After a hiatus of several decades, I decided to pick up my guitar again. The ramifications have been revolutionary…almost shocking at times. Although my singing and strumming are as bad as ever, the experience has caused me to make some unexpected discoveries about the nature of true worship.
On the most elementary level, worship begins with singing songs ABOUT God. Many of today’s most popular praise songs include the phrase “Our God…” In songs like that, we are singing about our Lord’s many great attributes, but we aren’t necessarily interacting with Him.
On a somewhat higher level, our worship must move into songs directly TO God. This is described in a wonderful line in Misty Edwards’ song, “I Won’t Relent”:
I don’t want to talk about You
Like You’re not in the room
I want to look right at You
I want to sing right to You
Too often, church services are characterized by lots of talk ABOUT God, but not enough genuine interaction WITH God. No wonder people walk away uninspired and unchanged. They needed a touch from the living God, and all they got was a history lesson instead.
Lately, I’ve been surprised by several other insights about the nature of worship—not just during church gatherings, but in my personal times with the Lord as well.
One of my recurring word pictures is an orchestra prior to a concert. If you’ve ever been early to such an event, you’ve heard the strange sound of the orchestra members tuning their instruments. Before they attempt to perform together, they must first make sure they’ve individually tuned their instrument to the right pitch.
The apostle Paul describes the church as the body of Christ, with uniquely gifted members who work together for the common good (1 Corinthians 12). Perhaps if he was writing today, he would also note that the church is meant to be like an orchestra, with a variety of instruments that can function together because they’ve been tuned to a common pitch.
Why is there so much discord in the church? Because we haven’t individually taken time to tune our hearts to the Master’s perfect pitch.
Recently I’ve sensed God’s desire to draw me into a level of worship I haven’t experienced for a long time. Beyond just singing ABOUT Him or even singing TO Him, I’ve been startled to hear Him say that He wants to sing back to us.
Yes, as amazing as it may sound, the Lord wants to SERENADE His people! The Bridegroom wants to sing love songs to His bride!
Wow. Do you see how revolutionary this is? It’s not enough even to sing songs TO God, for He wants to speak to us during our worship and sing back to us.
If you find this mind-blowing and hard to believe, I understand. But it’s in the Bible (and not just in the Song of Solomon!).
Zephaniah 3:17 says:
The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing (NIV).
The Message paraphrases this, “He’ll calm you with his love and delight you with his songs.”
Isn’t it incredible that the God of the entire universe would take time to sing love songs to you and me? Yet that is exactly what the Bible says.
Still not convinced? You can find this same principle in a number of the Psalms (e.g., 91, 95, 32, and 2). The psalmists begin by addressing the Lord, then He breaks in and speaks back to the psalmists.
Psalm 91 starts with “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Adding to this beautiful picture, the text goes on to list some of the awesome blessings derived from living our lives in God’s presence.
However, in the final three verses of the psalm, God Himself breaks in with His own commentary and promises:
“If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
“I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life,
give you a long drink of salvation!” (vs. 14-16 MSG)
Not only does God want to serenade us, but He says He wants to throw us a PARTY! He wants to speak to us…encourage us…and even DANCE with us!
In the process, He will repeal “Spiritual Prohibition” and gives us “a long drink of salvation!” No wonder the early Christians were accused of being drunk (Acts 2:13-15). And the lovers in the Song of Solomon had a similar experience: “Oh, lover and beloved, eat and drink! Yes, drink deeply of your love!” (5:1 NLT)
So my friend, if you’ve found “worship” to be a dry and empty exercise lately, I encourage you to go deeper. Don’t stop until you’ve heard heaven’s love songs. Soak in the Lord’s presence long enough to get intoxicated with His love.
When your heart is tuned to the Bridegroom’s serenade, everything around you will begin to change. When you hear His love songs, you’ll have no alternative but to dance with Him.