Today I have been granted the quiet beauty of a Snow Day, no morning headache, and only the residual seal-barking of a cold. So here I sit, watching nature’s best television series out my bay window, quieting my soul to God. And I feel it, again. It’s still there…
Do you ever feel a prodding of your heart, like a gentle knocking that won’t relent? Less like an unwelcome visitor that carries a search warrant (Perhaps if you don’t open the door, you can’t be served…), it feels more like an insistent call to join a quest, as if you have something in particular to offer the mission. No, that’s not quite it. It’s as though the One at the door recognizes both a hidden need in your heart that can be fulfilled in joining the journey, and the potential that will flourish and contribute once that need is fulfilled.
Have you ever felt that knocking?
Before I digress into all sorts of wonderful, but distracting, analogies related to my recent viewing of The Hobbit, let me tether my mind and tapping fingers to the crux of the matter: In recent years, I have felt the Spirit calling me to worship. By call, I mean this: We are (I am) commanded and invited to be in the Presence of God while we reside here on this planet. The longer I spend in His Presence, the greater grows a desire to make my company pleasing to Him. That’s the calling. The more I gaze at God’s glory, revealed in His character, the more starkly aware I become of my human inadequacies, and with it, the humanity of His church. Then comes a tidal wave of relief and appreciation of God’s gift of grace through Jesus. The longer I spend contemplating His character, the more I am aware that He deserves, and demands my best. Remember all those teaching rules of sacrifice: the FIRST fruits, the UNBLEMISHED lambs?
The question that is held in the Spirit’s hand that knocks, then, is …. Am I giving Him my best?
I am in Exodus once again, faced with the design of God for an element of worship that pervades all His plan. Time and again, it’s the anointing oil that I am drawn to: So very particular…so costly…so abundant. Holy. “It shall not be poured upon the bodies of ordinary men, and you shall make no other like it in composition; it is holy, and it shall by holy to you. Whoever compounds any like it or whoever puts any of it on an outsider shall be cut off from his people.” Exodus 30:22ff (RSV).
This anointing oil was set apart, different from ordinary. This has me thinking about what God teaches us as He moves through history:
‘I am holy. You are not. By the blood of perfect sacrifice—My Son –you are made acceptable to Me.’ Over and over again, He drove home the point that He is above all. He is unique and is worthy of something different than what we naturally give.
I am struck and convicted, shamed and inspired, by how very COMMON we seem to have made Him and our worship.
I wonder if it’s because we try to jam too many varied aspects of our relationship with God into the time that we set aside to try and do this thing called ‘worship’.
Fellowship…singing…prayerful petitions…announcements…a 3 point lesson…coffee and pastries…’church business’ conversations…social connection…financial contribution…the Lord’s Supper…
By trying to fit in so many things that both meet our needs and satisfy God, are we doing anything well? Let me rephrase that…are we offering anything holy? Do we give Him unhurried, set apart, consecrated time to whisper, to say, to cry out the acknowledgement of His holiness? Do we dwell there, or skim it by. Worse yet, do we include it in a cursory manner so that we can check off the “praise” section of the order of worship list and get to the teaching portion? God does invite us to cast all our cares on Him, to bring Him our needs, to share our sorrows. He does command us to be the unified Body of Christ that brings light into the world. He does expect us to exhort and teach each other His word. However, I don’t believe His word will support the practice of doing all that in the majority while reducing pure, uncluttered worship of Him to the minority.
Maybe it’s because we stay cloaked in culture that is constantly trying to mold God into a shape ‘relevant’ to humanity instead of molding humanity in relevance to God? Perhaps we are so busy with the holy job of building community that we neglect this truth: When it comes down to the core, it is the individual, it is you, it is me that is called to bow down before the Holy One and offer our bruised and battered heart to Him while clinging to the precious grace-covering of His Son. It is the responsibility of our shepherding leadership to help us do this. It is my ministry to help you ready your sacrifice, and yours to help me. It is my responsibility to offer my heart in a manner that pleases Him.
Today, my goal is to make my heart sing an UNcommon song to Him. A holy song. Call it a resolution, if you will. My aim will also be to refine my heart toward true worship when I meet with the saints. This may mean I close my eyes when I sing so I am not distracted by a lyric-laden screen or the thread on my pants. I will sing the part I know well and not practice my new-found love of tenor. This will allow me to concentrate on the words and not the melody which delivers the words. I will try not to chatter and laugh or rustle my belongings up to and through the first moments of song or prayer. (Please pardon me if I stop our conversation in mid-sentence.) I may even walk into the room and take my seat without talking to you. It’s not because I don’t see you or love you—it’s because I am preparing my heart and mind to be quiet before the Lord. I will beg our leadership to have seamless movement from song to song, to prayer, to meditation on holy words, to songs again. Please don’t clutter the silence with distracting commentary or conversation. Help me build an atmosphere of consecration.
This is a work in progress. I am a work in progress.
Yet, O Lord, thou art our Father;
we are the clay, and thou art our potter;
we are all the work of thy hand. Isaiah 64:8 RSV
Today I pray you are safe and strong, no matter where you are.
May your UNcommon song today and in worship forever be:
Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come! Rev. 4:8 RSV