If you’ve been to a church service you can assume that there will be singing of some sort. It will usually happen at least twice, once in the beginning of the service, and once at the end. It’s a time to worship the Lord through song, and to sing praises to Him. Now for me this time was always awesome because I just love to sing, even when I wasn’t a believer I just loved singing so much that I would go to church just to sing. However at the time, like I said I wasn’t a believer at the time so the songs meant nothing to me, but the music was always amazing. It’s interesting and hear the songs that I heard as a child and teen, and listen to them now and understand them, and love them. They were such awesome songs that clearly displayed the gospel, that I’m often shocked as to how I never became a believer, and walking with the Lord until college. It was really just that at the time I didn’t care to hear the gospel so I didn’t. However that’s not what this blog will be about, instead it will be about the intimacy in worship. So get ready!
I’ve been on this kick recently in wanting to understand how God really is intimate, and He created us for relationships. That relationship stretches to every aspect of our walks with Him, from to prayer, to reading our bibles, and for me especially through worship. I got the amazing opportunity to co-lead worship on my summer project. I got to co-lead with a guy named BJ and it was always a fun process in picking music to play because one thing that we wanted to do every week was to clearly paint a picture of the gospel through song. Now another hard part of that was also finding music that matched whatever the lesson would be on, and making it all tie in and tell the story of the Gospel. To say it was challenging some weeks would be an understatement.Oh and did I mention that we only had one night to practice and plan all of this, because that’s when we would find out what the lesson would be on! So ridiculous, but it didn’t matter because we always knew it would work out.
Now through planing worship with BJ I always got to see his heart in it, and I envied that heart. I saw that he was never picking songs because he knew he could play the guitar really well for one, or that his voice worked perfectly with one song. No instead he would pick songs because they displayed Christ, and the Gospel perfectly. No matter how difficult the songs were, or how little time we had to learn them, we did them because it’s where we felt the Lord was calling us to do. Like I said this was unlike any worship experience I had ever had before. Because growing up I was thrown into the choir because my grandma wanted me to enjoy church, so I got the solos, and the front row all because I could sing, but I never really understood what I was singing so it wasn’t worship. What I did on project, that was worship. We would always take 5 minutes before beginning family night to go and pray on our own, and ask God to work through us and bless the time of worship, and to not allow it to be for ourselves but instead for Him.
There are two specific places in scripture that point out how awesome worship through music is, and naturally they’re both in the Psalms! The first one is Psalms 98. Verse one of this Psalm, King David is talking about how we should make a joyful noise to The Lord because He has done marvelous things. Singing worship is a form of praising God, so why wouldn’t you use that Marvelous thing that He’s given us called a life and worship him through it. Now I want to take a slight side note and say that Id don’t for a second believe that David was just meaning this in a form of singing worship, but instead life worship. Worship the Lord not just through song but with your life. Worship is not limited to music but also through service, and submission, and most importantly Love! You can serve the Lord simply by loving others like He does. Also the word Joyful to me means that it’s not fake. You shouldn’t be doing this all because God wants you too, because then it’s fake, not genuine, and the one’s you’re loving and serving are just projects, and not people. So make it real and do it honestly. God gave us life, so we can definitely serve Him in this way.
Now the next verse is very common when it comes to worship, however I want to once again take a deeper look at it. This one also comes from Psalms, and I’m pretty sure it’s one of the shortest sections in the bible but it’s packed with so much truth, that I just love it so much, and I believe it is so worth sharing!
