Today we are blessed to have a guest blogger! Julie Tracey is one of the singers for the a cappella singing group, Durant. I met Julie when working with the Praise and Harmony singers, and she graciously agreed to write a post for us on worship! Thanks, Julie!
True worship. What does it mean to you? Growing up, I never really heard much about worship or even knew what it meant to truly worship. I was never taught how to express emotion to my Heavenly Father. It was always kind of stifled. I remember being a kid and having to be serious and proper in church. I remember looking around at the congregation and everyone looked so somber. I didn’t think much of it at the time because that’s just what you were supposed to do.
As I grew and started branching out on my own, I started seeing things in a different light. In high school I was in chorus, and we sang Michael W. Smith’s song, “Friends.” I’d never heard it before, but I was immediately hooked as I have always been sentimental, and that song spoke to me about my friends. A friend of mine got me the Michael W. Smith tape for Christmas one year with that song on it. Yes, I said tape. I am THAT old. :) Boy, did I wear that tape out. After I went to college, more of my friends there were not only listening to Michael W. Smith, but also Steven Curtis Chapman. I really didn’t know anything about him, but I grew to like some of his music, too. Something in this music drew me closer to the Lord than I had ever experienced before. I can’t explain it, but I liked it.
As the years passed, other friends introduced me to other praise and worship music. I became more and more fascinated with worship the more I dug into it. I was moved to tears by some DVDs I’d purchased at a Christian bookstore — watching thousands of people with their hands held high, tears rolling down their faces, and fully engaged in true worship. I kept thinking to myself that this must be a little taste of how Heaven will be. I have slowly learned over the years that it’s ok to show emotion in our worship. I believe God loves it when we show emotion, I mean, afterall, HE created it. I read through scripture how David danced before the Lord, and sometimes we are afraid to even smile when worshiping our Lord. Why are some of us afraid of emotion? We don’t have any problem showing emotion at sporting events, and isn’t God worth more than any sporting event? I have learned through the years that the greatest joy in my life is giving myself to the Lord in total worship.
One place that is my FAVORITE place to worship is alone in a room at night with no lights on. I put my headphones on and I turn on my worship music and get lost in Heaven. I may listen to Hillsong, or I may listen to a Praise & Harmony album. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it brings me to the throne of God. I challenge you to sit in a darkened room with just your music — no distractions, no cell phones, no anything but you, the music, and the Lord. Now, some of you are thinking, “Yeah, right. That is just weird.” It may feel a little awkward or strange the first few times, but trust me, the more you do it, the more it will become a habit, and you’ll long to do it. It will bring you a spiritual high that no words can express. Make it a daily routine and habit to spend 30 minutes, even 15 minutes, with God every day.
You may have a different way of worshiping Him. It may not be through music — it may be through meditation and prayer, or a daily Bible reading. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but just do it. Just you, God, and nothing else. I can tell you right now your life and your days will be much brighter by doing so, and you’ll learn that the things that seemed so important just really don’t matter anymore. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim.” We sing the words of that song, but do we really believe it? Have the things of earth “grown strangely dim” for you? Or are you still holding on to the things of this world?
I often have people tell me, “You are always so happy.” It baffles people of the world because they are missing out on God’s goodness and love. If you constantly keep yourself immersed in the Lord, you will ALWAYS be happy. I don’t care what you go through, you will learn that this world is not the end, and it’s not the answer. God is your answer and HE is what will keep you smiling, positive, and happy all of your days. I cannot do this on my own, I am not happy because of me and all the things I have done. I am only happy because I find my joy in the Lord! There is a song that I am blessed to sing with Durant (I will tell you more about Durant later in this article), and one of the lyrics is, “I’ve got the joy of the Lord and it’s workin’ in me…” That, THAT is why I’m happy always because I have the joy of the Lord and it DOES work in me, and it shows in me! It can work in you, too, if you let it. When the joy of the Lord works in you, you will radiate, and people notice. Don’t think people aren’t watching you because they are. What you choose to let them see is your choice.
Something that has enhanced my longing to serve and worship was being asked to be a part of the Acappella Ministries Group, Durant. We are a sister group of Acappella, and it was started by Keith Lancaster’s daughter, Melissa, several years ago. I had gotten to know Melissa through church and singing on praise teams together about 10 years ago. In the summer of 2012, she approached me about singing full time with Durant. My passion all through most of my 20’s until now was to be involved with music ministry and travel to other countries to share God’s great news. Life is funny because as it was always a dream and passion of mine, I never really knew how this would happen or IF it would happen.
“Oh ye of little faith.”
That verse was speaking to me as I watched God open these doors through Durant, and He is using me in a capacity that I would have never imagined. I look back at my life, and I see how He orchestrated all of this at just the right time — a time when He knew I was ready. At a time when He knew HE was first in my life. Everything is always in His timing, not ours, and He blessed me at just the right time.
Durant is heading to Belize within the next few days to spread the good news through music, and in May/June we will be traveling to the UK and Scotland to share the good news with the people there. Lord willing, later in the year, we will also be traveling to Africa. Every day I thank my God for all that He is doing in my life. He has taken little ole’ me, who used to be as shy as the day is long, and He is using me. I am living proof that God can use anyone, you just have to want it and believe it. You have to put your full trust in Him, and you have to put Him first above anything else. You have to spend time with Him. It may mean turning off the TV a little earlier so you can spend time with Him. He HAS to be first in all of our lives if we want things to happen. God can use you, I promise.
Durant has been a dream come true for me — a ministry that I never thought would happen for me — but it has, and I am thrilled to be a part of a group of people who love the Lord more than anything in this world. We recently finished recording our latest album entitled, “Colorblind” and it is just about set for release. You can check it out HERE. We give all glory to God for this album, and we know that without Him, we would not be able to do any of this. It’s not about us, but always all about Him. Our prayer is that He uses us to help others see Him.
So as I close this out, I feel like I’ve finally come to understand what true worship means: To give my all for the one who gave His all for me. I just invite you to truly worship the Lord. Don’t be afraid to worship. Think of all He has done for us. He has given His son so that we may be saved. Shouldn’t we give back to Him and worship Him with our entire being? Worship Him today, thank Him today, make Him first in all things, and watch how He will work in your life. God bless!
Julie is a singer with Durant, pet sitter, nature lover, sports fanatic, Aunt who spoils 3 nieces, girl who loves life, and a world traveler!