LIFE as a Worship Experience!
I couldn’t bring myself to sing a certain line in a worship song. The worship band settled on it, hovered over it – a melodic mantra. Hands were raised; eyes closed; voices intensified all around, and yet my mouth clamped shut.
“Nothing in this world can satisfy.”
Lately, I’ve noticed this particular phrase is popular in many worship songs. Israel Houghton likes it. Maranatha Music likes it… and we YWAMers seem to like it. So, I searched for it in the Bible. I couldn’t find it.
Now, I know the singer’s true intent of this lyric, and it’s good: Money, fame, ambition, etc. are not enough to satisfy. There is no replacement for or equivalent to Jesus. However, I found myself thinking how sad it is that nothing in this world can satisfy us, after all God created the entire world just to satisfy us, delight us, marvel us, and ultimately point us to Him.
So, there I was at worship… not even able to force a hum. What was wrong with me?
Maybe my angst isn’t so much about the words being sung, as it is with what is being implied in our singing, our preaching, our teaching.
Did you know God wants to see you smile? That had to be on His mind when He created the nursery of the Garden of Eden for his babies. It’s why he created dancing and swimming and family and pineapple… for your pleasure. For when you smile and laugh and play in the human experience God has created for you, He is glorified. Yet, we Evangelicals often distance ourselves from the very things God gives us to delight in by making them less important, less worthy, and less holy. We’re like a baby tossing away the silver-plated rattle our mother gave us because, on principle, it’s too expensive – when really our mother only wanted to share in our giggles.
Here’s a quick test: Are any of the following statements true for you?
Do the above activities fall into some sort of lesser “worldly” category? Laughing being the least spiritual, followed by the walk, with child-rearing being the holiest on the list.
Are you catching my meaning yet? “Nothing in this world can satisfy.” Well, no wonder we’re so discontent. Most of our lives are lived in the “worldly” category. When we overlook these ordinary gifts, we overlook hundreds of small, yet deeply satisfying ways to commune with our Creator.
God created us as sensory beings and placed us in a sense-saturating world. God, a spirit being, designed creatures who learned through touch, taste, sound, smell, and sight, and relationships! Perhaps the first prayer service was an evening stroll with the Father through Eden discovering the taste of mango and naming porcupines. Funny, how the ordinary becomes worship when done in the company of the Divine.
Here’s another test: How do you respond when you’re complimented?
Ever try to compliment a Christian? Do we say, “thank you”? Does your pastor grin and say, “Yeah, I rocked that sermon”? Does the Christian athlete nod his head and say, “I AM freakin’ fast”? Do Christians even respond with a simple “thank you”? Are you more likely to see a finger pointed at heaven and hear a mumbled, “To God be the glory”?
Imagine if I demanded such a thing from my teenage daughter after I took her shopping: “Nice dress,” says the cool boy from school she’s crushing on. Her eyes drop. Her finger points to the car park where I’m still lurking, and she mutters, “Thank my mother.”
Social suicide aside, what kind of mother would that make me? Isn’t it enough for me that she had the pleasure of feeling pretty? Won’t I love that someone else noticed the beauty I see in her every day? Do you imagine a heavenly Father thrilled by your laughter and pleasure (which are also forms of worship)?
Have you ever thought maybe God is more glorified when, like a six-year old boy, you run an entire race yelling at your Dad the whole time, “Look at me! Look at me!” He’s glorified when you bounce up and down in front of Him, grinning from ear to ear, holding a trophy bigger than your head, laughing, “I did it! I did it! I won!”
St. Irenaeus had it right when he said,
“The glory of God is man fully alive.”
Dietrich Bonheoffer also was on to something when he said,
“By the grace of God I shall become me.”
There’s this other guy I know of who said,
“I came that you might have life, and have it abundantly.”
Have you for gotten the living part of being a “LIVING sacrifice?” (That’s certainly the word that would have stood out to the sacrifice-crazed, idol worshiping Romans who saw human sacrifice as the ultimate homage to their former gods. I can imagine them exclaiming, “You mean, we worship a God that cherishes LIFE more than death?”) Has your walk with God become more about what you’re dying to rather than Who you’re living it with? Do you keep trying to die to parts of yourself when God wants to you celebrate? God designed this world and our human experience to bring us joy and contentment. Not all of it’s broken. In fact, much of this world is lovely.
The taste of dark chocolate.
The feel of sun on your skin.
A hot bath.
A good haircut.
The latest, dumb YouTube clip.
The truth is: Lots in this world can satisfy. It was designed that way. Every moment is holy because God created that moment for you and Him to share.
Savor the moment, and put a smile on your Daddy’s face. This is how you truly glorify your Father. Life is a worship experience.
Try Out the Practice of Satisfaction: This is the spiritual discipline of loving what you have and how you are made with the goal to fully understand glorifying God is not accomplished by diminishing yourself; it’s accomplished by being fully who He created you to be and relishing in the human experience He created for you to play in.
How to Do It: Pick one day a week on which you correct your thinking. Rather than dwell on the negative about yourself, your spouse, your team, your ministry, etc., look for those qualities that produce satisfaction. What are you good at? What brings you a sense of accomplishment or gratefulness? What/who causes you to smile? If you’re complimented, really receive it into yourself. Go for a walk with God and look at the ocean, the clouds, the flowers with fresh eyes. Get your favorite bar of chocolate and savor it, staying aware of God’s presence. Respond in small prayers of thanks all day.
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Kevin and Tonya Stanfield
Serving in South Africa since 2007