Special Music

If you've grown up in (or just visited) a Baptist church, you know that we have some little phrases that are all our own. One of those is "special music" (typically the song/songs that are sung right before the message). 

"Who's providing the special music?"

"So-and-so will now come and render (render???) the special."

"Special music provided by..."

It sounds funnier the more you say it, especially since "special" reminds me of the lunch combo of the day at a diner and also because, as we all know, sometimes the special music is... not so special. (Those are always the best services, aren't they?) 

Despite my trembling voice and need to grip the microphone with both hands, I'm lucky enough to be involved in the "special music" now and then. And this week, when our trio was scheduled, we planned a time to practice and discussed, like we always do, what to sing. We didn't have a lot of time, so we picked a song we've done before that wouldn't require a ton of practice. But when I got to the church to meet Blake and Lauren this week, I started flipping through an old choir book and found a song, one we sang in college sometime, and felt a little nostalgic, stumbled played through it, and told Blake, "Hey, maybe we could sing this one."

I'm not a spooky "spiritual experience" person, but the minute we started singing it I thought, "The Holy Spirit must have changed my mind about the song." It's a good thing I have nerves of steel (ha!) or I wouldn't have made it through without blubbering. It's amazing how God puts things in our path that just so happen to speak just the right words into our circumstances, and this was one of those "coincidences" (not really) that made me think WOW. 

When we sang the song in church yesterday, I got chills all over again singing (and thinking about) the words. 

In the storm, the wind, and rain
We have found a hiding place-
Jesus, the Refuge for our souls.
So we're clinging to His plan,
And our testimony stands.
No matter what He leads us through,
We joyfully will go.

Though we may not understand,
We are sheltered by His hand.
Jesus is fully in control. 
So we'll press on in faith
Til we see Him face to face.
Yielding to the highest call,
We'll let the whole world know.

Whatever it takes, whatever it costs,
We'll give our all and take up our cross
For the glory of Jesus and the gospel's sake.
We'll carry on doing His will;
Through every trial praising Him still.
We'll proclaim 'Jesus saves!' 
Whatever it takes.

It isn't often that a song just slaps me upside the head, but this one did. Praising Him still? Fully in control? Joyfully will go? I don't know about you, but when life gets hard, praise is usually the last thing on my mind. (Does that make me a terrible person? Oops. Now you know.) And when God asks something of me that seems scary, I don't know that I go "joyfully" every single time. (You're learning just how rock solid I am. Be inspired.) Seriously though, it's SO easy to get up and sing a "special" (well, not that easy for me, actually) but still... sing a special, nod your head and "amen" through one, whatever. We hear these songs and words and think, "That's nice. I wonder why that alto is shaking uncontrollably?" instead of "Man, will I follow Christ and trust Him and share His gospel... WHATEVER it takes?" 

I love the way this song ties two ideas together. It's usually one or the other; "Jesus is awesome and takes care of me" or "I'll give my life to God no matter what." But they go together, don't they? Life is hard and we all face things we'd rather not deal with, but there is still a world in need of salvation and we have to (get to) do the work of God regardless. We have to take up our own crosses- whatever it takes. (We also get a reality check when reading the Gospels and remembering that no cross Jesus asks us to bear, no matter how painful, comes close to the agony of Calvary. Ouch! That's always a brutal reminder of how pathetic I really am.) 

But since life IS hard and problems DO abound, how do we go about being all gung ho for Jesus? We trust. We have faith. We obey. We put aside what usually boils down to petty problems (not all, but most) and realize that we minister and serve and live "for the glory of Jesus and the gospel's sake." Not because it's easy, or because it always feels good, but because it's His will. 

Speaking of "the will of God..." someone said to me recently that walking by faith is just obeying one day at a time... doing God's will TODAY and not worrying about tomorrow. What is God's will then? Is it a big, empty thought bubble floating above my head that I wait for God to magically fill with just the right words? Nope. It's living for His glory and the gospel's sake- TODAY. It's doing whatever it takes to share God's truth- TODAY. And it's putting aside worry, doubt, and fear and resting in the promises of Scripture- TODAY. 

Another line in the song says, "We will not offer God that which costs us nothing- no sacrifice too high for us to make." Sometimes God asks things of us that are hard. I don't know about you, but I'm not all that crazy about being pushed outside my comfort zone. I believe that's why it's called a "comfort zone" and not a "discomfort zone"! But all the discomfort or inconvenience or uncertainty in the world is not a sacrifice great enough for the Lord... again, remember the cross? Doing something a little scary can't even BEGIN to compare with giving my life for strangers who don't deserve it. Most of what I consider a sacrifice doesn't really cost me more than a few moments of awkward conversation (which, clearly, isn't that unusual for me).  I think Jesus proved what true sacrifice is once and for all.

So, I'm grateful that I chose this song (and that we finally got the soundtrack to work... a whole different story.) And I'm thankful that I get to sing with my friends. But mostly I'm glad that Jesus IS in control, that He IS a refuge for our souls, and that I am sheltered in His hands. And because all that is true, I should be willing- excited, even- to give my life to Him completely. Easy to sing, not always so easy to remember. 

Thank goodness for the "special music" to remind me! 



  1. Ash,
    I definitely sensed the Spirit's presence in the service yesterday, and you conveyed the message of the song beautifully! I could see from the expressions on your face while you were singing that you meant every word:) I am so thankful when God uses the message of a song to encourage and challenge us!! Thank you for allowing the Lord to use your vocal ability no matter how intimidating belting that harmony sound in front of hundreds may be:) You always sound amazing! Love you my friend and thanks for sharing!! Kristie

  2. Amen! Excellent! Thank you for the reminder in the message of the song and also for the reminder to really LISTEN to the songs - whether they are "special music" or the hymns we sing, we need to pay attention to the message they convey! God bless you!


I love reading and responding to your comments. Just make sure I am able to do that by linking your email address to your profile! Thank you for stopping by!