It was only when I realized I had failed that I realized I had finally passed the test.

I had been a worship musician traveling between various towns and churches for over ten years. I had played every kind of venue there was – the famed, the dive, the tiny, the nostalgic, the coveted. I could credit to myself many accomplishments during those years. I could name off the cool people I had met, the opportunities I had had, the names I had opened for. My band had been on TV in literally every country in the world. But I was tired of it and I didn’t know why.

I figured it was just time for a break. I figured I was just over the thankless hours and hours of work that go into those brief cool moments. But I was wrong. And it wasn’t until I finally took that break, absolved the band, and walked away, that I figured out what the problem was. I was tired of me.

I had spent the better part of those years relentlessly pursuing the accolades, the affirmations, the fame, for lack of a better word. Oh no, I didn’t want to be famous, I would say. I just wanted to be known (what the difference is, I couldn’t tell you). I was over it all, finally.

So when I took a class at my church on what worship is all about, I was shocked to learn about Lucifer. Lucifer just happens to be the most glorious angel of the Bible – you know, the one who turned into Satan. I was shocked to learn that Lucifer was the chief worship leader. He was beautiful. He was wonderful. He was gloriously talented and gorgeous. And God gifted him with all of that for one reason – His glory, not Lucifer’s. And perhaps Lucifer started off understanding that. But somewhere along the way, he started receiving those accolades. He started believing the praise. He started needing it.

I know this because so did I. When people would say, “Gosh, the worship was so anointed this morning. I haven’t experienced worship like that in a long time,” I took it upon myself as if I were the one who made that happen. I believed that I was gifted with something just a cut above the rest. And I believed that gift made me better. Don’t get me wrong – I gave God the credit. I would always say that God had given me those abilities.

Sure, God, You gave it to me, but I made it cool!

I’m ashamed to say, that’s really what I thought. I may have given God the credit, but I was taking all the glory. It’s a fine line, a tightrope. But there is a difference. And it’s the difference between life or death.

When I received that glory for myself, I also took on pride. In heaps. Like drinking my own poison. Like fueling my own fire. And it wasn’t until I realized that I had been failing miserably that I had finally passed the pride test.

I am so thankful that God, instead of letting me keep going down that road, let me get sick of what was going on long enough to take a break and evaluate the situation. I am so thankful, so grateful that He knows me better than I know myself. I am so thankful that He didn’t give up on me, when Lord knows He should have.

That’s what grace is – loving me despite my unlovability. Loving you despite your unlovability. And that grace has set us free.

Today, I was blessed with the opportunity to step back into worship after more than a year on hiatus. It’s an opportunity I didn’t see coming in a million years, but one that only God could bring about. But this time, I know where I stand. I may be the conduit, but HE is the GLORY. HE is the maker of all things beautiful, all things glorious, all things of grace, mercy and love. And I stand with my arms high, my heart submitted saying, “Lord, to Your name be all the glory. Forever. Amen!”

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT