Friday, June 19, 2015


I've been a worship leader for a long, long time - I was eleven or twelve when I took my first steps along the path that has led me to where I am today. It remains one of my favourite things to do. I like the not-so-recently coined term "lead worshiper" - it really embodies what I hope my leading looks like. I love to worship, and as a lead worshiper, I simply invite others along for the ride! Leading others in worship is an act that never fails to fill my heart with joy.

Back in my people-pleasing days, I tried really hard to present a perfect face to the world - a face that was entirely false and fake and put-on; a feeble attempt to deny my pain and depression and doubts and fears and griefs. This habit couldn't help but colour my worship leading - it was happy, happy, happy; praise, praise, praise; God is good, good, good... And while this is certainly an integral part of worship, in refusing to bring my own reality before God, I was denying the people I was leading the opportunity to express their own questions and anxieties, as well.

But all that's changing now. In my journey to uncover and discover (the) real joy, honesty with myself - and therefore with God - has become a top priority. And honestly? I'm a mess. A big, broken, beautiful mess! The real challenge and battle has been learning to love that big, broken, beautiful mess... As I progress along this journey, I've been incorporating the lessons I'm learning into my worship leading. I think the most amazing, most significant, most freeing discovery I've made is that God really, truly, honestly, actually loves and accepts and invites me to come to Him just as I am. With all my baggage, all my qualms, all my wonderings, all my worries - just as I am.

And it's showing up in my song-writing. The more I look and listen, the more dissatisfied I'm becoming with what's currently "in" in worship music. It's still mostly happy, happy, joy, joy. As I mentioned before, there's definitely a place for that - a big place. God deserves all the worship and praise and adoration and glory we can give, and much, much more. And while worship is absolutely about God, we can't help but bring an element of humanity to the equation - it is a relationship, after all. So I'm finding that more and more of my songs (we're up to 20 now!) are "worship" songs that are heavy on coming before God just as we are, bringing to Him all of our burdens and declaring that He is Lord and He is sovereign and He is in control and He is more than enough. (And sometimes acknowledging that we hope all that's true, but we're not always entirely sure.)

Funny thing, though - try as I may (and have), I am unable to write a whole song without any hope in it at all. I've trekked through some pretty rough terrain over the past few weeks, and many of my songs reflect that. But through it all, I've experienced new heights and depths of God's faithfulness and peace and grace. He is good.

(So I guess this is a thing now - since I can't share the finished product yet, I hope this builds your interest without being too annoying... It's just such a delight to me, I have to share it with you!)

Just As I Am
(by Joy Feltmate)

I come to you, Father
Heart battered and sore
Head bowed low, heavy with shame
You spread Your arms wide
You lift my head high
Never again will I be the same

Just as I am, oh just as I am
You love me, accept me, forgive me, redeem me
Just as I am, oh just as I am
I come just as I am

You've taken my sins and You've cast them away
From sorrow to singing, my joy is complete
You make me worthy
You clothe me in grace
As Your child I come and sit here at Your feet

It's because of Your mercy I'm here at Your throne
No longer in chains, hallelujah I'm free!
You've invited me in
You've washed my heart clean
I am Yours, Lord - please take all of me

"Just as I am without one plea
But that Thy blood was shed for me
And that Thou bidd'st me come to Thee
Oh Lamb of God I come, I come"

Just as I am, oh just as I am
You love me, accept me, forgive me, redeem me
Just as I am, oh just as I am
I come just as I am

1 comment:

  1. Joy, your comment about not being able to write a song without any hope in it reminds me of the Psalms. Even in David's lowest moments and in the Psalms that are mostly full of despair and crying out to God, there is almost always hope contained there; praise for the way God has worked in the past and/or an expression of confidence that God will deliver him.