Worship involves realizing and thanking God for what He has done. He launched this whole worship thing by creating and loving us. Our part is responding to what He started. There’s a lot to be thankful for.
- He made you uniquely, with His distinct thumbprint on you in a custom, one-of-a-kind way.
- He called you to join Him in what He’s doing to impact the world.
- He placed you in this world full of discover and surprises.
- He redeemed you – bought you – with a HUGE price to make it possible for you to address sin through Jesus, and anything getting in the way between you and Himself.
- He placed challenges in your life to help you become more like Jesus (not fun, but it works). He also filled you by placing His Holy Spirit inside you to guide, comfort, and empower you, so you can become the you that God created you to be, and so you can be His representative to those around you.
- He continually graces you with expressions of His love for you, those little acts of favor for which He has no other motive than simply to love you.
So we both have a part to play in the worship interaction. And just like any form of communication, there are points at which it can break down.
This reminds me of the communication model I used to teach to public high school speech class students.
Person A formulates an idea. (Bling – the light bulb goes on.) Person A desires to share the idea with Person B, so Person A encodes the idea in a message designed to communicate the idea in as clear a way as possible. Person A then sends the message in some form of package toward Person B. Assuming that Person B is paying attention, they realizes that Person A is the sender, and that the package arrives intact, Person B then opens the package and decodes the message. (Bling – the light bulb goes on.) This results in Person B’s response or feedback idea. (Bling, the light bulb goes on again.) Person B then encodes and packages the message and sends it back to Person A.
But to even call this model “communication” is pretty optimistic. Most of us have played those party games designed to exploit how easily things break down. Assuming Person A has an idea, assuming Person A desires to communicate it, assuming Person A has the capacity to send it, assuming Person A is aware of Person B, assuming Person A correctly encodes and packages the message, assuming Person A sends the message in a way that actually gets to Person B, assuming Person B notices the incoming message, assuming Person B has the capacity to decode it, assuming Person B bothers to decode it, assuming Person B interprets it correctly, assuming Person B has a response and a desire to share that response, assuming Person B encodes, packages and sends the new idea successfully… Assuming, assuming, assuming….
Thankfully, God is a part of this, and helps things along the way. My mind begins to spin when I think of how incredible the task would be for Eternal God, who knows all, is everywhere and everywhen, to actually create an idea so small that our finite minds have a hope of grasping it. But He can. And He’s aware of us, and has paid an incredible price for that interaction to occur.
No, if this process breaks down, we have to take the blame.
So many things easily distract us from even noticing that He’s trying to connect. Sin, certainly. But also focus. How easily I find myself falling into wearing the blinders of being so caught up in getting my part right, that I miss everything else. Sometimes I have to deliberately listen.
Then, when I get it that He’s communicating, I can miss understanding it or place my own slant on what He’s saying. I need to recognize His voice. I need to know His Word well enough that I can use it verify that what I think He’s saying now fits consistently with He’s said before. The more I walk and interact with Him, the better and more quickly I hear.
Once I get His message, I have to want to respond. It’s easy to just simply enjoy the warmth of receiving and forget that I can or need to respond. I also have a tendency to get so wrapped up in creating or packaging my response, that the opportunity to send it passes by. If I try to package the response in an expression that’s new or less comfortable for me, that’s also distracting.
Additionally, much of the time these interaction occur outside of the solitude of personal time with God. Worship often occurs in community. Other people are around. Sometimes they help me to focus well, but other times they create distractions. Even my role – what God has called me to do – can become a distraction.
It’s amazing that worship happens at all. So I’m thankful that He knows our limitations, and never tires of trying it again.
So during your worship times, expect God to show up in the conversation. Pause to listen. Sometimes His voice is loud, sometimes He’s quiet. (And if you arrive at the interaction already tuned to His frequency, you’ll be miles ahead.) Then, after a moment to reflect on His message, thank Him for His touch and then allow for time to respond. Anticipate something good. God is speaking with you!