On the way down to Nags Head Saturday we passed a little country church whose marquis read, “Singing canceled”. We had to laugh at how funny that sounded. But then as I thought about it, I realized how true that can be. I have made a god out of worship “my way”. The church today is at war over how worship should “be done”. Do we sing or play this song the way we’ve always done it? Is it too fast or too slow? Did we sing too many hymns today? Or not enough? Are we too liturgical or not liturgical enough? Does the worship leader say too much or say too little? Every single one of those questions makes worship about me or about what I like or think it should be… and when I make it about my personal preference, I have taken God out of the equation, and essentially, the singing has been canceled in my heart.
Sunday we went to a little Bible-believing church we have gone to every year since I was small where there is a fervency and love for the Lord that is contagious. As a musician, a perfectionist, and mostly, a sinner, it was so easy for me to be critical—the sound was too muddy and I couldn’t hear right, the songs were too loud, too fast, not well done, etc. Then we sang a song I’d never heard before… where the words struck my heart and God showed me for the umpteenth time that it’s about adoring Him. And the questions about worship changed in my heart—do I believe God is worthy of glory regardless of how I feel or how well the music might be done? Do I believe that the Holy Spirit led their worship leader when he chose the music for the week? In Heaven is God going to be worshipped my way?
I read on a website once how Jesus Christ gave up the best possible worship in Heaven to come to 1st century synagogues, putting aside His personal preferences for our benefit… for our salvation. How we should think like that! If it benefits another, shouldn’t I be willing to give up my personal preferences? And mostly, if it glorifies God and brings the gospel to bear on my heart more and more, shouldn’t I rejoice in Who He is and what He has done for me?
I wrote the chorus down to the song we sang on Sunday, and I have reflected on it a lot since then… “Filled with wonder, awestruck wonder at the mention of Your name… You are my everything and I will adore You.” If God truly is my everything, then I am willing to give up everything for Him… and that means giving up my notions of worship and how it should be done. It’s easy for me to be a music/worship snob… and when I am, then the singing is canceled in my heart and God is not adored.
Speaking of adoration, one man that comes to mind who adored His Lord is Rich Mullins. This week I have feasted on Rich’s music, often weeping as the rawness of the words that God gave to him have reached me in places I haven’t been reached before. In the night when I cannot sleep, or as I sit and wait for the results of my bone scan, it is often Rich’s music that God brings to mind—
“Hold me Jesus, ‘cause I’m shaking like a leaf.
You have been King of my glory, won’t You be my Prince of Peace?”
It leads me to pray simple prayers… asking Him to bring me His peace in the midst of my storm, and I cling to His promises with a ruthless trust knowing that God hears me even when the winds of life are howling around me. Like Thomas, the disciple, my doubts and questions lead me back to Him and I must proclaim, “My Lord and my God!” I have days where that is all I can pray, and I beg God to show Himself in my life
I understand Rich’s music to a depth I’ve never understood. He was real with His God. He was real with the people he reached with his music. He doubted, he cried, he followed, he adored, he longed for and knew God in a way that I desire to learn. I remember the night Brian and I were driving home from NOVA 10 years ago and heard on the radio about the death of Rich Mullins in a car accident. I remember we had just been listening to one of his songs, and I cried (something I am prone to do in case you didn’t figure that out). I remember saying to Brian, “His longing is fulfilled. He is home with his Lord.” Rich was a man who worshipped. And now Rich is worshipping in a way we will never wholly understand or experience until we worship with him. Until that day, I pray that I will have just a taste of what Rich is experiencing now and that the singing is never canceled in my heart!