I was at a women's retreat a over twenty years ago where this exact thing happened...nothing. My heart went out to the worship leaders as they tried to bring us into a "worship experience" that would be life changing and memorable. You could feel the tension in the air...and it was not holy tension...nor was it evil. It was just the fear of unmet expectations...all of us feeling the "what if He doesn't come?" All of a sudden one of the ladies spoke to the group that we needed to get on our faces...then He would come. So down we went...and still nothing. The evening was memorable, that is for sure. I don't think many of us who were there have forgotten it. I was grateful for a mature Christian woman who finally walked to the microphone and spoke some wisdom to us. I don't remember her exact words, but I do know that we walked out of that room knowing two truths: 1. God is still God when you don't get goosebumps during worship and 2. He was not angry or disappointed with us or our worship; He just had other plans for us and we weren't listening. We were desperately trying to recreate what we had experienced before. We had no idea that there are so many wonderful facets of worship and a never-ending list of venues He wants to use to bring us joy in our worship.
Since that time God has met me in my worship in a myriad of different ways and places. One time my sister, Joni, and I pulled over at river during a road trip we were taking. We were not expecting Him there, but Oh, the sweetness of it...there He was! And our worship continued as we drove down the road. I have worshiped in the car, tears streaming down my face barely holding onto the wheel because my hands were aching to be raised in worshipful awe. Praise the Lord, He must be my co-pilot:)! There have been times when I have put on my "Worship Music to Clean By" album on my ipod and sang and danced and worshiped while I dusted and mopped and washed dishes. I'm sure it looks pretty crazy, but it really doesn't matter, does it? One moonless night clear up in the Sierra Nevada's, I looked heavenward and saw the Milky Way. Did you know that the Milky Way actually LOOKS milky???? And the stunner for me was knowing that all those trillions of specks of "dust" were planets and stars and other galaxies...vastness that just for a moment hit my heart with complete and utter awe. What a Creator! In the midst of a starry dome like that, who wouldn't lift their hands and declare: "YOU ARE MAGNIFICENT!" It wasn't twenty minutes of worship; it was one sentence shouted but the splendor of that night remains with me still. On one Sunday while I was visiting my sister, we decided to take a Bible and hike to church. We weren't sure where church would be that Sunday, but we prayed that God would show us. We hiked for four hours and then heard a rushing coming from down the mountain. We followed the sound some 400 yards off trail and found our church:
|This was the view from our pew:)|
We flipped open the Bible we had packed and found ourselves in Psalm 104. Imagine how we felt when we read these words: "He makes the springs pour water into ravines; it flows between the mountains" and "The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches" as our only choir was the mockingbirds, bluejays and other birds calling back and forth and singing in the treetops. We ended our service with the last verses of this chapter..."I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to Him, as I rejoice in the Lord. But may sinners vanish from the earth and the wicked be no more. Praise the Lord, O my soul. Praise the Lord." Amen! We had definitely been to church that morning:). These are all lovely, blessed times of worship, but if we take off the masks and be transparent for a moment, we have to admit there many times in our lives when we are not "feeling it." I know I have.
I was blessed to have a wonderful and wise mentor in my twenties, my friend Dee Cosola. One day we were having a conversation about worship and the truth that there are those days when...let's be honest...we don't feel very worshipful at all. She reminded me of a verse in Hebrews: "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess His name." (Hebrews 13:15) What Dee told me that day changed worship for me. She agreed that sometimes we don't feel like worshiping God, but the Scriptures tell us to praise Him "continually." She said that she believed that when praise becomes a "sacrifice of praise" is during those times we don't feel like it...when it seems there is not a lot of praiseworthy life stuff happening...in fact, just the opposite might be going on. If then, in those moments, you can lift your hands in worship and praise, that is fruit of your lips, a sacrifice given solely and only to God and for no other reason than He is just that...your God, the great I AM.
Expanding our worship experiences can take us down so many different paths. I am excited to hear where God has taken you. What are you doing to open the doors to being "expanded"?
Love you, my friends, and I hope you will feel comfortable to share your thoughts and experiences with us!!