“If we are going to worship in Spirit, we must develop a spirit of worship.”
I am now at NTS camp in South Carolina but I want to reflect on my fast in New York. I’m so glad I waited to start writing this until today because this week God is doing awesome things during the worship sessions.
If someone asked me what my biggest passion is, I would say worship. I lead worship wherever I can and at my church and my favorite sound in the whole wide world is when instruments stop, I step away from the mic, and I hear God’s children crying out to God with voices. The voices I hear are not always the best voices, I admit. But I always want to step down from the stage and tell those people to sing louder. They are crying out to their Heavenly Father with praise with all they’ve got. If someone was trying out for American Idol and could not sing anything on pitch, I couldn’t listen. I’m just being honest.
When I hear people singing during worship with all they’ve got, losing their voices in the process, I see a passion that cannot be explained. It is a feeling where everyone in the room is one as we worship a present Creator. I love that.
Last week on the first night of worship, I started thinking about the privelage I have to sing. Singing is my favorite thing to do and I probably sing more than anything else besides breathe. Seriously. When am I not humming a tune?
I’m also the one to comments on everything with a song. For example, someone would say:
“Hey, you need to let it go so I can-”
I would interupt and sing:
“Let it go! Let it go! Can’t hold it back anymooooore!”
That was a bad example because don’t we all have that song forever stuck in our heads?
While the band was playing during a night session at camp, the hands were lifted high and I wanted to show God that I want to worship Him with more than just my voice. I wanted to fast singing. We don’t always fast bad things. We fast food and we need food! So I saw my love for singing along with the words and joining in the chorus and gave that all to God.
Giving up singing along with everyone made my feet drag everytime I entered in the worship space. I even resisted humming along to remain completely silent and reflective. The way I wanted to practice worshiping was with my body and heart. This fast made a way for me to check my heart and priorities, pray for others, and to hear from God. Amazingly, when you stop talking (or in this case singing), God will speak. How about that?
God reminded me repeatedly about mutes. How different, crazy, and difficult that would be for me. What if I lost my voice for some reason? What if a Christian went to church every Sunday and could not sing along to their favorite worship song? Or any song in general? I couldn’t imagine. Like I said, I sing A LOT.
But if I didn’t have my voice, how would I still give God my all? How would that look during a musical worship time? I want to continue leading worship throughout my life and I couldn’t imagine do anything else.
This week in South Carolina, I sat in the very back of the auditorium during the first night of worship. Something caught my eye that must catch everyone’s eye when they see this guy. There is a student, in high school, who doesn’t have arms. He has hands almost connected to his shoulders. I don’t know why that is or his story, but I saw him worship. It almost brought tears to my eyes. He was moving and raising his hands to the Heavens as much as he could. His body agreed with the music as he sang and worshiped without arms. I see everyone around him raising their hands in worship, surrendering and singing as loud as they can. The band talks a lot about raising their hands and what that means: surrender. This guy is worshiping with what he has. And as I saw him being taken on a journey with God in that moment, I remembered my experience with worshiping without a voice.
If I didn’t have my arms, how could I still give God my all? How would that look during a musical worship time?
I saw what it looked like. It was just another brother in Christ worshiping our Heavenly father but it was also so much more. The heart behind those words sung hit my ears harder than the screaming voices in the crowd. The heart is what matters during worship. Not the instruments, lights, perfect voices, how you lift your hands or look during worhsip, but the heart that pours from the inside out.
Your heart will paint a picture for the world to see. You are the canvas. Whatever is in your heart will come out. Whether the picture will be a masterpiece or something that is thrown in the trash is decided by what you allow to enter into your heart.
Learning this helped me discover where my heart truly was in worship. Was my heart in check? Was my heart, soul, and mind fully committed to Him during that time?
I also learned not to worship a worship song. Sometimes we get caught up in the singing along with our favorite songs that we’re doing just that. I realized we sometimes might worship a song a while we’re worshiping our Father. That time needs to be ALL for Him. We need to leave our obsessions outside the doors of our worship space. That includes our obsession for a certain worship song that we want to be played that night. We should have a heart for worship from the moment we walk in, for every song, until we walk out to live it out.
When the band started playing “Oceans” by Hillsong, a wonderful song, my whole body was compelling me to sing along. I felt the voice creep up in my throat to join my friends in singing. But it was because I loved the song. Not because I wanted to worship.
While it may sound wierd and stupid to you, this really changed my whole perspective on why I worship. Why do I lead worship? Why do we gather together to sing these words that we see on a screen? What’s the purpose?
Whether we know the song or not, a worship time should not be comfortable. Being with other Christ followers and being in a safe place to express yourself is comfortable and inviting… But worship isn’t a time to only sing songs we know and wait to engage when the band plays a song we are familiar with. Worship is a time to invite God in, a time to thank Him, a time to hear from Him. He does many things during worship. So stretch yourself in worship. Do new songs that speak so much truth and may bless someone with a word that has been layed on their heart. Don’t worry about the people around you and worship God with your body, mind, and soul.
Take what happened during worship time and let your voice continue praising Him with every word you say afterwards. Let worship be an everlasting song on your lips wherever you may be or whatever you may be doing. Not just in church or at camp or wherever it may be.
Worship with all that you have. God deserves it.