As a young preacher, one of the most intimidating things was having a brotherhood legend as one of my elders. It took several years and someone telling me what was happening before I stopped getting nervous every time he took a note card out of his front pocket and wrote something down while I was preaching. (Rather than writing down something wrong I said or something he didn't agree with, I found out he was writing down what he liked and would use in his editorials!)

One of the things he did that often concerned our worship leaders was to simply bow his head and not sing while we were singing congregationally. This was most noticeable on newer, more "contemporary" — whatever that really means – songs. This sometimes threw our worship leaders and irritated congregation members. Finally, I just got up enough nerve to go share this information with him. His answer – which I can still hear in his scratchy voice, "Well, I sure don't want to be discouraging, but sometimes I just like to listen."

No big problem here. No big theological issue or quarrel with song content. With all he had on his plate, with all his years of ministry, with all his concerns about the future of God's people, sometimes he just wanted to sit there and be blessed.

We've lived through several weeks of icy weather in the western and central parts of Texas. Roads have been closed. Businesses, schools, and churches have been closed. On Wednesday evening, our services were cancelled on site, but our HIP service (HIP stands for High Impact Praise) was conducted at a chapel on a university campus in town. The acoustics were great. There were 4 of us over 30 there. As we began to sing with little or no amplification or microphones, the sound of 300 voices melding into one great sound of praise drove me to sit there in silence.

As I sat there on the verge of major tear duct leakage, I remembered my elder's old statement and made it my own. "Sometimes I just like to listen!" Like the right salve for an open wound, like a glass of cool water on a hot day, and like a breath of fresh air for someone coming out of a mine shaft, this singing filled a soul need. While I hope I'm never warped by an evil spirit as King Saul was, I sure understand how "the tormenting spirit would go away" when David sang and played for him (1 Samuel 16:23). Sitting there listening to these young adults praising God at the top of their voices in such beautiful harmony on a night when most folks in town didn't venture outside their door sent my tormenting spirits scurrying for cover!

I sat there on the verge of major tear duct leakage.
I have known for years that praise music juices me in ways that I cannot define. So if you see me with a throng of worshipers and I'm not singing, please know this truth: I'm not angry, I don't dislike the song selection, and I'm not offended by something, it's just that sometimes I just like to listen!


When you need your tormenting spirits to scurry for cover, what do you like to listen to? I'd love to hear from you on my blog:
http://blog.heartlight.org/phil/2007/01/power_listening.html