It's been awhile since I'd felt an authentic worship feeling.
Ok, well, it's been awhile since I’d been to worship, period. It’s hard to get that feeling without actually GOING. But I just got lazy, it got easy to sleep in and relax and not rush on Sundays. At first I had a burning desire to go, like it wouldn’t leave me alone, but that eventually cooled off. My heart chilled to God’s call to be with Him in His House among my Christian Family.
My Mom and my spiritual mentors will be glad to hear that I have been back. In fact, in the last 10 days, I’ve been to worship 4 times. The first was at a church that is part of our “visit to join” plan. The second was at a Beth Moore Bible Study. The third was the last part of KSBJ’s Girls’ Night Out on Friday. And #4 was going with a friend to her church, so our kids could go to Sunday School together. I can tell you, all were an entirely different experience.
The first one – the "visit to join" church – I was pretty rusty. Oh, I knew all the words, but it took me a bit to get in the groove and flow of the church service. It wasn’t until towards the end when I felt a sense of freedom. Maybe that was when my heart finally warmed up from it’s ice bath of being absent from corporate worship. (They do say The Lord's Prayer there wrong, with the whole debt and debtors, instead trespasses but I won't hold that against them.)
The second at Beth Moore was unreal. It was like I imagine Heaven will be – with multitudes upon multitudes of saints all singing praises to Christ. Yet even in the middle of all those people, Jesus can still pick you out of the crowd. I pictured Him smiling and whispering, “Just sing it all to Me– it’s all about Me.”
The third was like that at the end, it just took a little getting over the rock concert effect. At one point, I could no longer sit and listen to the singer – I had to stand up and praise. I’m pretty sure I was the only one who did, in a large crowd, so can we say, AWKWARD! (Plus I’m sure I was blocking someone’s view.)
Fourth and final – was not so much about actually worshiping, more like watching other people do it (it was a HUGE church). But I did get some praising in at the end and heard a great message as well.
I do know that any authentic worship experience is not a habit. It is a choice to go there (wherever there is) and encounter God. You cannot remained unchanged when The Lord speaks into your heart. It is like being brought out of the winter into the powerful Spring sunshine. You thaw and the more you go to worship – the more you grow in relationship to The Lord. It is easy to forget how important corporate worship is in the life of a follower of Christ – you forget that you need to be plugged in.
To God and to each other.
There is a level of spiritual refreshment that you just cannot attain by yourself. Over and over again in the New Testament we are told to gather together for our own good – in Acts, Hebrews, 1 John, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Colossians, and Revelation to name a few. So much of the Psalms are corporate praise and worship hymns. And let’s not forget our roots – in the Old Testament the Hebrews built their lives around times of getting together (first in the desert, then in Jerusalem) to worship God.
Even though you are with other people – it is a singular experience to worship and encounter The Lord. He sees you, He wants to make sure you know Who you are to be worshiping and why you are there. It's not about the music or how you feel about the sermon or the people or the requests for money. Churches are businesses so they need that to run - but they are also the best kind of business because they are in God's business.
Going to church can be a habit, maybe even one you can write off. But when we do it in spirit and in truth – in the full knowledge of the Holy Spirit – we are reborn. We drink of the living water and the bread of life. (See, all those church terms do apply!)
It can be a time of challenge as well. It can be a reminder of the choice you made when you started to call yourself a Christian. God can speak (and will if you have your spiritual ears on) to motivate and encourage you in suffering, trial or just growth. God can speak to where He wants you to serve. Anything is possible for him who believes – in what God will do in worship.
The one take away I had from the fourth church was from the sermon. The pastor was speaking from Matthew 5:38, which says:
Simply say yes or no. Anything more than that comes from the evil one. (GWT)
This is Jesus telling us to tell the truth, not with big, flowery promises, but simply. And follow through. It struck me that this was the heart of worship – it is a yes or no to God. It is an affirmation of HIM, not ME (but I get affirmed in that process). He doesn’t want any more from than because a lot of times the more we do, the more it's not coming from the right place. Worship is so key, so essential to who we are as a Body of Christ.
And I’m glad I’m saying Yes to and encountering God again.