Seen in reverse, there are moments that are so significant that they appear to set the entire course for the life that follows. Yet at the time those moments might be so commonplace as to seem inconsequential - nothing more dramatic and unusual than a kid dancing at the front of church. But when that child is a four-year-old named Miriam Webster, and that church happens to be experiencing a profound revival, it's hard to overstate the significance.
"I was really young but I can remember dancing and worshiping till early hours in the morning, "explains the Australian worship leader, singer and songwriter, formerly of Hillsong, Sydney. "There were lots meetings and I remember not wanting to stop. Even as a five year old I could sense the joy that came from the praise, worship and dancing.
"My parents remember such a great outpouring of God's Spirit at this time. They said they would wake up full of joy overflowing from their spirits with songs to God."
Perhaps it is not surprising that Miriam has grown into an artist whose songs are sung the world over. Steeped in worship since an early age, Miriam had a unique perspective on the Church today:
"What I remember most about the revival is people totally being released and set free to praise God. I have no doubt that God makes our feet to dance and that He wants to completely fill us with His joy and dance with us. Only then can we begin to imagine what it will be like when God pours out His Spirit on the world."
Through her music and singing - from classics that have appeared across numerous Hillsong albums, such as 'Dwelling Places' and 'Worthy is the Lamb' - Miriam had begun to draw together two strands that are invigorating to Church: the power of abandon through song and the power of the Holy Spirit to move through music.
Miriam's childhood encounters with worship were not limited to the dark-skied evenings at the revival meetings. "Most days after school I would spend hours on the piano listening to and learning songs. We often had worship playing in the house and we weren't allowed much tv - which I'm thankful for now."
"I didn't think I would be leading worship but I loved to bring a song to people when I had been touched by God through it."
And that is precisely how it happened. Miriam moved by music again and again - started to share those encounters with others through songs. Gradually that network of churches Miriam led worship in expanded to include Hillsong, Sydney. Inclusion on Hillsong albums followed, and a lasting relationship between the two started to florish.
Something about the way Miriam writes allows here to connect with a particularly wide range of believers.
"I put His words in my songs a lot because as we speak and believe His promises He is released to work on our behalf. I believe we need intimacy with Jesus and declaration of His word also".
The results have been clear, and Miriam's recent move to the USA - where she now lives, records, writes and tours - has reflected her increasing currency among the established worship scene. Her latest album - "Made Me Glad" - can only add to that and point to a future where far more Christians around the world will sing her songs and draw strength from her faith.
"The album was mostly shaped by songs that have been inspired from praise and worship or personal times with God where I received life and strength through His world. As worshipers I think writers get the urge to put these revelations to song because it's not just for us it's for the world."
As Miriam sees it, the world's been through it a bit of late:
"We have seen the breakdown of family, abuse of people all over the world and economic challenges as nations have drifted from God's word, which is our guideline to enjoy life and honour each other. I believe keeping close to Jesus and living by His word while society continues to force it's values on us is what will keep us firm, real and relevant.
"It makes me proud that wherever you go, the gospel has been preached somewhere. There are church's big and small being a light where God has called them and fighting the fight of faith."
Part of that resurgence must go to the increasing connection people are finding in worship, as Miriam explains:
"More and more freedom in worship that has created a platform for the future church to run after God, pick up the baton and take hope to their generation."
Batons, races and hope - the very stuff of faith that changes the culture that surrounds it. Thanks to Miriam Webster, that generation now has a fresh soundtrack.
exceeding joy!| Posted June 24, 2010
absolutely love the Hillsongs album Hope because of the song Exceeding Joy sang by this graceful and powerful singer!!!! I have found exceeding joy Jesus answered when i called ohhh thank you dear Jesus for saving and setting me free!