When I play in church, I almost always sing along. I love hearing my voice blend in with the others in the congregation. It helps me bridge the gap between performing and praising so that I don’t lose my focus.
But every now and again, I just can’t do it. For whatever reason a lyric doesn’t resonate with me, and I just skip singing.
That happened to me recently.
We were singing the song Canons by Phil Wickham. For the most part, it’s a great song about the majesty of God. There is some beautiful imagery in it. Then we get to the chorus, which says:
You are holy, great and mighty
The moon and the stars declare who you are
I’m so unworthy but still you love me
Forever my heart will sing of how great you are.
And nestled right there in the middle of an otherwise lovely lyric is the line that I couldn’t sing.
My friend Grace wrote this a week ago, “It doesn’t matter if you have a good father, a great father, a loving father or an almighty God if you don’t believe you are worthy of what He has for you.”
Trying to hold the two thoughts – I am unworthy and I am loved – in my head at the same time is just crazy-making. I can’t do it. Maybe that’s my own shortcoming. Maybe I’m so caught up in earning love that I am missing the ability to receive love when I don’t feel like I deserve it.
But there’s another part to it, and I think my friend Grace hits it on the head. If I believe that I’m unworthy of love, I am going to hold that love at arm’s length. I am going to view it warily. Rather than being grateful for that love, I will look at it with distrust. The greatness of God is diminished if I’m looking on that greatness through lenses dirtied by my own failures.
And moreover, I don’t want to see myself as unworthy. I have spent plenty of time believing that in one form or another. Singing those words doesn’t humble me, it just shames me. When you have really questioned your own value, you don’t need to sing the words – you know it deep in the dark places of your soul. And it makes the second part of the line more difficult to understand, let alone believe.
I don’t have to look very far to find the places where I don’t measure up. I don’t have to strain to see the ways in which I am unworthy. And if I really believe in the goodness and the love of God, I don’t need to belittle myself to grasp that. If I am loved by the Almighty, then I have worth.
6 thoughts on “Why I Didn’t Sing Phil Wickham’s Cannons in Church”
You hit the nail on the head with this one, Alise (as your quoted friend did.) That feeling of not deserving love is so pervasive among people, it really does keep people from good relationships. People really dont get the prodigal son story – the son is loved in spite of the failures and needs to get past that.
The other aspect, as a worship leader, I really try to make sure we’re not singing pop fluff that isn’t scripturally sound. Imagery is great, but don’t sing stuff that doesn’t make sense. There is a lot of “me-centric” worship music out there these days, and I try to be careful not to dwell there.
I am with you 100 per cent on this!
But the line is scriptural. We did nothing to deserve his love and sacrifice. True love from God doesn’t have to be deserved or earned, that is the beauty of this song.
Rom 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Rom 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
Isa 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Jer_17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Can you point me to a verse, any verse that shows you are (in and of your own self) worthy of Christs sacrifice?
I totally agree with you. Our confidence is in what Christ has done for us…it is not on who we are and what we have done…but on what He has accomplished on our behalf. That’s why salvation is by GRACE (God’s Riches At Christ Expense) and not of our own effort or works, it is a gift that cannot be earned (Eph. 2:8&9).
That line of being so unworthy yet God still loves and accepts us for who we are beautifully represents God’s love. We can’t forget that Jesus our Lord and Savior suffered on the cross for us, for our unholiness, for our unworthiness, for our sins we daily commit. For we have all fallen short of the glory of God. We are not even close to the holiness of God. But the point is, God loves us that much. That should be comforting and just so moving to where you want nothing more but to love Him so much it’s not about you is all about God. For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. If you don’t want to admit you are unworthy, are you a little focused on yourself? Instead of focusing on a loving, worthy, and Holy God who wants to take care of you and lead you and just love you. People are moved by God in many different ways, I understand that. I just wanted you and everyone who reads this to remember, we were all there 2.018 years ago when Jesus, The only completely innocent and perfect being to walk the Earth hung up there on that cross with all of our sin and we suffered nothing, but given a way to the one true worthy God in Heaven for eternity.
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