Worship is not for the faint at heart. Think about it: worship means engaging the Creator of the Universe. No one can truly come before God without being changed. And on a smaller scale, but just as intimidating to most of us, worship is often public. That can be frightening as well.
Imagine this scene. You’re in a crowded auditorium. The person speaking asks everyone to close their eyes. He is going to ask a question, pause for you to determine your response, and then at a signal, you are to hold up your hands indicating a number from 1 to 10 with your fingers, still keeping your eyes shut.
• How free would you like to be in your worship of God?
• How free do you feel you usually are in your worship of God in front of others?
• What is the numerical difference between the first number and the second?
Instead of telling you the kind of response given in the room after the third question, the speaker instructs you to keep that last number held up in front of you and that after one more moment to consider, everyone will be given a signal to open their eyes.
During that pause before the signal, would you change your number? Would you be tempted to peek?
Most people will have a difference between the first two answers. Many things impact our ability or willingness to express worship publicly. Sin issues, the struggle to open new areas of life to the Lord, personal growth issues, mental or emotional distractions, physical considerations, cultural expectations, known consequences… many reasons for fear.
The Bible is full of examples of people who risked all by jumping forward into God’s unknown. Sometimes the individuals followed through successfully, sometimes not. But the events that ensued usually exceeded anything they had ever considered. Life changed.
When the angel told Mary that she was going to give birth to Jesus, her entire life was unalterably redirected. Moses had failed at trying to protect the Israelites from their Egyptian masters, yet God told him to return after hiding for 40 years and do it correctly. Noah invested heavily in time, resources, and reputation to obey what seemed a crazy command. Abraham, after already having left his homeland and the protection of living among relatives, was asked to sacrifice his own son. The list continues, person after person, event after event throughout the Bible.
One of my favorites was when King Saul’s son Jonathan turned to his armor bearer to ask if he’d be willing to go on a suicide mission. The only chance of success – much less surviving – was if God decided to intervene with a miracle. The armor bearer had not heard from God, and Jonathan didn’t say that it was something God had told them to do. Still, the unnamed servant agreed. God did intervene and used the event to deliver the entire nation from the enemy army.
When God shows up, things change. He knows what is necessary in order for us to become transformed. But transformation frightens us. What if the Lord asks me to give up something that really matters to me? What if I have to face that the personal cost is more than I am willing to pay? What if obedience exposes me to ridicule or becoming cut off from significant people in my life who won’t understand or agree? What if it hurts?
The pastor who walked me and my family through the difficult time involving my leg faced this same hurdle. He had been there for us as my leg turned gangrenous and after trying everything else the doctors scheduled my amputation surgery. The leg was just too far gone. My life was at stake. And the pastor celebrated with us after the final pre-surgery examination when I was told 5 incredible words, “Go home, it’s a miracle.” But my pastor’s faith nearly collapsed when, several years later, his own daughter lost her leg to cancer. It’s easy now to look back and realize how doors opened for her to impact people all over, plus she skis, dives, dances, runs cross country, and is far more active than I am on two legs. But for them at the time, following the Lord was anything but easy.
I often encourage my worship band members to seek the Lord while preparing to lead worship by asking Him what He would like them to do that if He does not intervene, they will fall flat. Sometimes what follows affects everyone in the congregation, sometimes it leads to private, personal growth. But it’s amazing what happens when we step off the cliff and into the deep with no safety net other than the Lord.
Yet He assures us that He loves us beyond anything we can conceive. His track record supports His claim. We have the testimony of millions of changed lives, including the times He has already held us in the palm of His hand and transformed us. You’d think we would have learned by now, but that’s the nature of faith. It requires the unknown, the fear of being wrong, of being out of control.
He made you. He designed you to blossom into something far beyond anything you could dream up or bring to pass by yourself. He calls you to embrace the risk. Trust Him, step out and follow. In the end you’ll be amazed at the incredible plans of our God and King. Be daring in your worship as you give your whole self to the Lord.
By Tim Miller.