Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Genuinely Abandon Yourself...

Sunday worship is so important to me. Not because I get to see all my friends, although... that's a plus. Simply because it refills to my spiritual gas tank (along with Wednesday evening Bible studies, and my daily devotions). Even when I'm feeling low, a good time of worship on Sunday morning, or any day for that matter, can truly wash my heart with joy, no matter how sad I am!

Let me share one experience I had this past weekend with you... I'm certain you will be as touched as I was. We sang a song in worship yesterday called "Yes, Lord" (You Tube video below). I love this song, and it even refers to one of my favorite scriptures that you can see on the banner of my blog: "...Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5b. Anyway, I was watching our friend and his son ("G") worshiping together to this song, and it touched my heart to the very core

His son is two, and he has downs syndrome. He is the most loving, adorable, sweet child (although he has quite a bit of "all-boy" in him, too). My friend had placed his son on his shoulders during worship. "G" speaks mostly with sign language, and when we sang "Yes, Lord, Yes, Lord, Yes, Yes, Lord..." he would sign it out by moving his adorable little chubby closed fist up and down, and raising his arms in worship. His smile was genuine, his heart was sincere, his eyes were glowing. He gets a genuine look of joy when his parents prompt him to "praise Jesus" -- he grins, and lifts his hands in the air (Praising Jesus is something both his parents have firmly rooted in his young and tender heart, as well as his siblings' hearts). My friend was doing the same hand motions along with his son, and both son and dad had beautiful smiles on their faces. Soon enough, several of us around them were doing the same hand motions to the song, and I was trying to teach them to Hunter.

What touched me the most was to truly see the innocence in the way they were worshiping God together. It brought to mind how God really ministers to me when I can let myself worship with total abandon and complete joy... as an innocent child does. It frees the soul, it renews the heart, and it invigorates the mind when you clear your thoughts and focus on the Lord through worship!

Have you ever noticed how sometimes we can be ever so stately and stoic, and ... well ... stuffy ... in worship? Many of us feel there is a "time and place" for certain behavior. In the sanctuary, you behave with dignity and respect. Why ... everyone knows that you're supposed to worship the Lord with some modicum of decorum. You certainly don't raise your hands, bounce around, and [GASP] clap in worship. AHEM!

[insert screeching record player sound here]

Is that really true? No... I don't think it is. It's funny, but many Christians are afraid to raise their hands and worship the Lord freely because we're afraid of what our friends might think of us... or because we feel silly, or self conscious. But, let me share one freeing thought with you: the more you trust and seek the Lord, the more he begins to free you from the worries of what others will think of you when you show your true and intimate feelings of worship to Him?

This thought ... this freeing, liberating thought ... goes a lot further than just encouraging you to raise your hands in congregational worship... Why, my husband and I have even been known to raise our hands in worship ... in the car, people! THE CAR! I'm sure the people driving around us on the highway think we're seriously cracked.

But think about it... there is such freedom in letting go of your inhibitions ... of letting go of yourself ... and of having a heart before God that is patterned after an innocent child. Even King David abandoned his inhibitions and danced before the Lord with genuine joy and enthusiasm (2 Samuel 6:14). He actively worshiped the Lord without any cares -- in fact, David chose to set his pride aside for God - and having done all that, God called him a man after His own heart. How awesome would it be for God to call you, or me a man or woman after His own heart? But despite all of our own inadequacies or inabilities to loose our inhibitions in the act of worship like David did, the fact still remains... not only are we created to worship, but we are also commanded to worship. (Psalm 150)

God doesn’t command us to praise Him because He needs us to "pump HIM up," but rather, because we need what praise can do for us!. When we praise and worship God ... it does something for us! Now, I'm not saying that you must dance in worship in order for it to be "true" worship, because there are all kinds of styles of worship that are true worship. I'm just trying to point out that many times, we become too consumed with ourselves to allow the free expression of our worship to our Lord -- in other words, if we're not "feeling it," we're not "doing it." It's easy to praise and worship the Lord when we've been blessed, or when we're happy... it's much harder to do it when we're not... but whether you're happy or sad, the reward is the same... God comes down and meets us where we are, and fellowships with us. He lifts our spirits. He renews us. He cares for us. He feeds us. He refreshes us. He holds us. He invigorates us.

Trust me when I say... Little "G" hasn't learned yet how seriously adults judge each other. And better yet, "G" isn't concerned with what society thinks is appropriate behavior for worship... I guarantee you that!