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
Now to start of this section begins with same phrase as the last, “Make a JOYFUL noise to the Lord”. Once again King is still writing this, and I really believe that he means this in just a way as music but also in life, so lets keep that in mind. However this verse really outlines all that I said about the last verse. Verse two of this passage says to serve the Lord with Gladness. Now I would even add, “and a willing heart.” if we were reading from the Brooke vesrion of the bible, did you get what I did there :). But once again we’re not just singing praises and serving the Lord because we know it’s what need need to do, but also because we want to. It allows us to love God, and show His love to others. Verse three now specifically brings in doing it through music, but also adoration! “Come into His presence with singing! Know that the Lord, He is God!” Not just are we stepping into His light and praising Him, but we are also acknowledging why He should be praised. He gave us life, and one worth living, not to just sit idly and watch it pass by! We are then called to enter into that time of praise with gladness, and thanksgiving. This is where the true intimacy comes out. This time is You and God, no one else. When I would co-lead worship I always wanted to still be worshiping while I was up there. I didn’t want to just be singing and not have the heart in it. I still found a way to make that a time of me and God, where yea I had BJ standing next to me and about 50 people staring at me, but I still wanted it really be just me and God. Many do this through dancing, singing louder, closing their eyes, anything that they’re comfortable with. Some forms are more expressive than others. For me it was always closing my eyes, and imaging being at the foot of the throne, and just praising the Lord! It is the MOST FREEING feeling in the world for me, and that is what I believe King David wants us to find in worship. Freedom, not just what we get when we choose to follow Jesus, but abundant freedom to worship however we like!
For me being able to close my eyes, and sway back and forth, and do whatever else I do when I worship is such a freedom calling! The Lord works through us in the moments if we allow Him to, and I think that is the most intimate parts. For the recent conference that I attended I found a lot of my time in worship being me sitting in my eat and just crying, and talking to God. That was the greatest worship I’ve ever experienced! It was being able to sit, and be humbled by the Lord, and just being with Him. I was taught so much, and I knew that God was with me in those moments not just because I was worshiping but because I fell before the throne and cried out to God, and grabbed onto that intimacy and relationship that I have with Him, and I let it live out. That is the beauty in worship through music!
Now one last story about worship on summer project, but first a side note, I have extreme allergies when there is salt in the air. For that my voice and body as a whole suffered this past summer, but for some reason I was always good when it came time for Worship on Wednesday nights, that’s just because God is so good! But back to the story, so it was our last family night on project, and I knew it was going to be an emotional one so we prepared a set that would allow for that intimacy and relationship to really reign over the night. One song that we picked specifically was the hymn, “Before the Throne.” This song is so beautiful and it’s very much how I came to Christ! One of the Chorus’ says, “My name is graven on His hands, and my name is written on His heart!” Talk about intimate and personal! That part of the song brings me to tears about 90% of the time. Unfortunately for me that’s the first chorus of the song. Now I was very fortunate to be on a project that was blessed with a worshipful bunch and when that song came I opened my eyes, and looked at the crowd and saw every person truly worshiping the Lord, and more then just the chorus of that song, instead it was that beautiful sight that brought me to tears. We were all super emotional because we were getting ready to leave our family that we had made over the last 70 days. So there were a lot of tears, but in that I truly feel that those tears came from feeling the comfort and love from our Heavenly Father. They came from Him who created us to love each other, and truly bask in the awesomeness of that summer, and in that bask in His glory.
That night will be one I will never forget, not because it was the last night on project, but because I know that forever more God gave us all a peace. He gave us all a quick glimpse of how truly awesome our summers were. And I know that for BJ and I getting to experience the joy of truly listening to the Lord on which songs to pick all came through in that moment. We knew that every song that night was truly picked out by God, because each one of those songs was chosen because God wanted to use them in someone’s life, and for that I feel truly thankful!
I have recently been listening to the Will Reagan and United Pursuit album called, “Endless Years.” On this album the very last song is called, “Through and Through.” I’ve actually been listening to it for the duration of writing this blog. This song is absolutely incredible and I highly recommend the album to all. United Pursuit as a whole are really amazing with their lyrics, and I love it! This song really just repeats the line, “You see me, You know me, and You love me Through and Through.” This line is so true of our relationship with the Lord. Through every thing He loves us, he is always intimate, and personal with us, and for that I praise him daily!