Some weeks ago, I attended a worship concert. It was a joint effort among seven churches from different denominations, who planned, rehearsed and offered their musical talent. The concert was exceptional. One of the best worship concerts I’ve ever attended. Although beautifully performed by so much talent represented in all the voices and instruments, that is not the main reason. It was what was advertised, a night of worship. It made much of Jesus.
I learned something important that day that has been ruminating through my thoughts. The day of the concert was a Friday. Tired from the week’s weight, my husband and I met up after work, and after a quick bite at the food court, we made our way to the church downtown hosting the event.
By the end of the concert, close to 11 pm, walking out of the church which hosted the event, I noticed something right away. I felt rested and so well, even. The fatigue was gone, my head felt refreshed. Heading out, we ran into friends from our church who had also attended the concert. Exchanging impressions, a common theme emerged. We all felt lighter than when we walked in.
It had been a long week for several of us. We were all tired and some of us, like me and my husband, felt spent. Yet somehow, we were feeling relaxed and re-energized by the closing hours of the last day of a long week. We took notice. It was so life-giving, it was hard to ignore.
I love language. Words, their meaning and use, fascinate me. Back at our church, later that Sunday, I wrote down when the pastor mentioned the Greek translation for worship: to bow down, bend the knee, prostrate.
It hits me as I write this. Those are all positions of weakness. Think about it, when you are bowing down, on bended knee, or prostrate you are on the ground, you are laying low with your defences down. We are vulnerable because we are open. The act of worship is an act of surrender. The act of worship leaves us wholly exposed and carefree about it, so consumed we are with Whom we are worshipping.
Something significant happens in that state of surrender. Fully invested in the Other, singing praises, focused on adoring and enjoying the object of our attention, mind and heart are wide open. Unassuming, with only our words – in song, prayer, or both to offer. It’s not about us. We don’t busy ourselves with answers we must bring, how smart we need to sound, or all the things we must manage. The centre is for someone other than ourselves. We gladly take a seat looking up, away from ourselves and toward Him.
Remembering how invigorating that Friday night was for all of us, a thought lingers.
Worship is deeply powerful. I understand in a new light the biblical warnings against idolatry. It isn’t merely a religious mandate to not adore this or that. No. It is to safeguard us. It is a call to worship the right One for in doing so we are renewed. It is not only right and good that we do so. It is good for us.
In a state of adoration, we are surrendered. Our whole being is weakened as all defences are down, and all operating systems (mind, body, soul) are invested in one direction. Surrender engenders openness. When we worship, we are saying “It’s all about You. There is only You right now.” Whatever the object of our worship, it has a great deal of power. We willingly place ourselves under it.
I think back to the years I spent chasing after identity and meaning in accolades and my resume. Serving at the altar of success I soaked up all of the narratives that came with it. It informed everything about me and the world. Whatever we serve will inform and feed us. When we worship the wrong thing, it consumes and drains.
There is something about putting ourselves in the correct perspective. I think back to the words the pastor mentioned; to bow down, to bend knee, to prostrate. When we are made lowly there is room. Lots of room. Upward. And all around. To look up. To fill.
In our mind and heart too, it leaves room for Jesus to take His rightful place. Not only it is biblical. Because it’s biblical, it will bring us life. Joining our friends, we commented later, leaving the church that evening, “worship does a body and mind good.”
I want to recalibrate my head and attitude to the kind of delightful that speaks rest into my tiredness. What we worship, we succumb to. As I worshiped, I submitted easily and found myself rejuvenated. Makes me think of these words by Jesus: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” What makes his yoke easy and his burden light is the submission. We see time and again in the gospels Jesus utterly surrendered to the Father’s will.
The contrast of a word like rest through a device like a yoke or a burden seems contradictory. But what will make the device easier to bear is the position. When we are not fighting for our own way but instead give into the direction the device pulls, the whole process becomes more fluid. Less heavy. I guess simply put, I want to let go of my way and let Him, His Word, is Spirit pull me. Worship is an act of abandon and trust. If I approached my day’s agenda, my aspirations, with the same abandon and trust I sing praises, I wonder if I'd experience more rest in the midst of uncertainty and disappointments.
“He is your praise. He is your God...” Deuteronomy 10:21
Dear soul take note and find rest.