minds, our hearts and our wills. And it brings us to a point of decisive change. Crisis has a way of clearing away the clutter in our lives that does not matter, and focusing our lives on that which matters most. As a result, we grow and are never the same again.
God allows crisis to bring about change in our lives. But that change can be either positive or negative. And, as I've discovered, that choice is completely in my hands. As my good friend, Ike Reighard, always says, crisis can either make you bitter, or it can make you better. It's a matter of our perspective toward its purpose. Will I accept this situation as an opportunity to grow closer to Jesus? Or will I get angry with God for putting me through this?
So when we are faced with a crisis, we have to deal with the problem. And sometimes what we perceive to be the problem is really God's way of speaking into our lives in a much deeper way. I love what my pastor friend, A.R. Bernard says: "A problem is simply a mismatch between what we have and what we want." I WANTED my voice to work properly. I HAD this polyp sitting in the way. In my mind, the problem was the polyp. But God used this crisis in my life to reveal a much deeper problem than just a little ol' polyp. He saw that I WANTED to expand my ministry but HAD my selfish ambition in the way. And what better way to get my attention than to remind me that He is the one who gave me this voice to begin with.
Even though I thought the problem was my vocal issue, God knew my problems were much deeper. Little did I know that His plan was to temporarily break my voice so that He could ultimately break my will. God had to teach me that my job is to take care of the depth of my ministry, and He will take care of the breadth of it. I wasn't doing my part. I was trying to do His part. So I had to learn the hard way, that "when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor. 12:10).
As a result, I matured as a believer. I learned all over again that my voice is not the source of my ministry—God is. I learned through this whole process that I CAN worship God without a song, without a crowd, and without a voice. He alone is worthy of my praise and truly does want me to grow through the crisis.
Life is a marathon, not a sprint. And God allows us to go through crises from time to time in order to grow us and purify us and draw us closer to Him (I Pet. 5:7). So how do we grow in our lifestyle of worship when crisis comes? Worship Him anyway, even amidst your crisis. No, especially during your crisis.
God has not turned His back on you (Heb. 13:5). Rather, He has a purpose in mind to refine you and mature you. And He will help you through it each and every step of the way. "He is our Rock, our Fortress, our hope and our confidence" (Psalm 91). Where does our help come from? It comes from the LORD (Psalm 121).
Charles Billingsley is a nationally known recording artist, worship leader, teacher, author and pastor. His most recent album, Only Jesus, encourages the listener to take their focus off of the situations around them and to focus their heart's attention on worshipping the only One worthy of praise, only Jesus.
For the original article, visit pastors.com.
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