Stepping Out of your Comfort Zone . . . AKA Trusting The Lord!

Penny Ferguson Picture

   About a dozen or so years ago, when I felt the Lord calling me to write gospel songs, I stepped out of my comfort zone of journalism and literary writing into a world I knew little about. I faced three major obstacles. Not living in the south, I was not near the heart of the area from which Southern Gospel music comes. I had no musical background and I had no one to mentor me. I did all of the easy, obvious things I could do to help lessen these obstacles like ordering a Singing News Southern Gospel Sourcebook, subscribing to The Singing News, buying downloads of The Gospel Greats, and later, when they became available, streaming Southern Gospel concerts live on the Internet. My husband also signed up for Southern Gospel message boards.
   In the area in which I live, Southern Gospel music is not easily available. Most of the artists in the area sing country gospel, bluegrass gospel or contemporary.

   My preference is for Southern Gospel because I love this genre. I love the evangelical nature of the music and how it strives for Biblical accuracy.  It is a rare and thrilling occasion when a Southern Gospel group tours through our area.
   Most people, even those who know me quite well, don’t realize that I am a very shy person. I am not comfortable meeting new people and encountering new situations. I am most at ease by myself with a pad of paper or a blank computer screen for writing. But facing these three major challenges and having stepped out of my comfort zone in writing, I knew if I were to be obedient to the Lord’s call, I would have to rely on Him to give me the courage to stretch in many areas so I could learn all I could about writing Southern Gospel songs. With prayers for guidance and courage, I stepped out in faith every time I saw an opportunity to learn about or get a little closer to gospel music.
   The first area the Lord had me step into was singing. I had only sung with a choir a handful of times—not even as a regular. Singing was definitely not within my comfort zone. My husband, Paul, on the other hand, had sung gospel music since he was a teenager. He was just ending his association with a Southern Gospel trio, The Lamb’s Men, one of the very few in our area, when I was beginning gospel song writing. As well as working together on the music for the songs I wrote, we began singing together. I had no experience and I wasn’t a phenom. People wanted to hear my husband singing with The Lamb’s Men or solo and some said some very unkind, discouraging things to me like, “Those who can sing should, and those who can’t shouldn’t!” I was crushed and wounded but, because I was doing this to improve my song writing for the Lord, such things made me even more determined. Each time before I sang, I asked the Lord to help me do it through His strength and for His glory. I will never be a Kim Hopper, a Taranda Green or a Karen Peck, but I am happy to say that I have at least improved and I am more comfortable singing for the Lord and I do feel that it makes me a better gospel song writer.

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