Worship 101 - Week Long Worship
It turns out we cannot fit a week’s worth of worship into an hour and a half Sunday service. No matter how many songs and scriptures and prayers we include, a week’s worth of worship really requires a week. For those of you who would like to grow in your ability to worship Monday through Saturday, I offer the following:
For me, Sunday morning worship is not the beginning of a conversation with God. Sunday mornings are a wonderful time of celebration and learning which happen in the middle of a conversation that is ongoing. Worship doesn’t start and end with the praise team but rather it is something I bring with me when I enter the doors of the church and worship travels with me as I head home. And here’s the key: I sing praise songs on Sunday morning with deep conviction and joy because I have worn and tested and clung to those truths all week long. For some of you this statement makes sense, and for others I am speaking a foreign language. Allow me to give you a few snapshots of my week so you can see how week-long worship plays out in a real life situation. (Please note that I will be highlighting some of my “best moments” and if I were to write an article about all of my sins and failures it would be too lengthy for this post) With that said, I offer these pieces of my life in hopes that this might be helpful to you as we all seek to grow in our ability to worship the Lord.
This is what a lifestyle of worship looks like for me right now:
*The other night I had a former voice student over for coffee. I worked with her for 6 years and we still get together once or twice a year to catch up. The thoughts and dreams she shared with me that evening surprised me. It was obvious that the Lord had been working in her heart. We sat in my backyard enjoying a beautiful summer night and celebrating the redemptive work that God did in her family and ways that He was stirring up our hearts and making us brave. In other words, we worshiped.
*Some of you know that several years ago we almost adopted a baby boy. He was born in Maryland and three days after he was born we were planning to pick him up. Attorneys were hired, baby clothes were washed and the day before we were planning to go get him the birth mom changed her mind. Definitely an emotional roller-coaster! Of course, we celebrate the fact that this baby will be raised by his mom and we pray God’s best for his life. When I think back on that experience I am reminded of the verse that came so quickly to my mind the night we found out. Job 1:21 - “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” To speak that verse in the midst of my disappointment was worship.
*Most afternoons I have an hour to myself while the baby naps and the boys have quiet time. This is fabulous! This hour is precious to me and I usually struggle to decide between luxuries such as reading, cleaning, napping or watching tv. (does uninterrupted cleaning count as a luxury?) Anyway, even though I always have a long list of things I would like to squeeze into that “me” time, I start by reading my Bible. I decided that if I’m going to say that God is the most important part of my life then I should give Him the most prized part of my day. This is putting my money where my mouth is and it is worship.
*Speaking of money, Ben and I tithe 10% of our income. Both of our parents did this and so this doesn’t feel like a big deal to us. Some obedience is hard but, for us, this one isn’t. While we could certainly find other ways to spend that money we view this act of worship as a good reminder that money doesn’t take care of us, God takes care of us. He’s never failed us yet. Each time we write a check we are telling God where our trust lies. This is worship.
*Two summer ago I was at the pool with our kids and some friends of ours. They were asking about our adoption journey and I was able to share how God was using this process to grow us up in our faith. We didn’t understand why God had us spend money, time and emotion on a failed adoption but we know it wasn’t wasted. I was standing in a baby pool talking about how God is sovereign and kind. That was worship.
*While playing in the backyard in the middle of the day, I pointed out the outline of the moon to Reagan. For the next thirty seconds I allowed myself to remember how big the universe is and how small I am in comparison. I was filled anew with amazement and gratitude that the God of the universe knows me and cares about my little life. Worship.
*Sometimes at night when I am lying in bed I will suddenly feel afraid. When this happens I almost always whisper the name “Jesus” out loud. Not loud enough to wake my husband, just loud enough to quiet my fears. There is power in the name of Jesus and I speak His name into the darkness. Worship.
*Every once in a while I catch an episode of “Extreme Home Make-Over”. Each time I see this show I am reminded that this is what God is like. He is extravagant and generous and lavish in His love. He doesn’t just meet my needs, He goes above and beyond. What a good God! Worship.
*There are times that I am tempted to keep score in my marriage. Who is working harder? Who is helping less? Who’s turn is it to get up in the night with the kids? This type of thinking sneaks in when we are most tired but occasionally I have the discipline to choose the “most excellent way”. God says love is the best choice and that love doesn’t keep score…or more accurately, “It keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Cor. 13) When I choose to serve my family without keeping score I am choosing God’s best. I am choosing worship.
*I have days that leave me overwhelmed or angry or feeling defeated. On such nights, once the kids are in bed, I go into my closet and lie on the floor. I sometimes make a pillow out of sweat pants and pretend that I am laying my head in the Lord’s lap. I call Him Abba and I speak with Him like I would speak with my dad. I tell Him that I’m tired and that I need wisdom. I tell him that I’m upset with so and so and that I’m hurting. And then I rest in knowing that I am not alone. That someone bigger and wiser than me is holding me and loving me. Worship.
*Recently I have had thoughts that surprise me. Thoughts like, “how can we live on less so we can give away more?” When I have a thought like that I know that God’s Spirit is working in my heart. That thought would not have come from Betsy, and when I have new thoughts I stop and celebrate that God is making me a new creation. Worship.
*On Sunday mornings I try to use my whole drive to church to give thanks to God. I have about a 15 minute drive and I never run out of things to be thankful for. “10,000 reasons for my heart to find.”
These are a few examples from my life and I am sure you could offer many more from yours. Worship doesn’t need to be complicated or formal. Any time we are ascribing worth to the Lord through our thoughts, actions, and words we are worshiping. May we worship all week long for He is worthy!
And when we come together for that hour and half on Sunday mornings and sing “Blessed Be Your Name” and “There is Power in the Name of Jesus” and “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, may we sing these as people who have lived them. May we lift up this gospel with the certainty and joy of a church who has tried and tested it all week long. May we come together to worship our Savior with the conviction and passion of a church who has lived and breathed Him and found that He is in fact, life.
For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. Romans 11:36