Be Strong and Courageous
I don’t think I could ever adequately describe this past week. I mean, I’m sitting here blankly wondering how I could ever make you feel the things I felt and experience the crazy, unbelievable events. This week has possibly put me through the most emotionally draining, physically tiring, spiritually growing weeks of my life.
A week ago I was saying goodbye to my roommate as school was winding down. While packing up my things in my dorm, I felt a tickle in my throat. That dreaded foreshadowing of the inevitable sneezing, coughing, runny nose that basically everyone has right now. Immediately when I felt it, I went to War-Mart and got some medicine hoping that would be the end of it. Little did I know the extent of what was to come.
The next two mornings I woke up with my throat so swollen that it was getting hard to breathe. The days following, the congestion had set in. It was by far the most severe “allergies” I have ever experienced. As some of you may have seen at Liberty University’s graduation ceremony, President Trump gave the commencement speech. It was Tuesday when I met with my team with half a voice. If the nerves of singing for fifty thousand people and the President of the United States wasn’t enough, try losing your voice only days before the event. With the solo for commencement, I felt guilt for causing uncertainty, disappointment for losing the honor of singing, and just confused. I tried to mentally have faith that God had a better plan than mine while also trying to cope with the new realization that I wouldn’t be singing anymore. (This was almost as hard as mentally preparing that I WOULD be singing haha).
I was in the studio with the director of my team and he said, “Mackenzie, I am praying through this and I believe that you are going to pick up a stone of remembrance at the end of this week.” He was referencing the event in the book of Joshua when the Israelites cross the Jordan on dry ground. The Lord then commanded that a person from each tribe pick up a stone from the middle of the Jordan River and place it on the river bank as memorial of the providence of the Lord. Understand, he said this to me the day before our Baccalaureate service and I couldn’t speak a full sentence.
As I was trying to recall the last time I was sick, I could only pinpoint distant memories and no specific point over the past year. As you can imagine, I sat in my car by myself just crying.. No voice. No explanation of WHY NOW?!?! Even when 10% of Liberty’s campus had the flu, I was healthy as ever!!! WHY NOW?!?! What would possibly be the reason?!?! But as I was in my car, I was praying my “correct” prayers to God! I was praying the “thy will be done” and “I trust your plan, Lord, even if I don’t get what I want!” But that’s when I was reminded of a point in Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. It was the chapter about how God is our friend. Pastor Rick wrote about how God wants authenticity from us because He is not ignorant to the way we function and to every thought we have!
That’s when I broke down… I CRIED to God… Why? Why am I sick NOW? I don’t see the reason. I don’t understand why You don’t want me to do this! I don’t understand why out of the past year of health that this is the week that my strength is stripped from me? I don’t know why I have to wake up in a panic every morning just wondering if You’ll answer all these prayers for my healing in time!
I was then reminded of my dependence on Him. Every ounce of pride and selfish ambition was then set aside because everything was out of my control. Vocalist MUST have control! I bank on the control of my voice or I would never allow someone to put a microphone in front of me. But the control of my voice that I put all this stock in was now totally out of my control. Voiceless, I desperately searched for anything I could get a handle on. When I realized my clenched fists were full of air, I released. I realized my worries were pointless. As badly as I wanted control, I was sweetly broken and reminded that I gave up my “rights” to control when I declared Jesus as LORD of the life I have!
The expectation of my recovery from my director was unwavering as he said we’d wait till the day of to decide whether or not I would sing. However, other plans were arranged and I went to sleep with no voice, but full of hope. I woke up the day we had three separate events to sing at and I HAD A VOICE!! Completely shocked and in awe, I had to now prepare to assume my role. I had never approached a service more dependent on the Lord. I walked on the platforms with a renewed realization of my dependance on the Lord to stand among thousands. With illumination on the subject, I knew God holds this voice of mine and it is at His disposal!
Commencement was a totally different story. That platform reached thousands upon thousands. Only the day before did I realize I would actually be up there. Throughout a week of dependance and crying out to the Lord, I received a new perspective of what commencement was. It was no longer this intimidating platform where I’d display my abilities. This had become far beyond what I, Mackenzie Wray, was capable of doing. Just days before I couldn’t even speak!! This wasn’t about me AT ALL!! Instead, I got to DECLARE to one of the most well known men in the world THAT JESUS SAVED ME!!! I sang that HE HEALED ME! And then declare He can also save all who are listening!!! If the crowd, President Trump, and Fox News and Facebook Live wasn’t enough to intimidate any sane person… walking up there knowing I was still recovering was topping it all off.
BUT CAN I TELL YOU WHAT!?
I walked up there with total peace as I looked at the crowd of people knowing that I GET TO TELL WHOEVER WILL LISTEN THAT JESUS SAVED ME!!!!!! WHAT?!?!?!!? Isn’t that every Christian’s goal!?! To proclaim to the masses that Jesus SAVES!!! Instead of just an event that would be cool to tell my kids one day, this day was a milestone in my spiritual walk. I am honestly writing this to just be a testimony of God’s faithfulness. God says he disciplines, teaches, and corrects His children because He loves us. He didn’t have me walk up on that stage without this beautiful perspective. God doesn’t see the US President based off of his political views, mistakes, or title. God sees Him as His creation. He sees our president like He views every other human; a man in need of God’s grace, love and guidance daily. And God used me to personally minister to him. What an honor!!
Immediately after, I said goodbye to my family for the next three months, jumped in my car and I made it to Amarillo, TX today on the way to California to intern at Rick Warren’s church at Saddleback. I know there will be many more blog posts to come about the Lord’s faithfulness, lessons, and blessings. But I hope you’ve been encouraged that the Lord loves us even through the things that make no sense at the time. God’s not absent just because we don’t get it. He’s bigger than our simple understanding. He desires our hearts more than our abilities.. And if you’re like me, that’ll put many of you at peace. Thanks for reading!