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I love music, particularly worship music. It’s amazing how the right words sung softly over the right guitar rift can just move me to worship. There are several songs in my iTunes that are my “go-to” songs when I want to be reminded of God’s character or just need to soften my heart and flesh a bit.
A few days ago, I was reading my Bible, and for whatever reason, I just wasn’t into it. I was distracted, my mind kept wandering, and I found it increasingly hard to grasp and focus on the scriptures in front of me. We’ve all had those moments when we’re studying the Word and just don’t feel like it. Sometimes it can feel more like a chore than a joy. So, feeling all of this, I went to my iTunes and started up my trusted playlist. But this time, I felt a little something different than usual. I felt conviction.
Why is it that the strumming of an acoustic guitar stirs my heart more than the literal Word of God? What does it say about me that I need music to, in a sense, woo me to a place where I can focus on my Lord and Savior who I claim to love so much?
What does it say about my heart that I need to feel something or be moved in a certain way before I’m in the right state of mind to read His word? Is God not enough? Is His word not enough? Has my heart become so entangled with the things of this world that I need to be somewhat entertained before I can focus on scripture?
Hear me — there is absolutely nothing wrong with worship music. It is a beautiful tool that can soften the hardest of hearts and set us in position to hear more clearly from God. Worship music can remind us of His faithfulness, His character, and the great sacrifice on Calvary. But, it does not and should not take the place of the time we spend in His word.
I recently read the story of Esther Ahn Kim, who prepared herself to be imprisoned for her belief in Christ. She would memorize passages of scripture because she knew once in jail, she would not have the luxury of a Bible at hand. How many of us know more song lyrics than we do scripture passages?
How many of us are more moved by guitar rifts, drum solos, and notes from piano keys? How many of us reserve our time with God for Sunday mornings when there is a band, lights, and a stage all set up for our enjoyment?
Keep singing your favorite worship songs, don’t hear me wrong. But don’t let even your favorite artists fight for God’s attention in your heart. Francis Chan argues that the reason many of us fail to hear God clearly is because we have so many other voices in our ears, not all of which are bad. Some us of spend far more time with devotionals, worship music, sermons and podcasts, and not enough time between the pages of the Bible itself.
Abba, Your character is more than enough to strike inspiration and devotion in our hearts. Your inspired Holy Word is more than enough to draw us to repentance and worship. As we press into Your word, soften our hearts so we would be open to what You have to say directly to us. Convict us and call out the many things in our heart and mind that are competing for our attention and Your time.
Danielle Erwin hosts the Charlotte-based ministry, UNPLUGGED. She’s the founder of Pursued, a ministry aimed to encourage women to live lives that are truly reflective of Jesus Christ. Visit her web site at DanielleErwin.com.