I used to hate worship music.
This may come as a surprise to people who know me as I am today. I lead worship. My life is worship. I couldn’t see going a day without connecting to my God through this lavish response of gratitude we call “worship.”
But before I found the Lord, before I actually formed a relationship with him instead of trying to connect only through religious ritual…
I thought worship music made me sick, when it was really bringing out my pre-existing sickness.
I would squirm in my seat as I rode in the car with my older sister who loved to play Christian music… like ALL. THE. TIME. As soon as it came on the radio, I was uncomfortable. There was this foreign, sappy aura that would fill the vehicle and I couldn’t wait to get out! I never thought about asking her to change the station. Then I would be forced to have a conversation about why I didn’t want to listen to it.
I didn’t really have a good reason other than the fact that it made me queasy.
I was just avoiding the conversation because I knew I had no footing for my “logic.” I didn’t know what was going on spiritually and why I felt that way. So, as I look back on the transformation that has happened in my life and my relationship with Jesus which caused this transformation… I want to share with you some things I have learned about worship and it’s role in this fundamental change I have experienced.
1) Worship is supposed to be uncomfortable (sometimes).
When I was not walking with the Lord, worship music made me uncomfortable. It was the Spirit within that music, calling out to the broken places in me that I so fervently tried to bury, that made me unsettled. In the presence of true worship the brokenness with in us is undeniable and we will never be settled so long as that brokenness exists… which it will (to some extent) until the death of our flesh.
When I surrendered to the Lord I developed a heart for worship. Still, it made me uncomfortable.
Now I walk willingly into those places that need healing. It is still unsettling. The difference is that I have partnered with the Holy Spirit who resides inside me and choose to trust The Lord to heal the things my flesh would rather ignore out of pride. The most powerful moments of worship have occurred when I pushed past this discomfort into full surrender to my God and His will for me. I speculate that the day I no longer must praise through this distress is the day that I will have stopped worshiping altogether.
Such a day would signal that I have forgotten how to bring my brokenness to the Lord while still praising Him.
2) Worship is warfare.
I didn’t know it at the time, but just sitting in my sister’s car put me close enough to this battlefield to create in me a discord. I didn’t know what it was. I just wanted “it” to go away because “it” made my stomach flip. The memory brings to mind events of September 11th. When the planes went down, when people lost their lives, there were many of us including myself who were not close enough to see the bloodshed or hear the impact. Nevertheless, the battle was severely disruptive to our peace of mind. We were on the front lines emotionally and psychologically, without ever having stepped physical foot into the battlefield. This is what happened spiritually when I encountered praise music.
There was a battle raging right in front of me and my soul did not know how to interpret it.
The battle is still raging. Today I engage. Not only am I on the front lines emotionally, but my worship is Spirit filled. The Spirit God has given me through his son Jesus, my Savior, comforts and defends me as I walk out His will. This eternal Spirit is winning a spiritual war, one battle at a time, as I lift my hands in surrender. The Holy Spirit fights for me as I am still in His presence, surrendered to His working amid my discomfort. To be filled with the Holy Spirit during a time of praise may be the most incredible thing we can experience on this earth. I am no longer an uncomfortable, passive bystander. I am a soldier following every order of my King as we advance.
The last and perhaps most important spiritual truth of the worship is this:
3) Worship is our purpose for being.
I recall a time as a new believer when I tried to convey this truth to someone who was seeking the Lord. Perhaps I simplified it too much… but it did not register for him. In hindsight, it even sounded to me as though I painted God as self-serving in creating us only to worship Him. This “loving” Father created human beings to serve only him? Of course that sounds selfish! My teaching was incomplete.
I failed, at that time, to comprehend and thus convey the eternal blessings and significance of serving God and glorifying Him only.
Fast-forward about six years.
Today, though I do not worship for the acquisition of blessing, I have never seen it so abundantly than when it has come to pass through the channels of surrendered worship.
If we are vessels through which the Lord works in this world, our worship of Him is the thing that clears the obstructions which may be hindering the manifestation of His will in the earth.
When we surrender to Christ in us and say “I am yours. Use me as a vessel for your will; a boat to rescue men drowning in sin and uncertainty”, we become an effective warship in our worship.
So I encourage you today to do what might be uncomfortable. Try worshiping despite, and in the presence of, that disheveled feeling. Don’t back down from serving your God in the face of spiritual war. I promise you, and I know because it is His promise, that He will never leave you or forsake you. Be bold in surrender.
Be a warship that plunges into battle with the confidence that God is on your side. He is. So am I. So is your community of faith and the entire body of Christ.
We are NOT alone and we WILL see victory. May God keep you and embolden you in this day and those to come.