Worship and writing are the two passions that God instilled in me. The following is a part of my testimony and details the events leading up to the moment the burning passion for Worship ignited within my soul.
When my now-husband first invited me to his church in 2000, I hadn’t darkened the door of a church for nearly 15 years. It was the first charismatic/pentecostal service I experienced as an adult. My upbringing resurfaced, and I immediately categorized the character of the service as a “show,” including - and especially - the music. The worship pastor, Chris Allen, was this big ole crazy guy that jumped up and down, pounded on the keyboard, threw his head back and closed his eyes as he sang. The choir was only slightly more reserved while (gasp!) raising their hands, which made me terribly uncomfortable. I grew up in a conservative church where these types of displays were eschewed, and even considered nonsensical. Looked a lot like Vegas to me.
Early in our relationship, then marriage, we attended services haphazardly, mostly attending out of expectation and churlish obedience. We had been married a little over a year when God finally got our attention in a way we could not ignore. In the tragic events of that Labor Day weekend in 2003, He conveyed that He would no longer accept the little bit of our time or attention that we offered when it was convenient for us. Beginning now - it was all or nothing.
I made sure I was in service every Sunday, even with Craig’s demolished shoulder and arm in a sling, through the weeks of agonizing recovery after surgery to rebuild his shoulder, with his three pre-teen children in my charge. To add to the quagmire of my life, I had just begun a new job, totally out of my realm of experience and comfort. I remember sitting in church thinking "ok, God. I'm here. So now what?" Petulant - like a child sitting in the corner after being caught with hand in cookie jar - but I knew better than to disobey God.
As I soon discovered, choosing the right habits - even when the heart isn’t thoroughly engaged - can ultimately bring contentment, pleasure and wisdom. Weeks of hearing the Word again on a regular basis. The knowledge that God had indeed spoken to my heart on the river bank that fateful day. Being consistently exposed to a company of godly people. Hearing the testimonies of answered prayer. The Holy Spirit was doing a work in me. He was softening my heart and my spirit and encouraging me to draw nearer. I saw transformations in lives all around me. I knew God was at work in this place. I found myself wanting more.
But I still inwardly sneered at the worship service. You know, we really are afraid of what we don’t understand. And when we are afraid, we tend to act out in a defiant, pretentious manner in order to mask the fear. Yet, somewhere deep in my soul, I knew this was no Vegas show. The palpable presence of the Holy Spirit was very apparent. I could not deny that this was real.
I’ll never forget the Sunday morning I finally “got it.” I don’t remember the sermon that was preached day. I don’t even remember the song we were singing when it happened. Pastor Chris and the choir were at full throttle. All at once, I began singing the song directly to God from my heart. The tears of gratitude tumbled down my face. I didn’t concentrate on singing the melody perfectly. In fact, I’m pretty sure I stopped singing altogether. I was communing with my Savior, I was speaking/singing these words directly to Him.
My pitiful life, pieced together and now held tightly within His grace. The awful pit He plucked me from. The rebellious run I had been on the past 20 years. All those things hit me with such force that I was stricken by His Grace, by His Sacrifice, utterly humbled that He died to save me.
It was as if Jesus stood in front of me, presenting me with a box that held all the junk of my past. He closed and sealed the box with His Blood. All I could do was worship His Holiness.
The physical and spiritual sensation I experienced was likened to a volcano erupting from deep inside me, the energy of the Holy Spirit filling every crevice in this cracked pot of clay, then overflowing into the very air around me. I knew I had come closer to the Throne that I ever had before. My innermost self was totally exposed to Him in this very tender moment. The presence of God was so strong around me that I felt … simply undone.
This is where true worship begins. At the end of ourselves. Abasing ourselves and remembering where we were when He found us and what He saved us from. If we start there, there is no other reasonable response than to praise and worship Him with total abandon. He alone is worthy.