The definition of worship has changed many times for me over my brief 20 years here on Earth. In the first 13 years growing up at Lord’s Love, it was called “singspiration”; something that we would run through every Sunday for 15 minutes in our kid’s service; a blue slideshow with a yellow font coupled with music and actions.
When I transitioned to the English Congregation, it became a puzzle. I remembered my first time at an English service and feeling the bass notes going through my chest like a drill and leaving a strange buzz in my ears. And for awhile, that was what worship was to me; a rock concert.
But it slowly became apparent to me that there was more.
Beneath the surface, beneath the crash of the cymbals, the roar of the electric guitar and pounding of keys. Beneath the loudness. Beneath the noise. There was something that made it meaningful.
I could see it in the way people around me worshiped. The way they sang, the emotions that passed through their face as they declared something bigger than themselves; joy, excitement, peace, sorrow, anguish, pain. A curiosity began to grow inside me. What exactly did it mean to worship? Why do we worship? How do we worship?
And that is when I began to lead worship. And every time I stepped on the platform, my heart was moved from what I saw in front of me. What did I see?
A beautiful mess.
Here was a congregation of broken people, each carrying their own burdens, crying out to a God that saves, a God that loves them.
That is what I saw every time I looked out into the congregation during worship. And I realized that it was this same kind of posture I wished my heart would have every single day of my life. Then I began to understand what people meant when they said worship is a lifestyle.
But it is not supposed to and has never meant to be easy.
There were days where I didn’t want to sing. Days where I would rather yell in God’s face. Days where I just didn’t believe, and where all the words felt hollow.
Several months ago, my family went through a very tough time as one of my relatives suddenly passed away. I was to lead worship the following Sunday and I remembered looking out into the congregation the morning of and feeling my stomach drop. How in the world was I supposed to proclaim God’s goodness and His greatness in such a state? Let alone lead an entire congregation to do the same. I realized in that moment how feeling-based my worship had been. Feelings are not always bad; God created us with emotions and feelings. But it is not just about worshipping Him when I felt like it. We are to worship in the good. We are to worship in the bad. The truth is in Scripture He commands us to praise Him. About 250 times. Given how it is a command, it is to be obeyed regardless of whether we feel like it or not. But how are we supposed to praise Him when we do not even have the strength to look up?
Something I have learned from that experience is how we are not capable of worshipping on our own. We are so broken that we do not even have the capacity to worship. Yet God knows this and does not leave us to our own demise. In 1 Corinthians 12:3, we are told that it is the Holy Spirit that enables to proclaim Jesus as Lord. We are able to proclaim God’s sovereignty and joy in our lives not because we can but because we have the Holy Spirit. And so, in those moment of pain and suffering, we are able to still worship and proclaim who God is because of His Spirit that lives in us.
You might be a mess at the moment. You might be a mess in the future. But no matter what, you are a beautiful mess to God because He calls you amazing and beautiful. He says you are loved, chosen and free. Our worship may not change our situations but God sure changes us in the process. When we no longer have the strength to move our lips and sing, we lean into the One who give us strength to worship Him.