“True worship can only take place when we agree to God sitting not only on His throne in the centre of the universe, but on the throne that stands in the centre of our heart” ~ Robert Colman
An invitation had been issued. So we came. Standing on the threshold of the future.
Hands slippery, nerves tinged with excitement as I held fast to my leonine boyfriend, he of the long tawny mane and liquid-brown roving eyes, urging him toward the back row for Outsiders such as we.
We parked ourselves, politely quiet and oddly formal. Little did I know how familiar such venues were to him, though he hid it well.
Slowly, the room began to fill. No longer the only youthful faces, confirmed by his engaging smile and approving glance as he skirted and flirted safe with me beside.
Then I saw Them. My heart somersaulted, lips dried as I felt again that buzz of connectivity like a jolt of electricity.
Ishmael and Andy. Gospel duo. My reason for coming.
No longer in Sixth Form Common Room, filling it with their vibrant lyrics, faces shining.
Now filling this place with more sound and a mysterious glow – an indefinable Something Else in the air.
As they strummed and thrummed once more, I relaxed into the flow, mellowed out. Caught Lion Mane head-banging in his own inimitable, uninhibited style, caring not who saw him.
I tapped, swayed and clapped, caught up, unknowingly, in the beat and rhythm of life itself. Senses fully engaged and alert as sound, singing and sweetness washed over me.
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Things slowed. Voices speaking. One voice taking up the mike.
Ears pricked. Room hushed. A message given.
Spoken just to me.
All was still. Save for a heart hammering fit to burst.
I drank in every word, desert-thirsty for Water that would satiate to the full, absorbing every drop
Words ringing bell-like in head and heart – He. Loves. Me. God loves me??
Never before had I known love Pure … Holy Offering … Unconditional.
I sought answers, meaning, purpose and love everywhere:inappropriate love-givers, horoscopes, Ouija boards, levitation, writing smut, being lust for others.
Casting the net wide, diving deep into murky, treacherous waters, seeking hidden treasure, pearl of great price, and coming up empty, left with silted mouth and heart.
As child I lay grass-stained looking to heaven, seeing angels in my eyes, always knowing there must be Something Else out there. A better way to live. Someone Who ReallyCared.
This child-prodigal was running into arms of Father. Reunited with the One who knew her before she was brought into being.
Spark of Life awakening a deadened spirit to His Love.
The thrill of knowing and being known ran through me with emotions and heart on fire.
Breath-stop moment of recognition. My soul rejoicing. Heart hungry. Desperate to believe.
“It’s not the art, it’s the heart. What God reads during our worship is the inner attitude. Worship is spiritual; it’s organic; it’s relational” ~ La Mar Buchanan
The band blended into mist…instantly forgotten.
The boyfriend…equally lost to awareness.
The people…faded out of sight.
I fell into Love’s arms and He held tight
Tears fell. No lady-like flow. This was snot-nosed-kid gushing, heart-poured-out waterfall.
Thrill of being enraptured and captured.
Here was surrender.
Here was adoration.
Here was worship.
I laid it all down before God
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All my years (17)
All my sadness, shame and pain (yes, much even then)
And all my being tugged irresistibly in His direction as I shakily joined the snaking line threading its way down the aisle.
Sobbing. Laughter. Cries. Strange foreign-tongued rising cadence, knitting of words beyond understanding, as others gave interpretation.
All mingled in this strange world called Church I would soon be a part of. Waiting to receive me as an adopted child by grace.
Now, a few decades on – a lifetime of living, leaving, losing, pulling away, being broken, being lost, being renewed, being restored and made whole again – I can never fully recapture the awesome, beautiful moment of coming to faith in Christ.
Nothing else comes close to the sheer wonder of giving ‘Worth-Ship’ to my God for the very first time
Many idols compete for attention and many sorrows drown out His voice for a while.
“Every moment I live, I live bowed to something. And if I don’t see God, I’ll bow down to something else” ~ Ann Voskamp
Yet…He still holds out hands to me… grace unlimited, forgiveness, cleansing.
And I offer myself afresh. Living sacrifice of praise. Unworthy as I am and always will be.
And every time my eyes slide from His face, and I backslide from His grace, my heart knows..
It’s not about me.
It’s not about the place.
It’s not even about the worship band, or the building, or the service, or the flowers, candles, vestments, robes, positions, pomp and pageantry, ‘the way we do it’ all, good as these things may be.
In the hands lifted high, praise, rejoicing, singing, laughing, crying, praying, silence, prone and prostrate, work, rest and play moments – all can be worship – with heart, soul, mind, will and emotions given over, and daily offering of lives surrendered.
For it’s all about Him.
Always has been.
Always will be.
The heart of worship is coming back to God’s heart, right where we belong.