As I sit here working on the photo books I make each Christmas for my grand kiddos, I turned on Pandora QuickMix to listen to praise music. Working with adoration music in the background has always inspired me! All Sons and Daughters, Chris Tomlin, Kari Jobe, The Brilliance, and Matt Redman are a few Christian artists I listen to. Several Spanish worship songs have come on as well. This warms my heart! While living in Peru, learning to worship in Spanish was what lead me to slowly begin praising Christ in a more outward manner. I am so grateful for those years that God deepened my relationship with Christ!
My heart is nostalgic as I sit here listening. This music and lyrics bring back many precious memories from over the years. I would stand in church, raise my hand and pour out my heart with a deep desire to please God in praise. It was both a fulfilling and life-giving expression of my love for the Lord.
I am the same person today that I was then… but now I’m Catholic! I really do miss the praise and worship so common in the Evangelical church! I have of late, however, seen that evangelical recording artists’ music is filtering into the Catholic church, and that thrills my heart! As Gary likes to point out when I share my journey with others, “One of the main reasons why Charlotte didn’t want to become Catholic was because she would dearly miss communal worship in song during the service”. Yes, that was a huge obstacle for me! Thankfully, I’ve been deeply blessed by the music of young Catholic artists as well, like Matt Maher, the John Blakesley Band, and for the softer sounds, Audrey Assad and Kathleen Fowle .
The youth of the Catholic Church in New York City attend a regular monthly worship service called Catholic Underground. They come from all over New York, New Jersey and beyond to worship Jesus, pray and read scripture together. I had been there a few times with Gary, but was never fully committed to it, because I had no interest in becoming Catholic. I usually went because he wanted to go and I didn’t want to hurt him. Their style of worship, however, intrigued me because it was so personal.
How many times does God have to knock on our heart’s door to encourage our obedience? As I continued to refuse to become Catholic, I knew I was disobeying God. So in February of 2015 I asked Him to give me a “sign or something!” to help me give in and obey His call to become Catholic. Imagine the smile on His face when I said that! I’m sure He had been waiting for me to open my heart’s door even just a crack! About a week or so later, He fulfilled my request and sent me a sign.* It was so clear that, in that very moment, I instantly surrendered my will to His and was confident that I should join the Catholic church! I called it my “mini-miracle”!
Catholic Underground’s next service was just five days away and nothing was going to stop me from going! I simply couldn’t wait to go! I didn’t tell Gary about the “sign” because I wanted to confirm it at Catholic Underground first, since it was my only connection with the Catholic church. So off we went.
The Surprise Gift
The musicians always focus on one main song and repeat it in a prayerful manner during the course of the service. This way every word is clearly heard and meditated upon. The Holy Spirit, through their reverence, music and lyrics, speaks gently to each one present.
I was ready to hear from God that evening, but had no idea about the gift He was about to give me! The chosen song for the evening was by 10,000 Reasons. As I heard the beginning of the song the tears began to flow. I knelt before Jesus in profound humility as I worshiped and thanked Him. You see, I had already decided to become Catholic because of the sign God gave me, but what I didn’t know was that He was going to surprise me with another special gift, one He knew I needed! I have always cherished that song in my personal walk with God! And it was done in a Catholic setting! That was the gift He wanted me to have! He was already proving to me that He is alive and well in the Catholic Church!
Needless to say, as we pulled out of the parking garage to go home I shared everything with Gary. He was certainly relieved because I had been so obstinate! But now all I could say was “yes, let’s do it!”.
So as I sit here worshiping God in my living room through the various songs played on Pandora I feel sad. Why? I grieve over the separation and spiritual blindness Satan has created between Christ’s followers in these two expressions of His Church: Protestants and Catholics. I’m both! I will always be both! I have the absolute best of both expressions of Christianity!
Why did God ask me to return to the Catholic faith? Perhaps to be an instrument in bringing healing to these two beautiful expressions of Christ’s love for us! We are not each other’s opponents. I’m a witness to that. Jesus Christ is Lord in both expressions and, I believe, so desires that we “be one” as He prayed to His Father in John 17 that we would “be one”:
“I have revealed You to those whom You gave me out of the world. They knew with certainty that I came from You, and they believed that You sent Me. Holy Father, protect them by the power of Your Name, the Name You gave Me, so that they may be one as We are one. My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave me, that they may be one as We are one— I in them and You in Me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.” John 17: 6a, 8b, 11b, 20-23
May we as Christians consider what we have in common with one another rather than what separates us. May we beg God to forgive us and bring healing to our critical spirits, I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
- If you want more details on that “sign”, please face book message me or ask me in the comments, leaving your email address. Thanks!