Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Heartsongs

I got mad tonight. It's a rare thing when I get truly angry.
Oh sure, I'll rant. Most of my rants though are done in good humor. I believe everyone SHOULD eat ketchup on their hotdog, it's NOT unAmerican, and yes, it IS way better than mustard.
But this tonight was simply angry.

Just before church during a little practice time for the choir (temporarily the size of a trio, but we'll grow) the very last song that we sang was about worship.
The words say "We have come into His house, and gathered in His name, to worship Him"

Somewhere during that song the importance of the 'gathered in His name' really hit me.
It's better to not do anything at all (it seems) than to do something half-hearted and luke-warm under the banner of being gathered in Christs name.

Shortly after the practice, our small, but kind-hearted congregation stood up and sang about rejoicing in the day that the Lord has made, entering into His gates with praise, and bringing a sacrifice - a sacrifice mind you - of praise.

It's not really about the people, or how well, or how loud we sang or didn't sing. It was the idea (that Sister Cala recently reminded me of in a comment) that we were singing and not worshipping. I'm not pointing fingers, I was too busy contemplating all this rather than shoving it out to worship for the most part. Something just kept feeling wrong with the picture.

I wanted to ask God to not watch.

It's like having a group of people gathered around a birthday cake, but singing "Happy birthday" in a monotone voice while the people distractedly looked around the room. I wouldn't want a child to be sung to on his birthday like that. It could hurt their feelings.

And that's just what I kept thinking tonight. "God, I'm sorry... turn Your head, don't look."

It's not about how loud you sing. It's not about whether you stand up or sit down during the service. It's not about raised hands, closed eyes, or good musicians. It's not about the song service that has been perfectly worked out before hand with all the copies made of all the words so everyone will know what to sing and when.

It's about that moment when you feel someones heart begin to cry out with thanksgiving, as they enter His courts with praise. When a persons heart shouts HE HAS MADE ME GLAD!!!!!!!!!!!!! and that shout doesn't have to be any louder than a whisper to be felt across the entire room.

It's about singing with your heart, and not your mouth.

We fail to apply the fact that He is Holy. Yeshua, Jehovah, Yahweh. Sure, we know it. But we fail to apply it. We invite God into our presence and then routinely offer Him less than our best. We are Cain.

I'm not condemning my church. I love my church. I'm not even trying to say they did something wrong tonight. I don't believe that they did. But I don't think we offered our best.

I just wish I could hear what it would sound like if my little church sang like Christ was actually listening. There is so much hurt though, within families of churches (everywhere, not just my own) that I imagine the singing would quite quickly dissolve into weeping. I think lives would change.

I do not mean to sound judgemental, if anything I feel the sting of conviction as I write this knowing that I offered less than my best as well.

Since the first of the year I've maintained a constant cry for more of God. I got it too, though I still cry for more. The strange gifts He's given over the past months have only made me addicted, hoping for my next fix of Him. But lately the idea of "we've got to do better" has been right beside "we need more of You".

Sure you can say that we can do nothing on our own and that we must simply pray and God will help us do better. I agree. But often I believe God makes things possible - not necessarily easy. Sacrifice, dying to self, crucifying the flesh those aren't things that are done easily simply because you woke up and said a prayer. I just can't believe that. Sometimes you just have to stick your flesh in the corner and then truly, bring a sacrifice of praise. A sacrifice costs you something. Next time, before I dare to sing to God that I'm bringing a sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord I think I'll make sure I really am. Or else it's just called lying. Boasting. Worse, boasting of something that isn't true.

Sure it sounds holy to sing that. Sounds like a great group of Christians bringing their sacrifice of praise. I wonder if God ever gets mad at us? Like a 15 year old taking a crayon and scribbling on a paper and then giving it as a gift we look to God expecting a smile. If I were God, I'd be disappointed in some of the gifts I've brought. I'd be angry at my self-righteous air of having done something pleasing to Him. I'd want to sock it to me, and let me know how disgusting my half-hearted attempts look compared to His glory.

I'm glad God isn't like me.

I don't want to leave you on this seemingly complaining note. So I'll add the bright side to the whole thing. As I mentioned in a post earlier this week God is easy to please. When we worship Him with our whole hearts - sincere and undivided - It doesn't matter how pretty our voices are, if we sing the right words, to the right time, or end up humming. He is our proud Father, smiling down on our efforts and gifts. He loves us.

And if we ever just stopped to think about Him and His goodness towards us as we sang maybe, much like Abraham walking back down Mount Moriah with Isaac, we'd later discover that our sacrifice of praise, was no sacrifice at all.

3 comments:

NaNcY said...

i sometimes have to make myself get past singing a song that the words are not mine...or do not match what i am doing....like, when a song sings something like, i want to bow down...or lift my hands, and it seems like even if i am there, the group is not open to doing that. anyway what i am trying to say is that if the songs could reflect just very simply the praising God to bring all in the gathering together in the Spirit then maybe the worship would be more unified. the hearts could be brought toghether and the mind would follow. the song has to start out being a song that all can agree and identify with the words being said to bring unity.

SLW said...

Sounds like your church could use and update in its repertoire!

You are absolutely right about this, Flyaway. Worship, to be worship, to express truth about our relationship to God, must be heartfelt. It's often an issue of focus rather than not having the heart-- folk are distracted when they gather, but have learned to proceed going through the motions. Sometimes we just need to stop and contemplate God: his goodness, mercy, etc, and begin to thank him personally, with our own words, or even just to be still in order to turn our eyes upon Jesus. If we can focus upon God before we proceed with corporate worship, it is much more likely to rise like a fountain from our hearts.

For a church to get out of the doldrums, someone has to get mad at hell and refuse to take it anymore (maybe that's what you were feeling), and then determine to never again sacrifice something that didn't cost her anything. Then, regardless of what anyone else is doing, to worship God with all she's worth for all He's worth. It only takes a spark... be that spark.

J. W. Poteet II said...

*quietly clears throat*