Sunday, September 13, 2009
the signature of God
Last night, I watched my friend Kim Collingsworth play the piano and marveled again at the artistry of God. As one of the premiere pianists in the gospel music world today, Kim has a style all her own. You do not only listen to her music; you experience her music. The majestic strains of the Hallelujah Chorus roared beneath her fingers, and those of us in the audience were on our feet for more than one reason. Handel's music is magnificent, but when it is coupled with a heart passionate in worship, the effect is euphoric. It is impossible to observe Kim at the keyboard and not be drawn into her expression of praise to her Lord. I felt tears in my eyes as my soul responded to her offering to God.
Musicians who play from the heart achieve that synthesis of soul and fingers that causes the lines to blue until those listening cannot separate the instrument from the musician. They are one, bonded with inner passion that makes the hand pulsate with the heart's expression. When one is in the presence of such art, the majesty of God is deafening. It is like the mighty Niagara--all those near it are overawed by its very presence. It spills onto the spirit and brings the being of God into focus.
The princple of offerings brought unto God is seen throughout the Bible. Before the atoning death of Christ, substitute animal sacrifices were brought to purify the people. But now since He paid the total price, God asks us to offer ourselves and everything He has invested in us. It is to be "a spiritual act of worship." (Romans 12:1) This is the kind of offering I witnessed in Kim's music.
The great artists know that they are reflecting something deeper and greater than themselves. Is that what Michelangelo realized as he swabbed the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? Is that what Bach pondered as he thundered out great fugues on his organ? Is that why the swell and tide of great music brings our palms together in a timeless expression of wonder and makes us rise to our feet in amazement? Probably. Whenever artistic expression causes in us a beatific awe, we can be sure that God is there. His signature is unmistakable.
The world is more lovely because those who have such gifts offer them up to God and let us listen in as they do. As Gloria Gaither said in a tribute to Rusty Goodman, we need these "poet troubadours" in our world. We need to feel their intensity, their dedication, and their rapture. We need them to take us with them into their world so we can better see the Creator in our own. Thank you, Kim. Thank you for being extravagant in your expression of worship through music. It brought Him into focus for us all.