It’s a Sunday morning. This is usually your only day of the week to get a little extra sleep, do some chores around the house, maybe even watch the game on TV. But on this particular Sunday, you wake up before your alarm and see the sun streaming through your bedroom window. As you begin to regain consciousness, you become aware of the gentle coo of birds singing their morning song.
And on this Sunday, you decide to do something different. You get up, get dressed, and head to that church your friends have been nagging you about visiting for weeks on end. At least if you show up once, maybe they’ll leave you alone, right?
After you’ve fought the traffic, found a parking spot, walked in, and shaken hands with a bunch of strangers, you begin to follow the sound that, in your memory bank of noises brings you back to the last rock concert you attended. With your interests further piqued by this music that is nothing like the liturgy & hymns of old you remember from Sunday mornings as a small child, you make your way to where the masses have assembled in a large, dark room.
After you find your seat, you stand there (because everyone else is standing) and take in the musicians performance from the stage. They all look happy and keep clapping and smiling and encouraging you to do the same but…you’ve never even heard these songs before. Everyone around you seems to be getting into it, so, whatever, you stand and listen until you’re told to sit and the pastor comes up and gives his lecture…err speech…sermon. That’s right sermon. And afterward you’re feeling pretty inspired. You can really relate to what he was saying and it’s pretty sweet how he tied in some old Bible verses to modern day application; you’ve never heard it paralleled that way before.
So you walk away feeling pretty motivated to apply what you learned into the rest of your day and, heck, you might even carry it over into work on Monday…maybe. Still, you think back to the beginning of the service with all the music and the people raising their hands and closing their eyes and singing and think, “Alright, the sermon part I get, that helped me want to be a better person and it feels pretty great to hear that I’m loved, but what’s the point of all that music? What’s the point of worship?”
As someone who has been singing on church worship teams and leading in that capacity since I could phonate, and someone who now teaches voice lessons and worship leading at the Parkview Worship Academy, these are questions I’ve posed to my students as well. Questions like, “Why do we worship?” “What’s the point?” and “What exactly does it mean to worship God?”
Simply put, the reason that I sing and choose to worship God in that way is this:
I believe that worship is the pure, selfless act of singing a love song to your Beloved.
If you will be so kind to indulge me further, I’d like to paint yet another picture for you as this best portrays what worship means to me.
It’s a warm fall evening. There is a cool, crisp breeze, but the sun is still hot on your skin as it begins it’s descent. You’re walking hand in hand with the one you love toward a secret spot they have picked out. As you look ahead into the distance, the sun almost blinds your ability to see the destination, but the ripple of the river lapping onto the wet rocks is a dead giveaway. You perch up on a sandy, old tree limb nested alongside the shore. The one you love with every fiber of your being sits across from you, takes out their guitar and says, “I want to share something with you.” Then, their fingers begin to pluck note after note, perfectly woven together like a carefully crafted string of pearls. The lovely tune is soon married with a beautiful melody of “hums” and “ooh’s” and “ahh’s.”
Then come the words. Words of adoration. Words of deep love and affection are poured into you as the washes of color from the sunset pours over the treetops and you just bask in this moment. This moment in time that the love of your life carved out of their day just for you. This moment of pure, selfless love all in an attempt to make you feel loved, valuable, and worthy. Not for their own gain, but for the simple satisfaction of knowing how wonderful it makes you feel; knowing full well that you and you alone are the only one deserving of this particular song.
And that, my friends, is worship. It is the act of complete and utter adoration for another being because you just love who they are. And that is the picture I get when I worship and sing praises to my Heavenly Father.
I get another picture too; a picture the Lord gave me during a special prayer time set aside as a sort of “Spiritual Retreat” for our worship team at Parkview. We were in a guided prayer time and were told to imagine ourselves in the safest place we could think of, picture Jesus there, and picture what our interaction would be like; what we would say to Him and what He would say to us. Naturally, I was at home, in my piano room, seated at my baby grand, singing. And Jesus was there in the chair next to me, glass of wine in hand, laughing and smiling, saying, “play me another one Kayla,” “Now, sing this one, I want to hear this one,” as He’d sit back and close his eyes, smile, and just bask in that moment, that moment set aside just for Him.
You see, worship is not for us. It is not about us. It has never been about us.
I always struggle when I hear people say that they didn’t get much out of the worship time. Because I want to respond with, “Great! That’s EXACTLY how it should be…cause it’s not for YOU!”
Worship is a gift. And it doesn’t have to be the gift of song. That’s just one of the many gifts we can bring.
One of the questions I posed to my students during PWA was; “can you worship God in every moment, every circumstance, & in every activity?“
I could see some of them get a bit of a sparkle in their eyes as they smiled crooked smiles with the realization of, "Yes!”
The fact of the matter is, in a human love relationship, we can show our beloved how much we love and adore them in every day life, with every spoken word and through every intentional and unintentional action. Whether we choose to or not is our choice, but the option is still there.
I believe the same is true in our relationship with our beloved Christ.
We can show our love in how we live our lives for him through the words we speak into others and the words we choose in our prayers and conversations with Him. We can honor Him and show Him our adoration in the way we love others and also by the way we marvel at his creation. But in the same way a date night is set aside to celebrate human love, there is something special about setting aside a specific time to pour out our hearts and sing a song of love and adoration; to bring a gift. And it should be a sacrifice. Not necessarily in the negative connotation of the word “sacrifice,” but yes, a sacrifice of time or resources or energy, because the best way to show someone love is through self-sacrificial love. After all, Jesus gave us this perfect example of self-sacrificial love by dying for our sins so that we could have life and have it to the full.
So whether you are musically inclined or not is completely irrelevant, for our Father accepts whatever we have to offer when we offer it joyfully. Bring any and every gift you have to give, bring your jar of expensive perfume and pour it at His feet, bring your scars and your past and your imperfect life, bring the only two copper coins you have; bring the first fruits of your labor, bring your frankincense, your myrrh, and surrendered hearts, and by all means, bring your songs of praise.
My heart will not be moved, O God. I will sing.
Yes, I will sing praises with my soul.
Wake up, different kinds of harps.
I will wake up the new day.
I will give thanks to You among the people, O Lord.
I will sing praises to You among the nations.
For Your loving-kindness is great above the heavens.