Naivete is not a virtue but rather an infection of the young, the irresponsible, and the apathetic – cured only by experience, duty, and passion.
OK, I have to admit – I picked this title because it might catch the eye of someone engrossed in too much politics.
But, this is not about politics.
It is about worship.
It is about my journey of understanding worship.
Once upon a time I worshiped with order – standing when the leader said “please stand,” sitting when he said “be seated.”
I liked this a lot – it was easy.
Then I visited another church – it was chaos.
People sat, stood, walked around – ran around – screamed and shouted.
I did not like this – it was strange.
Then my bride and I were privileged to lead a youth choir. I watched them worship.
I did not like it – it judged me.
Now don’t get me wrong – they did not judge me – but their worship did. I saw in their faces – with closed, tear-streamed eyes being lifted towards heaven – relationship – pure, childlike, innocent love for God.
They communed directly with the Holy Spirit – as He communed directly with them – an intimate spiritual dialog.
As He spoke to them, reminding them of His love for them, some would raise a hand – ever so slightly. Others would sway – with eyes closed – in perfect, unscripted, oblivious unison with each other.
Some would fall to their knees.
I did not like it – it drove me to covet.
How could I have this intimacy too? How could I engage in such intimate worship too? What has this spiritual “pro” missed that they have not.
As if a heavenly hand came forward towards the stone wall of my mind’s eye, the words of the Holy Spirit wrote on my heart.
“Know me, and you shall know yourself.”
True worship can only happen when we realize just how great God is – and how much we are not. Then the enormity of His love can be felt – not understood – but felt. Then the heart can sing out in thanksgiving and praise – in intimate communion with God.
Move me, Holy Spirit, to respond in worship to You alone – not the example or judgment of others.
Let my love for You cause me…
to raise my hands…
or even to fall on my knees.
I’ve been alive long enough to know that for everything with which we involve ourselves, we can estimate what our experience will be by looking at the quality of our engagement.
In other words, we can expect a great experience if our level of engagement is strong.
I know this to be true by the judging my own pursuits.
If I am actively engaging in a club or interest group, I will get more out of it than if my attitude of engagement is one of “just one more thing to do.”
If I am actively engaging a book I am reading, I will get more out of it than if my attitude of engagement is one of “suffering through it.”
If I am actively engaging my Bible readings, I will get more out of it than if my attitude of engagement is one of “let me get this over with so I can so something else.”
You and I could extend this relationship between engagement and experience to MANY examples -including relationships.
One more note – the amount of effort is not necessarily the same thing as the quality of effort.
God said to love Him “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).
Whether we are “dipping our toes,” “wading waist deep,” or “jumping in” – we can expect an experience that corresponds.
“Defending the faith” is a futile exercise, as the battle is fought with those who are convinced to be your enemy. The better route is to “embody the faith” as it is the surest “weapon” against the unbeliever’s heart, and thus towards winning their mind.
I am thankful I learned this lesson a very long time ago, when I used to battle atheists on religious forums, resulting in much energy and time redeemed for other purposes.
Also, Romans 12:17-21.
To you who have fallen
for the cause of freedom
no words or gestures
are adequate enough
to express the gratitude and humility
that ought be felt by a people
whose security has been bought
by grit and suffering and blood
– but as tiny a voice it may be
in the shadow of your great
and final sacrifice,
I speak “thank you”
with the voice of my words
and I hope the same is said
of the voice of my works.
Laughter, in your future, I sense… much… laughter… (Yoda voice)
You may not believe the amount of mail that churches get. Of course some of it’s junk and deserves an immediate introduction to “file 13” (know what that is?). But some of it – OK a lot of it – can be truly useful. The problem is that I rarely have the time to read and react to all the good mail that comes in. So, I place it on a corner of my “desk” for later review. You may be guessing it already, but that pile builds up. It starts with a few relatively thin postcards, and ends up a mountain of postcards and envelopes, threatening to crash onto my poor dog laying below.
I really had good intentions. I intended to read every one. But I just let it stack up.
I promise, I am not a pack-rat, but I let these stacks pile up over the place – including my marriage. Seemingly innocuous things – little things – stack up and become problems.
Sometimes, I forget to say, “I love you,” as I leave for the store. Sometimes, I forget to say “thank you, that was amazing,” when she labors over a meal. Sometimes, I forget that the blog post I am writing can wait – she’s trying to talk to me. Sometimes I forget to open the car door for her. Sometimes I forget to carry that box from the children’s worship center for her. Sometimes I sit and watch her work. Sometimes I forget that I am just as capable of washing dishes as she is.
If any of these things happen as an isolated occurrence, there’s no big deal. But, when I stack all these things together, I look like a terrible husband – she might see me as a terrible husband. It’s not like I intentionally took advantage of her, or overlooked her, or took her for granted. But the stack of stuff threatens to topple over – and it’s intimidating. What can I do about it?
Unlike that stack of mail, this stack does not require tearing through each individual item and reacting to it. All I have to do is be intentional about making another stack. I must purposefully create a new stack of things done just for her.
I can send her flowers for no reason at all (trust me, as much as they gripe about you spending money on something fleeting, they still LOVE to get flowers). I can plan a birthday party at her office for her and her friends. I can prop her feet up on my lap on the couch and massage them for her. I can surprise her with dinner (home-cooked or not!). I can hold her hand as we walk from the car to the store. I’m sure I can think of more.
Here’s the thing. I can’t do anything at all about that stack of bad stuff that I’ve created in our marriage. But, as I build a stack of good stuff, I notice that she’ll throw away gobs of that bad stack – all on her own.
Let’s start building that “good” stack. (1 John 3:18)