A few months ago, I was given an opportunity to join a ministry team in my church, True Life Church. I was asked if I would consider joining the team that puts together the slides that project the song lyrics onto the screen during services. It was a job I had watched my mom do when I was a teenager and I liked the idea of directly helping the congregation. I’ve now been a part of the team for a little while and I’m starting to learn important lessons about phrasing and minimizing the distractions of a busy background or having a lot of slides to flip through for a fast song. But probably the most important thing I’m working on is the timing of switching to the next slide. You would think that you would want to keep the words of a verse up on the screen until every syllable had been sung but it is actually best to switch to the next slide just as the last word is being sung, or even a word or two before in a fast song. This allows people to start processing the next words and be able to sing continuously.
I’ve started to get the hang of that trick, but one thing I consciously have to make myself do is look at the screen that everyone is reading from rather than the screen of the computer in front of me. The screen at the front of the auditorium only displays one slide at a time, but the screen on my computer shows the whole set of slides for the song side by side. It is really easy for me to start looking at that screen and read one slide after another and forget that no one else can see those slides until I press the “next” button. Unfortunately, I have been late switching the slides due to this bad habit a few times. It isn’t so bad when the song is very familiar and most of the congregation sings right along, but when the song is new or just familiar enough that people can sing it if they are given the words, there is a noticeable drop in the number of voices singing along.
Sometimes in life, we can feel like we know the path we’re walking on. We can see the plan for our week, our month, our year mapped out in front of us. But what happens if the next step of the plan is suddenly erased? What if you flip to the next page in your calendar and nothing is there? What if the slides with the words of instruction get stuck on just one line? If that ever happens, which it does more often in life than we’d like it to, the slide it usually gets stuck on says, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10a) It is such a familiar phrase that it can seem trite or cliche, but there’s a solid reason behind it. God is the one sitting at the computer with all of the slides laid out in front of Him. He has the master list of instructions. Because we see the slides flashing in front of us at regular intervals, we can feel like we know the next step, the next phrase of life, but in reality, we only know one step at a time.
It is really hard to trust God when the screen goes blank or seems to be stuck, but He really does deserve our trust. This doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be actively following along and planning to take the next step. If the words stop popping up in front of me, I can still hum along with the tune, trusting that guidance will return. God has all the answers right at His fingertips. In fact, He doesn’t even need the words on a screen at all. He wrote them in the first place.
“For I know the plans I have for you” — this is the Lord’s declaration — “plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11