By: Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory
I’ve always felt closer to God in a mosh pit than in church.
I can’t explain how or why, but the Spirit comes to me as powerfully near amplifiers as at worship night. Through thick and thin, God finds me through song.
So it made perfect sense that, at Cap City, I first encountered God through music. I had what I later found out was Baptism of the Holy Spirit when the team played “Anchor” at my second service ever. I was painfully shy, but I felt God nudge me to get involved with the worship team. Luckily, the group of then-strangers welcomed me like family before I had a chance to second-guess my decision to reach out.
I postured myself to learn as much as I possibly could about worship – down to watching Hillsong Young and Free YouTube videos to learn how to un–awkwardly dance with a guitar. I’d played since I was 12, but started teaching myself the Nashville Number System at 26 (an admittedly ongoing battle). I looked for mentors everywhere. And despite horrible singing stage fright, I auditioned as a guitarist AND a vocalist.
But over six months of Wednesday-night rehearsals later, I found myself second-guessing the calling God put on my heart.
Was the fact that I wasn’t rostered God’s way of saying I sucked? Would the music I made actually scare people away from being saved and/or magnetize their arms to their sides during altar call?
Common sense said to give up. After all, I could see the same friends on non-Wednesdays without wasting their practice time.
But God said “stay.”
In my not-so-past life, I was a slam poet with a penchant for human rights and a bad case of Taylor Swift syndrome (sorry, exes). I was raised Catholic, but before being saved, I couldn’t quote scripture beyond Genesis or John 3:16. And – gasp – I’d never heard of Hillsong. I loved God, but save for some soul-searching during college, He wasn’t exactly my go-to subject matter.
I didn’t know where the words were coming from, but I embraced them.
The more I prayed, the more God told me that my holding pattern wasn’t a holding pattern at all. Rather, songwriting was the ministry I’d been positioned for, since it’d bring more hearts to Him. For the first three months, we had three members. A year later, we’re writing music for the church, the congregation sang our song at worship night, and – lo and behold – I’m a full-fledged (and rostered) guitarist on team.
As soon as I surrendered myself to His will – even if it meant never getting on a stage – He deemed my heart ready.
I still screw up chords, have nervous moments and will never stop learning.
But to paraphrase the Hillsong crew, if God wanted perfection, we’d die trying to get there.
Once He gives you a platform, the key to not taking it for granted is remembering that it’s not yours. Neither is your voice, or anything else in this world. The beauty of being human is that every single thing we experience is from God and of God.
You’re just dust. Getting your hands dirty in the pursuit of Him is literally in your spiritual DNA.
But you’re the only messy constellation He trusted enough to bring His message to life.
So, do your job and shine. Be the one that guides people home to Him.
Just never forget the source of the light.
Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory is a freelance multimedia journalist and editor whose work tackles the intersections of national security, human rights and social justice. A former Military Times editor, she’s written for USA Today, Task & Purpose, UPI.com and more. When she’s not trying to save the world with words, you can find her writing songs at the Kingstowne campus of Capital City Church, taking pictures from mosh pits, falling in love with graffiti, or trying to talk herself out of getting more tattoos. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @jenniferleigho.
The Rising is going to be a life changing weekend with hundreds of girls at DAR Constitution Hall, plus guest speakers Holly Wagner, Lisa Bevere and Jo Saxton. Who are you bringing? Don’t wait to REGISTER!
“Going to Conference has been an uplifting and treasured time with girlfriends. The speakers share such powerful testimonies that touch my heart and encourage me long after I leave. I look forward to coming each year and am excited to bring my girlfriends with me!” –Sue