Friday, November 5, 2010

Who's the Judge?

As a singer, I spend a lot of time being judged. That's especially true at this time of year when NATS auditions, Concerto/Aria auditions, and juries come in pretty close succession. But I mean, honestly, music itself is just a field that centers around constant assessment. Not judging per se, but assessment happens all the time in voice lessons, performance lab, rehearsal, and practice rooms. It's constant, and it can wear thin. Yes, it is for our good, and generally, it is with the best of intentions and meant for our growth. Still, there comes a point when I feel like enough is enough... well, actually, I feel like nothing is ever enough, and I get tired of it all. It's vulnerable. And it's really hard to not feel like it's you that's being judged, not your use of a developing skill. It's so easy to feel like these teachers and judges are making a call on your value as a person, deciding whether or not you are worthy of love and acceptance.

Then I realize... it's not just musicians that do this. This is humanity. This is life. We watch each other every day and scrutinize and assess and judge and analyze. Whether it's passing someone on the street or passing a mirror in the hallway, we constantly judge. And the truth is, that can be a good thing. Judgement and assessment are tools to grow, and we honor God by growing in the gifts He's given us. However, when judgement becomes not about "That color would bring out your eyes more," and "Standing up straight would really free up your voice," but rather "I have no style sense. She doesn't like me. I have no worth," and "I'm a terrible singer. I have no value," then it becomes dangerous. That is when it wears thin. Yeah, I know. You read those examples and think those conclusions are ridiculous, and you are right. That doesn't stop us from coming to them though, does it? It's happened to me more times than I'm willing to admit. And that is exactly Satan's plan: to deceive our hearts and bind us up, rendering us useless in the Kingdom. He takes what could be used to grow us and turns it into triggers for insecurity.

All that said, as I was preparing to go sing at NATS auditions this morning, I read these verses in Hebrews:

But in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom, He appointed heir of all things, and through whom also He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So He became as much superior to the angels as the name He has inherited is superior to theirs.

Verses that speak of Christ's radiance and glory just really draw me, and these are especially eloquent. God spoke to us through Christ "through whom He also made the universe." Catch that. He made the whole universe through Christ, and He also made a way to speak clearly to us and even redeemed us through Christ, and not only Christ, Christ's death and resurrection! That's big. Jesus is the exact expression of God's nature. Radiant. Glorious. All-sustaining in His powerful word. And He lives in me. He is my righteousness and my hope of glory. This same Christ through whom the universe was made lifts me up and makes me stand. He heals me and sets me free. He sits enthroned in all authority forever. All things change and wear out, except my Beloved. He reigns forever, seated beside the Majesty in heaven, and His love for me never fails. He holds all authority, power over things I've yet to even see. He is the one who breathes life and music and makes the heart beat. He is the final authority, the final judge of all things, and HE HAS DECLARED ME BEAUTIFUL AND WORTHY OF HIS LOVE. In reality, it truly is finished. The rest of life is an adventure, a chance for my refinement and to bring Him glory as I reflect Him and exhibit His gifts and work in my life.

That, my friends, is Security, the kind of Security that makes us more than willing to take risks, go anywhere, and do anything. It is this Security that helps us use judgement and assessment as tools for growth, rather than as the basis of our self-worth. When we realize that Christ is the only judge with real authority, and that He has already declared us full of value, we remove the power from Satan's hands. We render him inactive, instead of the other way around. We no longer find the need to judge others harshly as a way to make ourselves feel worthy. We no longer feel the burden to be perfect because the people watching us decide our value. We realize that day by day we're becoming who we are, transforming from glory to glory. That is how a long and treacherous journey becomes one that builds strength and sanctifies. And that is a huge relief.

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