1. To increase, especially in stages: step up production.
2. To come forward: step up and be counted.
3. To improve one’s performance or take on more responsibility, especially at a crucial time.
to walk with a long(er) and (more) energetic stride.
1. To enter into an activity or a situation.
2. To intervene.
Source: The Free Dictionary by Farlex
Half a year of running, avoiding, dodging, and essentially missing the mark because I was insisting on my way of doing things instead of accepting what had long been revealed. But guess who always wins the waiting game?
God, of course. Hands down.
I remembered several things this week, mostly from distant memories of testimonies that have challenged me. The past week, I decided to look it up. Trouble is, I asked Mr. Google to help me, and so I got slapped left and right with the search results – and to think I only opened one of them.
The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. Romans 11:29 on biblehub.com
Some of the others translations render irrevocable as “can never be withdrawn” (NLT), “never change” (ISV), “are not repented of” (ASV), “not subject to repentance” (Darby), “unchangeable” (KJV2000). There is one that took on a more active voice:
God never changes his mind when he gives gifts or when he calls someone. (GWT)
You can look for commentaries and sermons for the context if you wish, but I will just share my own.
February of this year, I was asked to consider stepping up from the ranks, stepping out in faith and stepping into a position of responsibility. I was given a week to pray with Irl, with the added encouragement to “get a word from the Lord.”
Romans 11:29 was the immediate answer I received even before the day was out, strengthened by Numbers 23:19: “God is not a man that He should lie, . . .nor change His mind.”
I had known since January 1988 that the Lord had called me to serve Him with music. So I excitedly reported that, “Yes, God says yes!” and I began to work.
And fail. And I mean F.A.I.L.!! None of this “First Attempt In Learning” stuff, but EPIC FAILS worthy of a Darwin Award nomination (but I’m still alive, so there must be hope I won’t win).
In the midst of that downward spiral of confusion, I got an invitation, again to step up from obscurity, step out of my shell, and step into the spotlight. True, there’s not much spotlight on the backup ensemble, but I still took it, with a not-so-noble reason included: maybe I can find a way to get my kids to watch the concert for free.
DOUBLE QUARTET REHEARSALS!! And my secret prayer – that Jodie and Roni not only get to watch but actually be part of the concert – was granted. They had fun on their first ever choir rehearsal, making new friends on their own, even if Daddy and Mommy were there. But because they were last minute additions, they made a radical choice to stay home on the Sunday before the concert, watching the church service via FB Live, so they could study the songs some more.
That was the Sunday when Pastor Alvin quoted Joshua 18:3: Then Joshua asked them, “How long are you going to wait before taking possession of the remaining land the LORD, the God of your ancestors, has given to you?”
That stirred me. Is it time, Lord? Are You telling me we’ll be settling my parents’ estates now, that I can start moving on it now?
Silence. After the final service that April 23, Irl called me as he asked for Pastors to pray over us for the next day’s concert.
We only had enough money to bring us there and get us back home, and enough food for the mid-afternoon snack. Everything else, including costume, hair-styling, and make-up for Jodie and Roni were provided, either by the producers, or by their new friends who brought several sets “just in case someone will need it.” They were grateful to have inherited Mommy’s dislike for high-heeled shoes, because almost everyone on stage ended up standing for at least 90 minutes straight (well, the drummer was sitting down the whole time).
As I called on all the training God had put me through until that point in time to be able to give a performance I want my Heavenly Father to be proud of, I heard my heart: “I’m home.” Then I felt it – I have to borrow Eric Liddel’s words, with a bit of editing, to describe it.
God made me for a purpose…and He also made me to sing. When I sing, I feel God’s pleasure. To give it up would be to hold Him in contempt. This is not about fame or stardom. To sing excellently is to honor Him.
Okay, so these words only really came together as I write this blog. But all the emotion in there came bursting from my heart that night. And I finally, finally! understood.
THIS was the inheritance that God has been wanting me to receive. Not just material land and property He put in my parents’ hearts to leave me as a legacy, but His calling. And not just music ministry in general, with all the other aspects of it – administration, production, training. I needed to understand all that, yes, but that was not His primary call for me.
He has always wanted me to step up onstage, step out of the shadows, and step into the light of His smile. This has always been His call, and He has NEVER changed His mind about it. In spite of my disobedience.
A few years ago, I lamented to a dear friend, “Is God never going to ask me to sing for Him anymore?” But today I can humbly admit: I was the one who ran from the stage, who ran from the spotlight. I was the one who, in my insecurity and pride, told God: “Okay, I’ll go into the music ministry, but I won’t sing. I’ll teach. Trainers are needed, too. Of course, I have to be really good to have integrity as a trainer, but I don’t have to be singing on stage.”
Thirty years. I was just going to say, “I wasted 30 years–” but as always, He is quick to respond.
In the Old Testament, Levites were counted from age 20, entered into temple apprenticeship at age 25, then active service from age 30 to 50, after which they could retire, or still go on serving, but with less responsibility. When I turned 48 last year, I was thinking, “only two more years to go before I have to step down.” But today, one month before my 49th birthday, God showed me a glimpse of His calendar:
January 1988 was when He birthed His calling in me. January 2018 is when it turns 30. So as far as He’s concerned, I’m still in training. I actually have 8 more months of training to go before He considers me eligible for active service.
It’s time for me to get ready for the day. And yes, writing is also another calling, so yeah — I should stop running from this, too. Stop running from writing my own words, words He put in my heart to overflow through my hands. It’s time to finish the books — yes, BOOKS, plural — I’ve started in the past 8 years.
Step Up. Step Out. Step In. It’s about time.