and as a garden enables what is sown to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.
Each of us has a history with God. We all carry with us stories of the journey we've been on with the Lord, whether it's felt like he was near, or very far away. Whether we've wandered off*, lost our way**, or been completely and intentionally devoted for years, we all have a story to tell. And we all have an innate need to be heard.
When a group of people come together like we're about to in a few hours, something happens that we're not able to experience completely on our own or even explain. When God's children join together with one voice, and bring with them each their unique story and expression of God (regardless of where they 'feel' they're at with the Lord), an atmosphere is created and we begin to encounter the God of the universe in very real and powerful ways. Power comes from encounters with the Lord.
There's a worship leader I follow named Jonathan David Helser. And he tells this story of his first child. Every night before he was born, Jonathan would sing over the child (quietly) while his wife was sleeping. Sometimes he'd get too into it and wake them up. But even though the child's ears hadn't developed yet, his spirit could listen and every night for 9 months Jonathan sang over this child.
The child was born, and one night while Jonathan was sitting and holding his baby boy on his back in his lap he started singing the song. His boy's eyes instantly popped wide open and his expression said, "It's been YOU! You were the one that woke me and mommy up every night! It's your voice I know. It's your song."
Jonathan goes on to say that this will be our experience. One day we will pass through the womb of this world. Our eyes will pop open. We'll look into the face of our Father as he holds us and know, "You…it's been you singing over me this whole time." Worship is giving back the song, giving back the breath, that the Father first gave us.
This is the Time
We have a unique opportunity on this side of heaven that even the angels don't understand. Sometimes we experience things in this world - hurt, grief, confusion, loss, anger, frustration, disappointment and we don't know what to do with it. But in Heaven, face to face with Jesus, we won't have any of those things.
We have an opportunity right here, right now, this very night, to come together and not only celebrate the joys of our lives and what God has given us, not only celebrate the joy of who he is and what he's done for us, but to also hand off hurt, grief, confusion, loss, anger, frustration, disappointment, let it burn as a sacrifice of worship, sing all these painful emotions out, and be heard. I don't know what you're going through right now. But bring it with you. We have an opportunity to worship him tonight not based on how we feel, or our current circumstances, but based on his worth - because he is worthy. And I haven't found this in scripture, but I have to believe that kind of worship, in the midst of suffering means something special to our Dad.
Intimacy with God = Strength
Your relationship with the Father should be the most intimidating thing about you. Psalms 8 says, "From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength." Jesus later gave us an insight into what the psalmist was really talking about. In Matthew 21 Jesus quotes the Psalm 8 passage to the disciples, "have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have perfected praise’?” He ties praise of the Father to the building up of strength in the Lord. The word “praise” in Matt 21 means “story”. In worship we are actually unpacking the complete story of God's goodness in decrees.
Something happens when we sing the name of Jesus. There's something about singing that is fighting. There's something about declaring the story of God in the context of our own personal history that makes the enemy flee and angels come. Praise is the way to personal strength.
Tonight we're going to sing together these words:
You unravel me with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance from my enemies
'Til all my fears are gone
I'm no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God
From my mother's womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I've been born again
Into your family
Your blood flows through my veins
I'm no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God
Tonight, it's us and him. Tonight we come together with one voice and offer a sacrifice of worship to a Father who has been singing over us since the beginning. Tonight we encounter Jesus and Holy Spirit in fresh ways. Tonight we take a bold step that we haven't been brave enough to take before. Tonight we take back our song, for fear has had it far too long.
Thanks for reading.
See you at 7!***
* Ask me about my own story with God some time. And set aside a few hours.