During the Summer of 2011, I had a series of dreams on leading worship and some other seemingly random things. I want to share specifically about the dreams where I was leading worship. In each of these dreams, I remember feeling very anxious and stressed out. The dreams typically started shortly before the worship gathering, and I was always unprepared: equipment wasn’t setup, music wasn’t prepared, people were gathering, and at least half of the dreams took place in an unfamiliar location. I couldn’t even find my guitar in one of the dreams, and I ended up finding it randomly on top of a ridiculously gigantic organ. In at least one of the dreams, I remember being distracted and extremely embarrassed… I forgot to set something up, got the wrong guitar, all the while in front of people gathered and waiting… waiting for me.
Fast forward to December, 2014 when I had a couple similar dreams about leading worship. First, I want to communicate two things: 1) God’s ways are higher than our ways, and his timing , though we may not understand it, is good and perfect. 2) God speaks to us today through dreams, visions, and seemingly unexpected ways. On December 26, 2014, I was laying in bed. I think I was in that stage of falling asleep, sort of awake but mostly asleep. The Sunday before, December 21, was my last day on staff at Trinity Baptist Church, and we (shift115) were going to be leading worship at Center of Life International Church downtown that coming Sunday, December 28. One of the songs we were singing was “Our God” by Chris Tomlin. As I was laying in bed, I was singing the chorus in my head: “Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other…” and I had an image of a bodybuilder flexing as if he were trying to draw all sorts of attention to himself and his muscles. As the chorus went on, there appeared another guy, like a model, also a bodybuilder, flexing and drawing attention. It was both awkward and interesting at the same time.
That night I also had a dream that I was leading a three-hour class, and one hour of it was devoted to a time of worship together. The dream started, I would guess, about a half-hour before the class would start, and I was trying to get some things set up. The keyboard we had reserved wasn’t there. The people who were going to be playing with me weren’t there. The teacher wasn’t there, and when she finally came, I found out we only had one hour instead of three. I left my half-setup equipment to go find the keyboard and found it down the hall being used by some strange live studio band as a prop. I was very stressed and upset, and I was only able to talk with a security guard there and told him we were supposed to have it reserved for our class and worship time. I hurried off, because I realized the class was starting and I didn’t even have things set up yet. I had a hard time getting back to the room we were meeting in, getting lost in a stairway and having to go outside before finally making my way back. By the time I made it back, it was fifteen minutes after the class started… I was very anxious and unprepared.
Keep in mind, I consider myself a pretty organized person who likes to plan ahead and know what’s going on. So when I first had these dreams in 2011, I thought maybe God was affirming in me the importance of planning well and not leading unprepared. I think there is truth in that. However, when I had these most recent dreams, I felt like there was something more. On Sunday morning, December 28, I was spending time with the Lord, preparing my heart for worship at Center of Life. After these last couple dreams, I had asked the Lord for clarity and what, if anything, He was trying to show me. As I stilled my spirit in silence, He spoke to my heart: “It doesn’t matter how well prepared you are, how awesome your song choices are, how smooth your transitions are, and how “put together” everything is. Those things don’t matter if you’re not seeking me first, following my Spirit’s leading, abiding, praying, pursuing ME.” Don’t hear this wrong – God uses the foolish things of the world, and I believe that He works in us and through us. Even still, He calls us deeper, and He calls us higher.
As I looked at my journal entries of all these dreams, here are some words and phrases that stuck out: “distracted”, “embarrassed”, ”wandering”, “strange”, ”unfamiliar”, ”anxiety was focused on the songs”, ”I felt like we were COMPROMISING – “let’s just do these songs.”” When I asked the Lord about this, the Lord reminded me that I need to be careful not to draw attention from people in leading and that I need to encourage people to get over themselves, as Jesus encourages us to do – to not be distracted by ourselves or distracting others as we worship privately and in community.
What I really feel these dreams pointing to is the importance of deeper rhythms in our lives as worshipers of Christ. Whether you’re involved in worship leadership or not, this is something we each need to pursue through relationship with Christ. So let’s take more intentional time to be still and worship God privately and ask what’s on his heart – listen, respond, be obedient! This isn’t only important as we prepare ourselves for planning times of worship in community. It’s important to do daily as we seek Christ in our everyday, ordinary lives.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.” Romans 12:1 NIV