What a blessing this past weekend was to my soul. Musically, we did well! We didn’t play perfectly, but I felt a sense of peace throughout our team that morning. Our hearts seemed to be in the right place. We knew that if we did our best, we could trust God to do the rest. He is the one who changes the hearts of people; not our music, sermons or entertaining announcements (or at least our attempts to entertain).
While talking to some friends after our services, I noticed a man waiting for me behind them. I half expected him to have a complaint about the music or some other aspect of our morning service so I delayed engaging him. My thinking couldn’t have been more wrong. After hugging my friends goodbye, I walked over to the man and shook his hand. My eyes widened as he started speaking.
“Hi Tobi. I’m a pastor from South America. I am only here today because my flight leaves tomorrow. I happened to attend the last service and wanted to encourage you. There is a brokenness in you that is blessing this church.”
His words hit me like a brick wall. I wasn’t sure how he could tell that I was feeling broken, but I knew I needed to listen further. I stood there listening to him for what felt like hours. Everything else seemed to blur around me as I heard words that spoke right into my current situation.
Two truths stick out to me from our conversation:
- Loneliness isn’t a punishment, but rather an invitation to walk more closely with God. God has created me, and you, for a reason; to bring glory to His name (Isaiah 43:6-7). Inherently, our hearts don’t want to live for God. I’d often prefer spending time with friends than in intensive prayer, but God has called me to something greater that “having a good time.” I need a heart reset; it needs to be fashioned after His.
Look at the life of David. He is often described as “a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22),” but how did that happen? Well, David spent most of his time in the fields tending sheep (1 Samuel 16:11-12). I can only imagine how lonely that must have felt. Yet, God used that time to work on David’s heart and prepare him to become the Israel’s next king.
My loneliness isn’t without purpose. God has removed distractions from my life so that I can focus on what He’s doing in my heart and submit to His leading in my new role at Seacoast.
- My brokenness blesses others. As some of you know, I tend to talk during or in-between songs. I often talk about how the lyrics, inspired by Scripture, can change our lives and encourage certain postures of worship as a response to them. What people don’t know is that most of time I’m talking to myself. I sing worship songs week in and week out. It’s easy to not take them seriously so I literally remind myself to do so (with a mic in front of my mouth while standing in front a group of people).
Many people have told me how my words have encouraged them, which in turn encourages me. No one’s got it all together. We’re all learning as we go and should walk together along the way. We were made to be in community.
I’m reminded of Paul’s words in Philippians 2. In verse 17, he wrote, “…even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.” Brokenness is like wine. Grapes need to be crushed to make wine. Life crushes us at times but when we share our stories with each other, we provide a sweet gift for others to benefit from.
I believe that God divinely orchestrated my interactions with my new South American friend and thank Him for it. As my wife wisely pointed out, God also divinely orchestrated the timing of this interaction. My heart was in the right place to receive what God had for me that morning. I wasn’t frustrated about a musical mistake or elated about some success. I was simply at peace and completely open to Him.
God used this experience to remind me of His perfect plan for me. I’m exactly where I need to be. The joys and pains of this transition are all part of God showing me more of Himself and in doing so, my desperate need for Him. I pray that remember this experience for the rest of my life.