Giovanna Johnson

IMG_8099.jpeg

          Growing up, God was always an important part of my life. I went to church

with my family every Sunday. My summers were filled with church camps and

conferences. I had a loving church family who supported me and loved me so much.

 When I was in these God loving communities, I felt like the love of Jesus was

wrapped around me like a blanket. Going to Bible studies and singing worship songs

always made me feel like I was doing something right—like God was showing me where I belonged.

          Being in these Christian settings, it was easy to feel committed to God wholeheartedly. I remember leaving my church camp every summer feeling excited to start reading my Bible every day and teaching myself how to study His word.  But then, a month or so would go by, school would start back up, my life would get busy, and I would push off my Bible reading until I had more time. Sometimes, I would leave church feeling like God was really reaching out to me through a sermon I listened to or a Bible study I attended, and I would tell myself that I was going to get a grip on my prayer life. Maybe I would be consistent for a few weeks or days, but I would always find myself falling back into my old habits of cruising through my life on my own. It was so much easier to only lean into the Lord when the timing was convenient for me.

                                                                  When the time came for me to choose a college, I felt like I needed to go to                                                              a Christian school.  After lots of college tours and prayer, I decided to go to                                                                        Grove City College. I was excited to start fresh in a place where God led                                                                              me. Coming in as a freshman, it was not hard to see that the Grove City                                                                              community was full of people who loved the Lord and desired to grow closer to                                                                  Him, like I did. I made friends with people who I could have honest conversations                                                              with about how God was working in our lives—friends who would encourage me to                                                            go to worship services with them. I took classes where I learned more about the Bible and I realized how many things I never fully understood. I felt myself growing closer to God and leaning on Him more than I ever had before.

          Although I felt myself growing in Him throughout that year, I still knew there

was so much more growing to do. I still struggled with my consistency and priorities. 

I prayed to God that He would continue to give me the drive and motivation to keep

knowing Him more.

          I remember the night before sophomore year classes were about to start. I sat

in my room thinking about all ways that I could fail. What if I am not smart enough to

pass my classes? What if I chose the wrong major and it is too late to change? What if

I am not hearing where God wants me to go? All these thoughts and negative emotions came at me like a big crashing wave. I was in fear. I knew deep down that I could trust that God was going to take care of me and guide me, but it was so hard to focus on His faithfulness when there were so many things to worry about.

                                                            Sophomore year, I was involved with Orientation Board (OB), which helps                                                               freshmen feel welcomed and get  acclimated to the school by hosting events for                                                               them. One of the events that OB hosts is called All Campus Worship. I had auditioned                                                   to be a part of the worship team in the spring of freshman year, and I made it! Ever                                                           since I was little, I have loved to sing. I had led some worship services for my church and                                                   summer camps before, so I was excited to get involved in a worship opportunity on                                                           campus. Adam was one of the leaders of the worship service, and he really emphasized                                                     that he wanted the service to have the feeling of a never-ending flow of praise. I                                                               absolutely loved practicing with the whole team and putting together a set list that was                                                     so impactful and glorifying to the Lord. The night of the service was so awesome! It felt                                                   great to sing out along with so many other students on campus, praising our loving and merciful Savior. I didn’t want the service to end!

          Soon after All Campus Worship, Adam and another student started a group chat called Spontaneous Worship. The purpose of the group chat was to let others know if you were worshiping somewhere on campus and wanted others to join if they were available. The group chat started with around 15 people, but everyone was encouraged to keep adding friends who they thought would enjoy joining us. I tried to go to these spontaneous worship sessions whenever I was able. Every time I showed up to worship, I felt so close to the Lord. I became so much more comfortable belting out praises to Him the more I worshiped, that I

would often forget that there were other people around me. It felt like I was speaking

directly to God, not performing or leading people. I also began to incorporate more

prayer into my worship time to where prayer and singing were meshing into one

cohesive thing while I worshiped. I would flow from singing out the lyrics of the songs,

to praying in my mind while I hummed along, to singing my prayers out loud. It was

truly wonderful to feel like I could speak to God while glorifying Him and that He was

speaking to me during these powerful times of worship.

          As more and more spontaneous worship sessions took place, more and more people were added to the spontaneous worship group chat. By the end of the year, there were over 300 people added! It was so awesome to see how God took something that started so small and made it so much bigger. We were having worship in the chapel at 11:00 almost every single night. The more time I spent worshiping, the better I felt. I never regretted skipping out on an extra hour of studying in the library or sleeping in my cozy bed. I learned that whatever I would                                                                        get out of worshiping God during those blessed times was so much more                                                                  rewarding than my other options. I would leave the chapel every night knowing that                                                          I had glorified God, and that I had been recharged by the Holy Spirit.