It causes me to think about a game I play with my son. I place my finger on my mouth, and pat it on my mouth while I say "hmmmmm..." pretending like I'm thinking, all the while, getting closer, and closer, and closer yet to him. Finally, I grab him and tickle him until he is squealing in delight, jumping around, wriggling, and laughing. I hug him, kiss him, squeeze him in all his ticklish spots, and roll around with him. Trust me when I say ... he is not thinking about what mommy is going to think is appropriate behavior at that very moment in time! He just knows that I'm loving on him, and he's reacting genuinely to that.

Now, picture God just loving on you, ministering to you through music... wrapping his arms around you, throwing you up in the air, and showing you how much he loves you. Would you respond to Him in a reserved fashion? I hope not. I hope you would throw your arms in the air and run to him like a child free of any pretenses... jumping in his arms and allowing him to twirl you around and around. After all ... Jesus challenged us to change and become like little children and NOT be frightened of being passionate!

Trust me when I say ... when you throw yourself into worship with a child-like attitude... not caring what those around you think of you're actions or how you look ... Jesus WILL MEET YOU, and he WILL FREE you, and he WILL BLESS you.

I invite you to throw caution to the wind this Sunday... whether you worship in a traditional church with a choir and quiet hymns played on a piano or organ (or both), or in a church that sings a cappella (no music, just voices), or in a church with a full band, or a full symphony, or maybe just a guitar or a violin ... free yourself to worship recklessly -- raise your arms, shout out amen, whatever your heart desires... conquer that quiet voice in your mind telling you how silly you'll look or sound, and loose yourself in the presence of the Lord. Pull out your childish personality and worship passionately! Just don't do it in only a linen ephod --- please worship fully clothed!

"And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3

Thanks to Sue at Praise & Coffee who reminded me of this in her Monday post, because ironically, she posted about the very same song!


Laura said...

Oh how I like to dance in the pews!! I'm a terrible singer but a couple of years ago I said to heck with it and now I just belt out the songs like I'm the best singer in the world. I don't have a care in the world because God loves it and THAT is all that matters to me.

Love that song!

Lori - Queen of Dirty Laundry said...

I don't think I've commented here before, but I just had to say THANKS for writing about this today.

The praise and worship at our church is very spectator-based, rather than participatory. I've been hesitant to worship the way I want to - the way I'm used to - because I don't want to stand out.

You've just reminded me - it's okay, even GOOD to stand out sometimes.

Laura said...

Wow, what a great post! I really needed to hear that. I miss doing that at my church. I remember when there was one lady who just had one hand raised while she was singing and I thought how nice. The elders though, didn't think so. She was more of an example of what not to do during the service because it brought attention to herself rather than Jesus...sad isn't it? Here's to some reckless (but fully clothed) abandon during the worship service!! Thanks soo much!

Faithfulmommy said...

I am a handraisingfoottappingdancaroundalloverthe place girl!!! Even in the car!! Like how could you listen to "shackles" by Mary, Mary and not do the jig???

Donnetta said...

Amen and Amen. This song is a favorite by the youth in our district at youth camp and other district events.

During the chorus not only do they raise their arms but they *ahem* jump up and down through the entire chorus.

In fact, this last weekend at the district youth ski retreat the praise and worship team couldn't make it due to weather. A few of us adults stepped in to wing it. I was asked to be one of them.

When we sang this song (3 times in a total of 4 services) I was even *ahem* jumping on the chorus of this song up front as one of the leaders.

And we are FAR from being a group that does much or any of that on a regular basis.

Praise On Sista!!....

Girl Raised in the South said...

Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed this post - our church is going through a transition stage - more and more hand clappers and raisers, standing next to those with their arms at their sides, and trying to worship together - it's a process for sure! I expect when we're all worshiping in heaven there won't be a single soul who isn't raising hands!

Anonymous said...

I'm wiping tears from my eyes as I type this. I'm continually amazed at the way the Lord continues to use SuperG as a vehicle for Him to be praised and glorified. As far as we were concerned it was just the two of us and the Lord there on Sunday, but it brings me such joy to know that our praising has brought even more praise to Him. There's a great recent testimony on G's site if you're interested:

We're hoping to keep it updated as much as possible to track all the amazing things that the Lord does in our life b/c of George.

Susanne said...

Gibee, I loved this post. This is so close to my heart because God has caused so much healing in my heart when I allowed myself to just worship him. There is something so profound about raising our hands in worship, it's like surrendering all our pride to just love on God.

Tara said...

Thanks for a great post (whatever day it was, I'm behind). I'm going to have to let loose. I've been wanting to for some time, but have a lot of "childhood church" to overcome.

And the Yes Lord song? I've edited that one when requesting a response from my children. "Yes Mamma, Yes Mamma, Yes yes Mamma". Drives them nuts. :)