October 9, 2013
There are many times when worship is all I know to do. When peace and comfort can only be found on my knees and joy comes from raising my hands during a really loud praise band set.
Today was not one one of those days. Today I realized that worship is not always enough.
Don’t hear me wrong, I believe that worship should always be our heart’s position and it is through worshipping that we can connect with God and find peace. But sometimes I get worship confused with music.
It was a song lyric that I tweeted last night that led my friend, Whitney, to send me a note of encouragement. Encouragement which included more very thoughtful song lyrics:
Life breaks and falls apart
But we know these are
Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled, it may be unrestored
But when anything that’s shattered is laid before the Lord
Just watch and see, it will not be unredeemed
I looked the song up on YouTube and proceeded to listen to it on repeat until I fell asleep. Then I was a few minutes late to class this morning because I couldn’t turn my car off without finishing the Meredith Andrews song that Pandora was playing just for me.
After all You are constant
After all You are only good
After all You are sovereign
Not for a moment will You forsake me
Not for a moment will You forsake me
I found myself looking forward to BCM all day. Not for the message or the Dawg Packs or the friends (to be honest I would rather have skipped all of that tonight), but for the worship set. I had seen the set list and I knew that the band was planning to play all the right songs. All the songs that I longed to hear.
So I showed up and took a seat in the back, positioning myself in a place that I could move and worship freely away from the eyes of the crowd. I didn’t even focus on hitting the right harmonies as we sang through the lyrics I yearned to feel.
Never once did we ever walk alone. Never once did You leave us on our own.
You are faithful, God. You are faithful.
I went to small group frustrated because I didn’t feel the emotional release I had anticipated. I came home to an empty house and was feeling restless, so I decided to go for a late night run. I blasted my iPod the whole way,
You can have all this world, but give me Jesus.
I still wasn’t satisfied. I needed more. I blew the dust off of some old piano books and tried playing my heart into a state of peace.
Come and rest here
Come and lay your burdens down
You’ll find His peace and know you’re not alone anymore
He is near
You’ll find His healing, your heart isn’t shattered anymore
He is here
The steady arpeggios of the song didn’t lull my mind to sleep like I was hoping they would. Worship wasn’t enough today.
Does the Bible not say “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre.” Does that not seem like the wise and end-all solution to problems? How could I meditate on lyrics about redemption and feel incomplete? Or declare His sovereignty and question His direction? How can one feel lonely while singing about never once being alone? Or feel weary while playing a song about rest?
I exhausted my musical mediums and was left wanting. The same way I can eat myself sick of cookies and still crave more. Which is when I realized the problem: I had been using worship as some kind of spiritual ice cream. A scoop for every problem in my life. A gallon for every heart break. No wonder my soul feels sick.
Worship is not about me. Worship is not a crutch designed to make myself feel better. Worship is a life that glorifies God. It is about God’s goodness, not my depravity. As long as the focus is on me and what I want, I am not worshipping at all, but instead glorifying my own needs and corrupting a holy act with selfish intentions.
I sang about not being alone all day, but didn’t believe it until I started praying for my friends that had needs. I asked for Jesus while running, but didn’t receive him until I sat on my bed and opened my Bible. I declared that God is sovereign, but didn’t stop worrying until I thanked Him for His faithfulness in the past.
There is a reason God instructs us to declare His goodness and thank Him. We can’t fully appreciate His glory while we’re reflecting on our depravity. Our declarations of His faithfulness are empty if we say them through a mind full of worry. Our songs can’t be received by Him if we are striving to receive the blessing for ourselves. There is a reason we lift our hands up to the sky when we sing, to express that our songs are directed away from ourselves and towards God.
If you feel like worship is not enough, stop singing over yourself and let your Father sing over you. Listen with a thankful heart and remember who He is. Be satisfied in Him by focusing on Him. Then you will be fulfilled and refreshed, because by communicating with Him you will know that you’re really not alone.
The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. -Zephaniah 3:17