God as the receiver of our worship
The piano lessons started for me when I was in first grade. I hated them. I was much more interested in watching x-men or spiderman cartoons on Saturday than I was in learning how to play Mary Had a Little Lamb. This was in the early 90’s so there was no such thing as DVR or Tivo. But at seven years old I did figure out how to program the VCR. Beyond it’s interference with my cartoon routine, I just didn’t like it. I didn’t wan to learn the songs, I was much more interested in writing my own. Now don’t misunderstand me when I say write my own I mean, taking the four notes i knew went together and putting them in a different order.
I did the same things with Legos, didn’t matter what the instructions said I was building my own thing.
This was before the pandemic of ADD the only label the “system” had for me was dyslexia. The thought was that I couldn't’t focus because I couldn’t read. All that is to say, I suffered through piano lessons for almost four years before completely giving it up. Almost six years later I started writing poetry for an English assignment. Not only did I enjoy it, but I was actually good at it. Good enough that I started writing the poetry assignments for my classmates. I’m still not sure how the teacher didn’t catch dozens of poorly spelled well rhymed lines of iambic pentameter. It was this passion for writing that lead me back to music. I found that my poems started to come with melodies. Not necessarily good melodies but none the less. Eventually I started playing songs at church, our church at the time was a hymns only, drums are of the devil kind of church.
By senior year I had put together the stereo typical high school garage band. We called our selves “Barabbas” and had songs with names like “Blood Washed Stain”. We were going to be the next Jars, or Third Day. Oh, if only future me could talk some sense into high school me. I’ll never forget the first time we were asked to “Lead Worship”. The church was about an hour south and it was the bands first paid gig. We were supposed to lead worship for the morning service and congregation of maybe 75 and then do a coffee shop outreach gig in the evening. The problem was I didn’t even know what “worship” was and I certainly didn’t know any worship songs.
This also happened to be the time in history for Christian Music when every artist and their cousin were putting out a “worship” record. I picked up a couple albums from the book store, selected some songs at random and we learned them for our big show. Looking back on it now, it was certainly a train wreck. We sang the songs wrong, they had nothing to do with the message, and I’m not even convinced our guitars were completely in tune. Must have been my dyslexia.
It took me a long time to realize that worshiping God and worship music are not mutually exclusive. The very first time I lead worship for my church in New York one of the elders pulled me aside after the service and said, “hey that was really good, but maybe next time you could be a little less MTV and little more Jesus”. Which might sound harsh, except he hit the nail on the head, at that point it was still about the show. So, why spend so much time talking about music and worship? One reason is that I truly believe leading the community of faith into the presence of God is absolutely a call on my life and secondly to illustrate that even when we are called to do something it doesn’t happen over night. It was ten years before I was truly able to connect with God and serve others in a worship leading fashion.
Worship is not about music, just as much as my inability to do things the “right way” were not symptom of dyslexia. God is the author and finisher of our faith and if he truly is an author maybe we are simply scribes of praise, writing his truth on the hearts of the broken. Grace is God saying I LOVE YOU; and Worship is simply us replying I LOVE YOU TOO. John 4 tells us to worship in spirit and in truth. I really think John is building in this idea that our response to God is both mental and emotional. Whatever it is that we do that is connected to the heart of God and His heart for others IS worship. Whether that be singing, serving, praying, reading, or just listening; it’s all worship..
Second Timothy 2
22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, together with those who worship the Lord from a pure heart. 23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. 24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.