God Took My Voice Away?

In 2004, God took my voice away.

My introduction in to church ministry was through an older worship leader named Bobby who invited me in to a mentoring relationship after I graduated high school. Despite Bobby’s constant efforts to curb my natural tendency to glorify myself on stage, I began to find my identity in my ability and opportunities to lead worship for our student ministry of 400+ high schoolers. Three years later, after a few rounds at community college, playing in local bands, and quite a bit of worship leading, I decided to enroll at a 4-year school to study “CCM” (contemporary Christian music). there I joined an emo band, straightened my long hair, and wore tight girl jeans. Oh yes, size 11. But by the end of that year, God had begun to steer things in a new direction. Two things began to happen simultaneously. One, He birthed the beginning of the RYFO vision in my heart, and two, He began to take my singing voice from me.

By the end of that first year away at school, I was taking steps to transfer (to a Bible school), while suffering with a quickly deteriorating voice.  Arriving at Bible school that next year, I was physically unable to sing or sometimes even speak.  What had once been my identity and idol, was supernaturally ripped from my throat.  I saw several doctors in downtown Chicago, seeking help and healing, endured not-so-fun cameras being shoved down my nose, and medication that just didn’t help.  The doctors were unable to explain my issues.  So they dubbed it “unexplained severe vocal fatigue”.  In an environment (Bible school) where I probably would have sought recognition and value from being a regular worship leader for the student body, I was blocked and rescued from myself.

I have this distinct memory of standing, not-singing (unable to) Matt & Beth Redman’s “Blessed Be Your Name” with the student body during a mid-week chapel service.  As “we” sang the bridge section, I began to weep…

You give and take away.
You give and take away.
My heart will choose to say,
Lord blessed be your name.

It was in that moment that God and I got really honest.  My heart was broken.  I missed singing.  I was bitter that God had allowed me to loose my voice.  I felt lost, not knowing what talent I had to offer Him any longer…  And I was finally able to praise Him in spite of my circumstance.  As I read those words on the screen, I cried and cried because I finally meant them.

God knew that as long as I desired to be a rock star (for my glory), I would be unable to serve Him for His glory.  In His wisdom He knew that in order to minister to “rock stars”, I had to not be one.  This is my journey, not a blanket statement of right/wrong.  God knew what I needed, and I still praise Him for it.

I continue to hope and pray that He will restore my voice, in His timing, when He feels that I am ready to sing for His glory alone.  But until then, I am in awe of the opportunity He’s given me to serve other “voices”; some who live and sing for His glory, and others that have yet to.  God is good, and He is deeply committed to restoring relationship with us.  He’ll do what He needs to in order to draw us to Himself.  Lord blessed be your name.

serving the voices,

Nick Greenwood

5 Responses

  1. Luke says:

    Thanks for sharing, man. Praying with you for restoration.

  2. Cheryl Lynne March says:

    I’ve lost my voice after God gave me many opportunities to sing for him. Well I sang great, now that I can’t I’ve stopped criticizing myself and wish I could have it back. Finally got the fear to sing for God down enough that I was able to preform without my great voice so I pray he’ll allow me to get it back.

  3. nick says:

    Cheryl, thanks for sharing this. Loosing your voice can be such a discouraging experience, I know. Though I know that it has been an important part of the work God continues to do in my heart. I pray that His grace will encourage you in this season!!

    Nick

  4. Esther says:

    I think God is doing something with my voice but not to punish me. I welcome the loss of my voice because I trust him today. I am not a singer.

  5. Cody says:

    Nick,

    I can’t tell you what your story means to me. I am a long time musician, pastor, and off-and-on worship leader. Leading worship has always been my passion, though I have never had the opportunity to do it full-time until just recently. A couple months ago I accepted my dream job as a full-time Worship Pastor. However, what began a couple years ago as some minor voice troubles brought on by acid reflux has suddenly taken a turn for the worse. My voice has become virtually unusable, even though the doctors can’t seem to find anything physically wrong with my vocal chords. The diagnosis I have received is Muscle Tension Dysphonia, but no amount of therapy has helped. I am now facing the pressures I put on myself to “prove” myself to my new congregation, while my voice is failing me. I am incredibly discouraged, and constantly have to remind myself that my identity is in Christ, NOT in singing. This quote from Job 1:21 has become my mantra, “The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” Thank you for sharing your story. It is encouraging to know there are others out there who understand where I’m at.

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