The room is dimly lit, a soft hum emitted from the keyboard fills the sanctuary, the pastor speaks the final words of his prayer and at the amen, invites those gathered to join in worship. All throughout the proceeding songs, hands are raised, eyes are closed, and the gentle sway of those filled with the Spirit rock back and forth. This is worship. Worship of the Creator. The King. Our Lord. Our Savior. Our Hope. Our God. This is worship, and this has been one of the biggest struggles in my walk with Christ.
To premise, I never thought myself to be the singing type when I was growing up in church. From what I can recollect, singing was always girly to me (maybe because I had the voice of a girl at that time). I never felt like it was something that the men of the church did. Whenever our congregation lifted up a joyful noise to God, the overpowering and dominant force were not the baritones and low tenors of the men, but the altos and sopranos of the women. This made me conclude it was not that important that I added my own prepubescent notes to the congregation.
While growing up in my small Baptist church, I also had a very strong concern with those people that some might label charismatic. In my own limited thinking, I could never understand why people were raising their hands and closing their eyes. The one thing that bugged me the most during church was my dad saying "amen!" at the end of every phrase spoken by my pastor. I didn't know anything about what it meant to be filled with the Spirit because my religion wasn't real to me. My faith wasn't tangible when I was growing up. It was just another aspect of my life, like homework or video games. Church was just something I did. Unfortunately, this mindset would only continue until I reached my junior year of high school, six years after I "claimed" to have received the Holy Spirit.
When I recommitted my life to Christ and surrendered my pride and control to His will at the Downtown Mars Hill location in Seattle, it was like a switch had been flipped. I witnessed hundreds of people testifying to their acceptance of Christ and immediately being baptized. I couldn't help but lift my hands. I couldn't help but sing at the top of my lungs. My God had hooked me and all I wanted to do was praise Him.
But then reality set in. I was back at my church in Snoqualmie, with not nearly as many lights, speakers, or shiny guitars. My mind had developed a "worship formula" so far off from what God intended that I wasn't able to feel the Spirit move within me. I had become numb to genuine, heart-breaking worship, the kind of worship we will experience as we join together as the Church in Heaven. I had built up these expectations of what worship was and as it usually works out, God would eventually tear down those walls during my first year of college.
Every Tuesday night I joined with my college-age brothers and sisters for church. On those Tuesday nights I learned the real definition of Spirit-led worship.
On those Tuesday nights, I would see the guys from my Bible study small group lifting their hands and practically screaming the lyrics as they appeared on the screen. These were men that I respected. Men that I looked up to. To see them worshipping with everything they had made me really understand what worship really was. I learned that worship was more than just lights, loud speakers, and a big worship band. I learned that worship was just about God and me. That when I was singing, with my hands lifted, and my eyes closed, my only thought was "How could I possibly convey how worthy You are of this Lord?" My mind wasn't concerned with what people might think of me (pretty much) dancing to the beat of the drums or the strum of the guitars. I didn't care what people thought about me. I only cared about how I could show my God that I am thankful for what He has done, is doing, and will do in the future. I only care that I do what I was designed to do, and that is give my King glory.
Christians, if you feel like worship is just something we do in church, I'd encourage you to flip through the book of Psalms. Every chapter is littered with praises, prayers, shouts of acclamation and affirmation, and God-glorifying words.
Worship is so much more than we could ever really describe. It is every action, word, or thought. That is how worship should be understood.
Check your heart and understand that this is what we will be doing for eternity. When you are able to come to that Spirit-filled moment of genuine worship, understand that it is but a taste of what is to come. Imagine singing with the Heavenly choir, where every baritone, tenor, alto, and soprano are equally represented. All hands are lifted, every eye is upon the One that sits on His throne, the One worthy of all praise and glory. He is worthy of everything we have. He is worthy.