When we were kids from Oklahoma, My husband, Nathan, and I made a record with another young guy named Charlie Hall, called Holy War. Somehow (this was before the Internet), someone at the Passion Conference got ahold of it, and in 1997 we were invited to take part in this thing called Passion. We led for a tiny group of college kids, but we felt at home. We didn’t know God was weaving this story into our lives. And it was echoed that weekend as Louie Giglio pulled us aside and told us that when he listened to our songs he was driving at the time, and he had to pull over to the side of the road because they were exactly what he had been praying for their ministry. Ever since then, we have been a part of that family of people.
And we have been blessed to be able to cover a lot of ground together and be a part of some amazing things, such as traveling around the world leading in South Africa, China, and Mexico. We watched God move in wonderful ways and it has been an amazing treasure to me. But I will also say that there is a greater treasure: doing all of that out of a place of rest.
Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom.” Often we are preoccupied with thinking, I don’t have all the things I need. I’m so worried about what is happening and what might happen in the future. That’s when we can remember to seek first the kingdom.
One thing I love about God is, before he told us to anything to do, he told us who we are. All through Scripture we find God saying, “I want you to do this … as dearly loved children.” My favorite description of kingdom comes from the study, Gospel Identity:
The kingdom of God is about the renewing of all things, and about the reconciliation of relationships, about the restoration of relationships, justice, and equality; about freedom from every lord except Jesus; about reconciliation, forgiveness, and the defeat of Satan. It is about compassion for the poor and powerless, about helping those who are marginalized and rejected by society, and about using our gifts and resources for the advancement of others. It is about new communities and the transformation of society and culture. For Paul, to preach the gospel is to preach the kingdom, is to preach the whole counsel of God.
I believe that a lot of what Jesus taught was not “either, or” but “both, and.” The same is true of leading from a place of rest. We are to be deeply involved in kingdom work, but we are to do it based out of a sense of rest in who we are to God. We are leading from acceptance, not for acceptance. There is a creative order to our lives, as people, and especially as leaders. We start with who we are: eternally beloved.
In my life, there was a time when I was trying to get to God every day with my obedience, with my kingdom work, with all the things I was doing for him. But when I began to understand my identity as beloved, I realized how unnecessary all my striving was. Each day we are able to wake up and say, “Today I know who I am as a daughter. Today, I am not an orphan. Even more than that, I am a beloved child of the Living God.”
While it is true that God wants our obedience, it is also true that obedience is not the reason I am able to come before the Lord. We come before the Lord because we are already loved. Does it seem too good to be true? Well it’s the gospel. It is good news.
There was one experience I had when my husband and I were Watermark; I realized that I was tired, and we had a new baby, so we decided it was time to quit. I told the Lord that I don’t know what’s next, and I want to obey you, but I feel like I just need to come home, and maybe learn how to cook things. And God led me back to Psalm 37:4-6.
Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
So there I was, cleaning a toilet, not sure if I would ever lead worship again, Passion was kind of on a break, and we didn’t know exactly what our future would be. But in that moment God brought me back to the realization that I am beloved; this is who I am. And I felt a fulfillment come over me.
So that became my bull’s-eye. I don’t have to worry about my future, about my role as a musician, about my work for his kingdom; all I have to do is approach him every day as his beloved daughter. And he will take care of all the other needs. He’s the one who will bring forth my righteousness and cause my judgment shine as the sun. He is the one who gifted me, so it is his job to make use of those gifts. We don’t have to bear the weight of our gifting; it is his to lift.
That is where rest begins. When we remember, to seek first his kingdom, to approach him everyday, boldly in knowledge of who we are, we can trust him to take care of the results.
Books by Christy Nockels
To find out more about Christy Nockels visit christynockels.com.
Read Losing My Religion by Chap Clark.
(Originally published in Worship Leader magazine Jan/Feb, 2015. Subscribe today, to read more great articles like this one.)
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Christy Nockels has long had a huge appreciation for music and for ministry and its role in the kingdom of God. As a worship leader for over 25 years, she’s seen first hand how music can usher people into the presence of God in a powerful way. Whether she’s singing a soft, lullaby or belting out a corporate anthem, Christy’s heart has always been to simply lead people to connect and communicate with the living God.