                                                                  One night during spontaneous worship, Adam, one other student, and I were                                                            the only ones there. Instead of singing our classic worship songs, we decided to sing                                                          through scripture. We flipped our Bibles to Mathew 6:25-34, which is the section                                                            Do Not be Anxious. This passage is not only beautiful and poetic (which made it so                                                          easy and enjoyable to sing), but it is so applicable to all students. I often find myself                                                          worrying about what is coming up next in my life instead of trusting in what the                                                                  Lord has planned for me. I complicate things and think of all the things that could                                                               go wrong, where I should instead be trusting that God has everything under control. I cannot help but think back to the day before sophomore year began and remember how fearful I was about my future. It is so awesome to see how God worked in me that semester to show me how powerful He is and how He knows everything He is doing even when we are so confused in the present. While singing through that scripture, I felt so connected to the Lord.

          Later that semester, Adam told me that he started writing down some actual

lyrics to go along with the Matthew 6 scripture we sang that night. Nothing was super

set in stone on how melodies were supposed to go, but it was cool to play around with

everything and see it start coming to life. Fast forward to winter break. I was spending

lots of time in the Word, specifically in the gospels. I was also missing the chapel

worship sessions while I was home, so I decided to mess around on my ukulele and

worship in my own room. I started to think about the chorus “Why do I Worry?” and

then realized that Adam and I had never actually come up with a melody for the verses.

         That night, I played around with some stuff and sent it to Adam. Later, I wrote a

few more verses to make the song longer. When we got back to campus, we sat down

at a piano and worked on changing some chords and added harmonies. And just like

that, it was like...a legit song. It was super cool to see something that started as a spontaneous call of worship one night in the chapel to an actual song that was catchy and soaked in the Word!

           During winter break, Adam had shared that he had started writing a lot of other songs. He explained his writing process. He would read over scripture and tried to build the lyrics to the songs directly from the scripture.  It was super inspiring to hear how God was working through Adam to produce such encouraging songs that were rooted in the gospel truth. When we came back for spring semester, ideas about what Adam was going to do with all this music started to form. We all saw these songs as a great way to introduce people to the gospel story. Each song is so unique, teaching a different lesson, but they also fit together so well, telling the amazing story of Jesus Christ.

          As the semester continued, Adam continued to refine all the music that he wrote and ended up with an album of 20 songs. These pieces of music all work together to share the life that Jesus lived. The more I listen to the music, the more amazed I am at what God is doing. As we all practiced it together, it sounded nothing like I could’ve predicted. The stories of the gospel that are woven together in these songs are so impactful, and I feel so grateful to be a part of something so glorifying to God.

          A theme I see through my story so far is the concept of commitment and consistency. I found throughout this past year that the more time I committed to God, the more rewarded I felt. Taking the time to worship Him daily and appreciate His Word that He gifted us has caused me to grow tremendously as a person. I have never                                                                      regretted the time I commit to the Lord because I can see how He has used that                                                    time to build me up as one of His disciples. A continuous prayer that I have had for the                                                    past few years of my life has been that God would continue to fuel the fire in my heart                                                     to know Him more. I want to continue to read my Bible, educate myself about who God really is, spend more personal time with the Lord, sing praises of His name, and sacrifice more of my time to serve and glorify Him. It is easy to say that I want to grow closer to God, but it is entirely different to actually act on that desire. This past year, I have gotten a taste of what it is like to fully commit myself to God.

          I look back to the day before my first day of sophomore year. I was filled with

anxiety, allowing each fear I had to eat me up from the inside out. God has worked

in my life to show me His love and mercy. He taught me that when I hand over my

fears to Him, He will take care of them. I learned that when I have the courage to

trust God with my worries, He can calm me down. I am continuously learning how to

trust in the Lord with all my heart, soul, and mind, and I know that my patient God

will always be there to teach me how to rely on Him fully.

          I am so grateful for the gift of song and worship. It is an amazing tool that has the power to bond us with the one and only God. It can connect us with each other and allow us to worship God together with a unified voice. I am so excited to see how God uses this music to reach the lives of His children and inspire them to want to truly know Him. 

"It was so much easier to only lean into the Lord when the timing was convenient for me"

"I prayed to God that He would continue to give me the drive and motivation to keep knowing Him more."

"It felt great to sing out along with so many other students on campus, praising our loving and merciful Savior. I didn’t want the service to end!"

"It felt like I was speaking directly to God, not performing or leading people."

"I learned that whatever I would get out of worshiping God during those blessed times was so much more rewarding than my other options."

"It was super cool to see something that started as a spontaneous call of worship one night in the chapel to an actual song that was catchy and soaked in the Word!"

"...fuel the fire in my heart..."

"He taught me that when I hand over my fears to Him, He will take care of them."