Glorious Rigor

Scroll this

[dropcap3]I[/dropcap3]magine the impact of a musical performer, thoroughly trained to maximize her God-given abilities, who surrenders her audience’s applause to the God who sings over her (Zeph. 3:17). What a testimony of humility as she attributes glory to the Giver of every good and perfect gift! My life-long goal is to cultivate my God-given talents to the best of my ability, to engage my audience in contemplative worship as I perform, and to cause my desire for self-recognition to fade so I willingly defer adulation to God.  By displaying the talents with which I have been blessed, I seek to make God’s creative mastery palpable so my audience is irresistibly drawn toward the Creator of music.

Three years ago, I entered the music education program with dreams of influencing young lives. My dreams have become realities when my fellow music education majors and I host music workshops for children whose clear-eyed joy increases with each musical discovery. These children’s excitement gives me hope and propels me to persevere through academically demanding semesters, for the reward far outweighs the rigor.  By God’s sovereign direction and gracious counsel, as I study at PBU, I am growing and gaining experience through the pursuit of a musical career.

Traveling to Poland with the 45-voice Chorale this May has taught me that music making represents the diverse functions in the body of Christ as a collaborative endeavor. Performing with Laudate, PBU’s traveling solo performance group, in churches and schools has enlightened my mind and ignited my heart for musical ministry opportunities.  I cherish the memorable interactions, hilarious anecdotes, and personal testimonies shared in our small vocal ensemble, Chamber Singers. We are anticipating a wonderful semester of diligent musical study and intense, joyful preparation for another international musical tour when, Lord willing, we will travel to Japan with Makoto Fujimura in December 2011. God has indeed blessed our university with many opportunities to spread His truth to receptive audiences worldwide, and I am grateful to be a participant in a few international endeavors.

Amidst these exceptional opportunities to travel and perform comes the struggle to remain grounded in humility without elevating my view of my talent. Musical performance holds great power; it can be an act of worship or an act of pride. We should seek excellence in order to be like God, not a god. Walking a different path is realizing that the bottled potential in pursuing music will be uncapped when we deny ourselves and fix our eyes on Christ. Although our spirits strive within us, seeking our own glory and fame instead of our Creator’s, as biblically minded musicians our goal is not self-exaltation but God-glorification. Do we defame the Giver of this good and perfect gift by claiming the glory for ourselves instead of seeking to expressively share His truth with a listening world? Too often I am convicted of spiritual plagiarism – selfishly claiming an achievement as my own and stealing the credit from its rightful Author.

Walking a different path means daily traversing an unconventional heart path as I set my affections on things of heaven rather than things of earth (Matt. 6:20).  I choose to embark on a culturally unacceptable journey: one that denies self and exalts the selfless One, one that refuses to submit to society’s call for self-advancement and promotes God’s eternal purposes, one that deflects glory from myself and defers it to God.

My desire to pursue creative musical expression reflects my design as an image bearer of the divine Creator. Being an imitator of God involves sacrificing my desire for a moment in the spotlight to become the radiant reflector of the Creator of sound, order, and beauty. God’s name and renown, not my own, is the desire of my heart (Isa. 26:8). I gladly sacrifice applause for His adulation, recognition for His righteousness, and fleeting words of commendation for His eternal affirmation, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” My heart echoes Isaac Watts’ statement of surrender – “All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.”

I hone my musical skills and pursue excellence because God’s glory demands nothing less. Instead of burying my talents, I learn to play and sing skillfully to the LORD (Psalm 33:3). The sentiment of my choral conductor, Dr. Shockey, resonates in my mind – “I refuse to bring mediocrity to the King of Kings.” Since God never withholds His best from me, how can I withhold my best from Him? “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17).

[framed_box]Heidi Zentz is a Junior in the School of Music and Performing Arts, studying Music Education: Voice. She traveled with the PBU Chorale to Poland in May with SEND International. She has been a member of the Chamber Singers for the 2010-2011 season.  In December 2011, the Chamber Singers will tour in Japan. More information about their trip can be found in the Advancement Update.