One of the songs we sing at Seven24, my college group at New Song Church, is Desert Song. I still remember the first time I was asked to sing it when I was next scheduled for the worship team. I had never heard it before, but a woman lead was needed. So I poked around on YouTube to find it so I could learn it. The first video I found was one that began with an interview by one of the women that leads it on Hillsong's album, Jill McCloghry. She talked about how a week before singing on the album she went into labor. She was only six months pregnant, but she gave birth to her first son, and he was alive. However, God decided to take him home shortly after. She was thinking about how she had to go and sing next week, and she knew it's what God had called her to do with her life but she wasn't feeling it--understandably so. She went on to speak about how sometimes we worship, and we simply cannot feel the presence of God because we are so broken. But that doesn't mean we should stop worshipping. Quite the contrary. Sometimes, our brokeness is the only way to bring the spirit of God to be present because he is the only one who is whole, and he is the only one who can fit all those pieces back together again. It comes down to a choice. A choice to worship, a choice to sing to God and for God even when we don't feel like it. But our circumstances in the different seasons in our lives do not change the fact that God is still God and he has called us to worship him. He is still ruling from his throne in heaven and he is still bigger than anything that is happening to us. I love this final quote from the interview, "Even when you're singing things you know are true but you might not necessarily fully understand yet, I think that just being able to look at God and say things that are true of him, and declare the word of God, and declare the promises of God, which is that when I'm in the fire and when I'm being refined, and when I'm in the battle, and when the triumph isn't here yet but it's coming, I think that you look at God, and you say, 'I know this is who you are' that He does get bigger in your life. And it takes over the things in you that feel so shattered, and it makes Him the focus, and it begins to put those things back together."
Listening to this story of Jill's is the perfect introduction to this song. Just read these powerful lyrics:
This is my prayer in the desert when all that is in me feels dry. This is my prayer in my hunger and need; my God is a God who provides. This is my prayer in the fire, in weakness, in trial, or pain. There is a faith proved of more worth than gold, so refine me, Lord, through the flame.
I will bring praise; I will bring praise. No weapon forged against me shall remain. I will rejoice; I will declare, "God is my victory, and He is here."
This is my prayer in the battle when triumph is still on its way. I am a conquerer and co-heir with Christ, so firm on His promise I'll stand. This is my prayer in the harvest when favor and providence flow. I know I'm filled to be emptied again; the seed I've received I will sow.
All of my life, in every season, you are still God, and I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship.
Wow, what a powerful message. Jill's story breaks my heart and to know that she could get up on that stage after God took her baby to heaven and she was probably filled with numerous questions that began with "why" and sing those words, that in every season, she believed with all the faith she could scrape together after being bruised and battered that God is still God and for that very reason she could sing and worship him. It takes my breath away. It is my deepest longing that I can have that spirit of worship at all times in my own life. God has been teaching me how to worship and this is crucial in understanding the essence of it. Right now, I'm feeling very close to God. He's teaching me and shaping me and encouraging me, and it's great. I love being able to feel his presence in my life. But I know it's not always like this. That there are times when I don't feel I can sing to him--when I don't understand why he's done something or why I can't feel him or why he's calling me to something I don't want to do. But I want so much to have Jill's courage to stand up and pour out my heart before him and say, "You are still God, and that alone gives me all the reason in the world to praise your name."