This is a hard blog to write. It's hard because I feel myself immediately pulled in two different directions: discuss worship itself- like how we're all innately wired to worship, and how we so frequently direct our worship to creation rather than the Creator- or instead just share some of my personal, sometimes painful, journey with worship. Today I'll choose the latter.
God has used one of the things I hate most to teach me about true worship. Waiting.
I've always hated waiting. My dad is one of those people who takes joy in finding a way around lines, discovering unused shortcuts or somehow increasing the efficiency of things. Both of my parents were brought up under the adage, "Time is money," so from an early age I gathered that waiting is a vice, not a virtue. Subtle "truths" that accompanied this mindset were that I shouldn't have to wait on things, and that it's up to me to change my circumstances and avoid waiting.
I happily embraced those "truths" and carried them with me into my adult life. I relied on myself and believed I was in control. I mistook God's blessings in my life for evidence to support my own perceived self-sufficiency. But my merciful Father lovingly did what I needed most...He opened my eyes to the lies I was living in, and He wrecked me. It didn't come at once, like tidal wave. Instead, it was a steady rain- with moments of breaking sunlight and others of blinding torrents.
I've had to wait in the seemingly mundane things, like sitting in traffic, or watching for a delayed plane with three kids in tow... or just trying to carry laundry baskets upstairs behind an 18 month old. There also have been those significant, desperate seasons of waiting. No matter what the circumstance, waiting always exposes my heart- my desire for control and my true lack of it.
For Andrew and I the most steady rain in this season of waiting has come in the form of financial dependence. God first began to reshape my view of money when He prompted me quit my first full-time job out of grad school. I had placed so much value on my title and found so much of my self-worth in my accomplishments! God was tenderly peeling that away.
I worried about how we would pay our bills, but underneath that worry was really a great fear. It scared me to death to let go of the control I thought I held. Could I really just depend on God? Wasn't there a lot I was supposed to be doing to make things happen?
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. Psalm 37:7
God exposed my wicked heart and unhealthy thinking about money. I used to turn to it for comfort. I believed we needed it to be okay. I believed we were more valuable if we could earn a lot of it. I was embarrassed when we didn't have a lot of it. I was not generous with it. I looked to Jesus for more of it, focusing on what I wanted from His hand, instead of looking at His face and falling down in worship of Him. So what did this Just, Holy, Righteous Creator of the universe do in response to my clear idolatry? He died for me. He took off my filthy, tattered, adulterous clothes and covered me in His robes of righteousness!
We saw the Lord provide in innumerable ways. I got to taste and see that He is good and that He keeps his promises. More of me was graciously being replaced by more of Jesus. It was God's mercy that allowed us to have to rely on Him for our daily bread. All too often I returned again to my anemic self-reliance...only to be mercifully reminded of the riches of the glorious feast found in Jesus!
I slowly adapted to my new role and loved being home with little Eli. Then we found out he would be a big brother! We sat excitedly in the doctor's office, waiting to show Eli his baby brother or sister on the monitor screen. But they couldn't find a heart beat. We saw the tiny baby there, still and silent, and everything inside me screamed for control. We waited and prayed, but the next ultrasound confirmed it. Miscarriage. No control.
I picked up my sweet toddler, Andrew and I picked up our grief, and we went home to wait. The day it happened was so scary. I focused on the physical pain and questions about whether to go to the hospital, but what really was most frightening to me was the sense that something else was dying. I was dying to myself and all my facades of control. And there was peace. Unexplainable, permeating peace. Right in the middle of that torrential downpour. I was never alone, and God was stirring worship in me, even in suffering, by displaying His faithfulness and reminding me of His sovereignty.
We processed that loss with time, talking and lots of the Gospel. Life moved on from there, bringing new healthy babies, new challenges, and so many more examples of God asking us to wait. I've learned to see how loving "No" or "Not yet" can be.
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. Psalm 37:5
He has led me further out upon the waters than I ever imagined, showing me each step of the way that He is good, He can be trusted, and that He is for His own glory, which is my ultimate joy. As God mercifully grows in me a deeper understanding of His character- and helps me see just how finite and completely dependent I truly am- real worship is stirred.
Whatever it is that He is calling you to wait on- a job, a spouse, a child, your next electric bill- turn to Jesus and find much deeper fulfillment than those things alone could ever bring!
I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. Psalm 34:3-5
I can praise God for that little life that we lost, and how He used it to increase my dependence on Him, bringing me greater degrees of freedom. I can thank Him for the pink disconnection notices and overdue bills, because He was showing me that I was running to the wrong things for peace and protection. God has been freeing me from fear. He has lovingly called me out from under the broken, hole-riddled umbrella of self-sufficiency I've been cowering under, to stand, face toward the sky, arms out, worshiping in the rain.