Monday, October 25, 2010

The formula for worship

for the Essentials Blue In Worship Theology Certificate Course with Dan Wilt

One of the things I have absolutely loved about my experience at has been the absolute gems that are the course spines. Amazing, thought-provoking, deep and wide...I wouldn't have discovered them otherwise as they weren't even on my reading radar.

For e*b Certificate level, I had the choice to read Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright or Worship by Evelyn Underhill. Sometimes an overachiever, I am choosing to read both at a slow and thoughtful pace. As I said in yesterday's post, I've finished Surprised and will be writing an essay (sounds so bookish and official, like I'm back in school or something) on it as soon as I process a bit more.

Wright I "met" last year and now want to read everything he's written. Evelyn is a brand new friend, and I think I'm really going to like her. She writes with great depth and passion on my greatest passion: worship. I am taking small bites and chewing many times, so I've barely made it past the intro.

"Worship," says Evelyn, "is the response of the creature to the Eternal." [1] God shows up. I respond with worship. If there is no revelation, there can be no worship.

So often, though, worship gets wrapped up in me: my posture, my position, my thoughts, my heart. That's called self-focus, and however holy it may seem to "examine myself", it's about the farthest thing away from worship. Not that a realization of that within me which is not right won't occur when God shows up. But that should never be my focus. If anything, it should bring me to a realization of the goodness and greatness of God, creating a desire in me to draw near to Him so that I might be more like Him, leaving that old stuff behind and embracing His holiness and righteousness that He has placed within me to make me more like Himself.

About 9 years ago, while pregnant with baby #4, I attended a conference in Fort Worth. The worship leader was gifted and anointed to lead us into the presence of God. People were freely worshiping all over the auditorium, all the way right up to the stage. The first night, I sat about as far in the back as I could get...up in the balcony on just about the last row. I found it terribly difficult to engage with the Lord in worship, so I examined myself, was found wanting, and focused on what I had done wrong and needed to do better.

The next day, I sat closer to the front. Engaging was a little easier, but again, I was focused on the things I had done wrong and needed to do better in order to be a more worthy worshipper. I remember very clearly the moment the Lord broke into my reverie: "Who is worship about anyway? Why don't you try looking at Me for a change. Go up front and focus on Who I am."

In an instant I realized the subtle deception I had been under, thinking that somehow I was worshipping by recounting, and even repenting, of what I had done wrong. Now, repenting is not wrong, but I and the things I have done wrong should never ever become the objects of my focus. That, pure and simple, is idolatry. The Lord revealed the lie. Replaced it with His truth. Repentance came. My heart turned and focused on the One. And as a physical act of the change in perspective my heart had just undergone, I went up front, and I danced before the Lord.

Such freedom! Such glory! What a Saviour!!!

Evelyn says it well: "'I come to seek God because I need Him,' may be an adequate formula for prayer. 'I come to adore His splendour, and fling myself and all that I have at His feet,' is the only possible formula for worship.'" [2]

God revealed Himself to me that day. I flung myself at His feet, and in His light, I saw light. [3] I worshipped in spirit and in truth, and I have never been the same...because all of that stuff that had captured my attention before was turned to beauty by just one glance of His eye. [4] I don't need to look at it. I just need to look at Him, and then, and only then, will I find myself being increasingly transformed into His image, from glory to glory [5], a new creation washed and made clean by the power of the blood of the Lamb, made perfect through His perfect sacrifice.

My eyes fixed on You
Revealing Yourself to me
I'm changed by what I see
in You

Your glory fills my heart
Worship flows
from the start
It's You
I see You

I see You
I am new

May my gaze
be ever fixed
on You

May revelation
ever continue
from You

May worship
ever spring forth
to You

1 Evelyn Underhill, Worship (USA, Harper & Brothers, 1937), 3.
2 ibid, 9.
3 Psalm 36:9 NIV.
4 Evelyn Underhill, Worship (USA, Harper & Brothers, 1937), 6.
5 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV, NASB.

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