“Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, which is your spiritual service of worship.”
– Romans 12:1
What is worship?
Three huge screens beam the words so everyone in the entire building can see them. The worship team moves seamlessly from one song to the next as the service begins. A few people scurry breathlessly in and find their seats as the music plays.
A young woman in the row in front of me combs through her purse. She glances down at her daughter, who squirms and bobs in and out of her chair. The girl and her mom talk in stage whispers, fidgeting in unison. I close my eyes, redirect my attention back to the music, and sigh.
Are we already on the last song?
Too soon, it’s over. We enjoyed a beautiful song service. But had I worshiped?
In the Bible, worship is associated with reverence, obedience, and submission. It often followed a moment of revelation of the greatness of God. It came as the people faced terrible enemies and sought His deliverance: an expression of awe, a sign of surrender, a declaration of trust.
I love the praise service at church. I enjoy the music, the heart of the worship leaders, the fidgeting children, and singing my heart out with my friends. I know, though, that the call to worship is so much more. It commands our attention. It requires a change in attitude. It demands a decision.
As Abraham prepared his beloved son for sacrifice in obedience to God’s command he told the others, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.” (Genesis 22:5)
As Moses interceded for the Israelites, he “made haste to bow low toward earth and worship” in the presence of God. (Ex. 34:8)
King Jehoshaphat and all of Judah fell on their faces to the ground and worshipped the Lord before going out to war against their enemies. (2 Chronicles 20:18)
The disciples worshipped Jesus when He walked on water to reach their boat and calm the storm. (Matthew 14:33).
The purest act of worship I was privileged to witness didn’t happen at church but in an intensive care unit.
The young man in the bed was paralyzed from the neck down. He lay limply against the sterile white sheets. The ventilator keeping him alive pumped air into his lungs, which were now infected with pneumonia. He had just survived a respiratory code in which he had nearly died and had to be resuscitated.
When I entered the room, his two brothers stood weeping at his feet. My husband and I walked to his bed. It was the first time I had seen our son since his transfer from the hospital in Canada after his devastating spinal cord injury.
As we reached his side, he whispered a request. He asked us to lift his hands to God. His father took his lifeless right arm, I took his left, and we stretched our son’s hands toward heaven. Toward His Father. Like a child reaches for his daddy. I don’t remember what we said or prayed that day. It didn’t matter.
We just worshiped.
God heard our cries and delivered our son. Eternity will not be long enough to serve such a King.
How has God captured your heart and brought you to a place of pure worship?
Image courtesy Erik Thorson