This is probably the most famous quote from the bible that isn’t always attributed to it. Love waits. In today’s sex-charged media, Love Waits has come to mean waiting until after marrying each other to have sexual intercourse. Somehow, the thinking that “if you love me, you’ll do it with me” is becoming the norm.
But that’s not what I’m going to be talking about here. I”m going to write about a love so patient, it blew me away.
Yes, I’m talking about Jesus.
I distinctly remember walking late into a movie theater where a congregation was meeting for church service one Sunday morning in January 1988. I was late, because I had not been able to slip away from the house early enough (this was during the time when my parents didn’t allow me to attend any worship service except the Catholic mass). As I walked in, the pastor started talking about things God may be calling you to do.
“Maybe He’s called you into the music ministry,” was like a bullet that shot through me. I knew those words were meant for me. After they finished the service, I walked down to the front and waited in line to talk to the worship leader. As she bent to talk to me (the stage was about 3 feet high), I told her:
“I’d like to join the music ministry.”
She very wisely began to ask me questions. How long had I been a Christian, how long had I been going to their church. Then she told me to try out for the choir.
For some reason, I never got there. Sometime later, I met a jazz musician, a guitarist, who encouraged me to take formal music training. I still remember his sales pitch: “It’s not true what they say, that there’s no money in being a musician. There’s a lot of money here. You just need to work hard.”
Hmm. Work hard. Not be exceptional. Just work hard.
I eventually ended up auditioning and entering the College of Music of the University of the Philippines Diliman Campus, where until 1989 I had been struggling to complete my BA Communication (major in Film) degree. I shifted to music in 1991, very certain of my agenda: I would become a voice teacher. That meant I had to be better than performers so that I can prove I was good enough to teach.
Easier said than done. I’m basically shy on stage. I’ve overcome the fear of speaking in public, but not singing in public. I thrived on ensemble singing, hated having to do solos. It was easy to avoid going solo at the College, we had a too many who loved to do it, and they loved me for not competing with them.
But I was just totally insecure about my singing. I knew I was good in an ensemble. I can make the lead singer sound good, and because I usually sang alto, I was barely noticed. It’s the sopranos who seem to get most of the acclaim, and I was okay with that.
Still, I had my goal: I would teach. I would teach church singers. For my students I sing, but my greatest proof of my ability to teach were the students themselves. They learned to like how they sounded, they learned to enjoy being on-stage, they learned to overcome their fear of performing.
AAAAAARGGGHHH!!! Teacher, teach thyself!!!
I finally stepped off the church stage in 2007. Thirteen months later, I sang in a bar.
It was my first visit to Gospel Jam, and because the hosts Mark Aranal and Jeanne Vicars knew I could sing, I became a surprise(d) guest. About five weeks later, Irl and I were given our own set for one Sunday. It went on regularly for about a year or so, until the car broke down and the commute became physically taxing. But we sing when we can.
It was good to be back on stage, to sing. Though my stage fright didn’t weaken. It didn’t matter if I was singing for people or singing for God. Only when I’m singing alone can you hear the fullness of my voice. Put me on stage, and I croak. Sometimes literally.
Then Saturday, June 5 2010, came.
I was walking out of the village to get a ride to church. There was going to be a training seminar for group leaders, and I was required to attend. I was chatting with God when suddenly, I heard myself say:
“I realize now that I’ve been deciding how to answer the call You put in my life, the call to music. I decided I would be a church musician, that I would be training other church musicians so that they can pass on the training, and so on. I realize now that I never asked You how You wanted me to do it.”
And suddenly I knew what He wanted.
The excuses poured out: “But I’m not a good singer! I’m ugly! And I’m old now! I’m almost 42! I can’t be a singer now!”
“So many out there who are better, and for some reason, people always have something to complain about my voice! It’s too thin, it’s too classical, it’s too — not pop. I’m too old to start now.”
So you won’t sing?
Sigh. “You know I’ll sing, Lord. You didn’t say be a recording artist and compete with singers half my age with twice my breast size. I’ll sing.”
It wasn’t until the end of the training that my heart got caught. They showed a clip from Kingdom of Heaven, the scene where Orlando Bloom made the men kneel, gave them the knights’ oath, and bid them: “Rise a knight!”
“What are you doing? Do you think making a man a knight will make him a better fighter?”
The title of warrior had been given me 11 years ago, while a pastor prayed over me. And yes, it is because my Lord has called me one that I know I can be one. It has not been easy, and I have tried giving back my sword so many times, letting down my shield and just letting the flaming arrows come. But the belt of truth is hard to unbuckle. I know Who calls me, I know Whom I follow. I know Who loves me, and I know to Whom I have pledged my obedience.
It’s taken me 22 years to put all this together, but I guess God’s not in a hurry. After all, the bible does say that God is love, and that love is patient.
GOD is patient. Thanks, Father.