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...the Evolution of THIS Worship Leader: Delay is Not Denial

I saw a couple posts on social media yesterday that got me thinking:

The first: "2015 may have started off looking like 2014, but don’t get discouraged! Things are going to get better!"~J.Renee Jones

Many of you know and some may not, that after 10+ years of full time ministry with Mt. Zion Church in Nashville, TN, I stepped down from my position of General Overseer of Music and Worship Arts. I served there in 2005 as the Overseer of Worship and then was elevated to the office of General Overseer in 2011. That experience alone should have been enough to make me quit. I had hard times. I often felt misunderstood. I often felt the world was against me. So in spring of 2014, after much prayer and consideration I decided to take a leap of faith and step out on the broken pieces of my music career.

BACKSTORY: I became a national recording artist in 2004 when I released my debut album "Hold On" on Light Records to rave reviews. I toured with CeCe Winans and recorded bgv's (background vocals) with some of the industry's greats. Issues with management and turnover at my label caused my record to fall through the proverbial cracks. It was nominated for a Soul Train Lady of Soul award later that year, but nothing else because the new hires at my label said they "didn't know [my] record was eligible." Needless to say that put a sour taste in my mouth for the business. A few years later I released "Renaissance: Live in Nashville" independently and a few years after that "The Word Remains" was released on Shanachie.

I traveled as much as I was allowed considering the church was my full time job; I know what God promised me and I was ready to put the work in to see it manifest. So I prayed and asked God and I resigned from my job.

The first few months were awesome. My booking manager had dates lined up and I was traveling. I didn't miss a beat and could literally feel the stress of my job falling away from me. I spent more time with my children and we had a blast. I was living my dream. As the year went on, the dates began to slow down. I was able to book a tour, but at the last minute it was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. I realized that this faith walk was going to take a little more faith from my end. So I encouraged myself in the Lord and I kept trusting Him.

A few months prior to the tour my good friend called me and asked if I would consider being on his team as the Overseer of worship once again at Mt. Zion. My first reaction was, "No!" I wrestled with the reasons why... They'll think I failed. They'll say to themselves, 'I knew she'd be back.' They'll revel in the thought that I couldn't handle the weightier position. And so on...

I sought the Lord and as I prayed I began to listen for His instruction and leading. He told me to go back because what He's about to do in my life, He can do from anywhere! You see, to the naked eye everything looks the same. The evenings that I spend away from my family, the time I put in on "off days." Even the people and the place I go for work. It all looks strangely like what I left. 2014. I left 2014 and all the ups and downs right at the Master's feet on New Year's Eve and I vowed not to pick it up again. Though there will be people who will only identify my journey and me with what they knew about me previously or what they think they know about me (only looking with the carnal eye), I know there's a difference. I know there's been a change. I'm not the same woman, mother, artist, worship leader I was when I left my lofty position last year and although I've come back with a "lesser" position; it only looks that way to the carnal eye. In the Spirit I've come back FREE!!! I've come back WHOLE! I've come back HEALED! I've come back with GREAT JOY in my heart! I've come back with a GREATER ANOINTING and with GREATER FAITH! And I know that what God promised He would do WILL COME TO PASS! No one can stop it! HALLELUJAH!!!

The other thing I saw [on social media yesterday] was encouragement from a well-known pastor. It read, "Joseph HAD TO go to prison to meet the person who would mention his name to Pharaoh, so don't curse your rejection or false accusation. Use your gift. Find the use in your abuse. There's a connection in your isolation and God will use that Connection to bring about your promotion." ~ Hart Ramsey

This resonated within my spirit because I know it is true. We all love to get those prophecies that tell of good things to come; a house, car, promotion, etc. But God will also send you a word of warning. I was prophesied to a few years back that I was getting ready to go through the greatest season of pain I had ever known. The Man of God told me that God would use my pain as a conduit by which others would encounter God in a greater way in worship. And thus my personal & professional life began to spiral out of control. The harder I fought the process, the more I "cursed my rejection and false accusation" the more it kept happening. The culmination was for me to just let go. I felt broken beyond repair. I though I'd never experience again the joy of the Lord. But now I know better. I know that I am here for God's good pleasure and as long as He has me (even in turmoil and storm) I am safe. I know that God is God. He doesn't need me in order to be God. Doesn't need my help one bit. And just like He's God and can do anything BUT fail, He knows and sees all. My failures don't take Him by surprise- neither are they a hindrance to Him or what He has planned. His word doesn't return void. His gifts come without repentance. If He needed me to be 100% on at all times in order for His will to be done then He wouldn't be much of a Sovereign God. What He requires of me is not for His benefit, but for mine; to build me up in my most holy faith. So, this time is for me to really learn that He is God and that He will do just what He said despite me.

Final thoughts: Just a little while ago I saw one more thing on social media that I thought relevant to this "blogisode." A quote from T.D. Jakes: "Don't mistake delays for destiny. You may be delayed but you have not been denied." Just because a thing looks like what it was before to the naked eye; just because your 2015 may have started off looking like 2014 doesn't mean God isn't doing a NEW THING! Ask the Lord to reveal His plan to you in the Spirit and give you a measure of faith greater than you had before so you can stand on His word. He will do it! Delay is not denial!

If you find yourself like me, broken, bruised and wounded; I encourage you to let the Potter put you back together again.

Then I went down to the potter's house, and behold, he was working at the wheel. And the vessel that he was making from clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he made it over, reworking it into another vessel as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the Lord came to me: O house of Israel [O Benita; O insert your name here], can I not do with you as this potter does? says the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so you are in My hand, O house of Israel [O Benita; O insert your name here].

~Jeremiah 18:3-6 AMP

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