Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Embarrassment of Worship

I will celebrate before the Lord

“I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.” 2 Samuel 6:21-22

Those words were spoken by King David, after dancing with all his might in his undergarments before the Lord in the streets. 

People were shouting, trumpets were sounding, his wife was watching with embarrassment, but David was in deep worship before God. 

Deep worship touches the secret places of the soul. It disrobes the private thoughts of the heart, the hidden motives which drive us to do what we do and feel what we feel. Worship before our God is a naked, vulnerable experience in which darkness flees and light floods. 

Uncomfortable, unappealing, isn’t it?
The little black dress of perfectionism

We spend so much effort dressing our souls in fine apparel. 

My personal suggestions for a fine soul wardrobe are the little black dress of perfectionism, a nice pair of people-pleasing skinny jeans, and don’t forget those wonderful high heels just the right color of overachiever. A basic jacket made of good deeds will ensure you are ready to face the crowds.

The thought of facing anyone, let alone God, without being properly dressed is embarrassing.

What if they see me raise my hands? I bet they are wondering why I’m crying. They might think I don’t really have it all together. I can’t sing, anyway! And this darn dress is out of style already.

King David wasn’t concerned about embarrassment. He laid aside his royal adornments and his reputation to worship the Lord with all his might. He understood that his worship was before the Lord, not before people.  

Worship before people is devoid of glory to God.  

This truth hits me where it hurts. For I am a worshipper. I, like you and every other person, was created to worship. So I worship. But I worship me, most of the time. My soul adornments reveal the object of my worship. Sadly, that object is most often myself, and not my Lord.

You see, we are all worshiping before people in some way.  

Striving after our reputations, striving after comfort, after good looks and success, striving after pleasing those around us, striving after money, striving after the perfect children, the perfect family, the perfect life, fill in the blank of your own efforts. Whatever it is, people are watching and we know it.

But God is calling us to embarrass ourselves, the selves that would follow after anyone or anything but Him. He is inviting us to disrobe our souls of anything other than the righteousness woven and custom-made for us by Jesus Christ. There is no need to dress ourselves up to worship. 

No one else’s opinion of our soul matters but God's. 

And He sees it more clearly than we see it ourselves. He requires of you and of me that we worship before Him alone. And, like King David, we do that by focusing solely upon Him, no matter the distractions around us.

I find it intriguing that just after King David makes his declaration of worship to his disapproving wife Michal, the next passage reads, …the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him… (7:1) 

This whispers treasure in a secret place to me. The secret place of worshiping before the Lord; the treasure of being settled, rested. The treasure of rest from our enemies all around.

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 1 Peter 5:10

I long to be settled. Settled in my soul, deep down. Suffering comes in myriad forms, relentlessly at times. It is very much like being surrounded by enemies. We thirst for rest from the assailants of life.

Rest can be found in the secret place of worship. 

Pent up and exhausted
Recently I had the privilege of attending a Bethel Worship Night (see I arrived pent up, wound up, bound up and exhausted. 

Life had me in its vice-grip and I could not even mean the words I sang in the first moments of the concert. Jesus you are all I need, all I want…these words were crowded out by my own needs and wants and I felt distant from God.

But as I persevered, as I waited, as I willed my soul to leave the presence of my own needs and wants, my own suffering, my own life pressures, and enter into the presence of God, I began to unwind. My heart began to soften. My soul began to groan, and something broke free deep down in me. 

I forgot about the crowds of people around me. I stopped listening to how my croaking voice sounded among the others’. I stopped paying attention to who raised their hands in front of me and what they were wearing. Embarrassment, discomfort gave way to relief, to comfort, to revelation of His great love for me exactly as I am.

My own soul adornments had made me uncomfortable in His presence. They had to be laid aside, one by one, before I could sing those words with sincerity and open my hard-edged heart to the refreshment of His Spirit.

I want to become comfortable worshiping him again. Past the embarrassment, past the awkwardness of my own righteousness, I want to celebrate before the Lord, no matter what.

Won’t you join me? It will take perseverance. And it takes time. Fifteen minutes on Sunday morning singing two or three songs is not enough to unfetter the chains of today’s break-neck life. I think this just might be a life-changer, worthy of pursuit in all the moments of the day.

Let’s help each other. And we’ll find rest for our weary souls. Share your story of worship with me.

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