The Praises of a Fearful Man
When I was growing up, my Godly (and I mean that in the purest sense of the word) parents had my sisters and me in church every time the doors were open. And sometimes when they weren’t! Our worship services were “open” but also very somber and subdued. Most if it consisted of sitting silently, waiting for someone to pray or read a verse as they were “led by the Spirit”. There were no musical instruments, and the acapella singing was always sedate and formal.
Now before anyone thinks this is me being critical, I’m not. I think that there is more than enough room in the Church for all kinds of ways of worshipping. But this was my experience as a child and youth, and those things stick with you. It was fitting to my parent’s personality, both of them were very calm and proper people. My mom’s main concern about who I was seemed to be based on “what will people think.” Again, not a criticism, just her view of things.
In all of this, I was not calm, sedate, proper, somber, formal, or subdued. (I was adopted, there’s the excuse!) A number of times this led to me committing what I would call “spiritual suicide”—I just couldn’t take it anymore so I completely went off the rails. This hurt ministries I was involved in and the people around me. I know now this was all because I was harboring fear.
I was afraid of what people would think, just like I had been taught. I was afraid of not being solemn enough. It defined itself in my selfishness, and inability to connect to others. I was afraid of not loving correctly, or singing correctly, or doing theology correctly. Or anything correctly. You just can’t live this way.
I had made everything complicated. My fear had chased away simplicity—the simplicity of God’s love. I don’t mean some shallow concept of God being lovey-dovey and “everything is beautiful”. I mean the simplicity of Jesus coming, dying for my sins, and rising up to prove I was now redeemed and forgiven by His grace. That was all lost in “proper” expressions and “proper” doctrine and “proper” theology. As important as some of that may be, if something obscures what it is meant to explain or exalt, then it needs to be put aside.
I live in a place where it can get cold on occasion. If you have to be out in it, you stop caring what you look like and just put on the heaviest things. Stupid-looking hats and clothes sticking all out are of no fashion concern, the only thing that matters is staying warm. Now wait for it… the parabolic meaning…
Why would we worry what we look like when we worship the lover and savior of our souls? Why are we “fashion-conscious” to the one who thought of and created everything there is? Why would we ask if our praise is proper, rather than ask if it is sincere, heartfelt, and from the depths of our love? Anyway, those are questions I had to answer for myself. After all these years, I just got tired of being afraid. “What will people think?” - ? What does Jesus think…
This song ended up going all over the place when I was arranging it, so I just let it and had fun with it. It’s nothing special but it makes me smile. The guitar solo at the end is my friend Buddy Wiegelman, recorded 20 years ago. (It's a long story how it ended up fitting into this, just a little bit of a miracle.) Also: thank you Ellis and Danielle Fortune, and Adam and Heidi Siek for helping me to re-find God's grace and encouraging me to not sit on my hands anymore. I love you with the peace and passion of Jesus!