Tuesday, March 11, 2014
I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD!" - Psalm 122:1
I've been thinking about this verse for many months now. If I'm honest, I can say that there have been many weekends that start with gladness and end with grumbling. My time at church begins with thoughts of joy to be in the Lord's house and end with complaints about my children. I typically end up sitting downstairs watching the service on a TV screen, nursing a baby and trying to contain a toddler with a quiet activity so that I can actually hear the sermon.
You'd think that with two services per weekend and the pastor available in my own home I'd be able to somehow eek out a full sermon's worth of listening. But week after week passes and when we arrive home I find myself venting frustration to my husband about how little I get out of the church service. I am a single parent in the pew as my husband preaches and leads the service. And sometimes I feel like my six children gang up on me!
In the last few weeks alone my children have broken two pews, ripped a hymnal, drawn in a church Bible, hummed through the entire service, sprawled out in the aisle during the sermon, distracted people during the children's sermon, and run like hooligans throughout the sanctuary. We've had many friends rescue us by sitting with one of the littles. I'm so thankful for those friends!
I know some of you are commiserating with me. You have the same problem. Week after week you bring your children to church and find that you return home feeling like you've been through a war. I meet you downstairs in the fellowship hall and you're just as strung out as I am. Perhaps you've reached the point of deciding to just forego bringing your kids to church until they are older. Maybe you don't even bother to come yourself during this time of intense parenting.
I don't judge you. I get it. And some Sundays I wonder why I am doing this over and over and over again.
It all comes down to this question: Why do we worship?
Is worship for me? Is it for my children? Is it so that I can tank up to survive another hectic week? Is the reason for church attendance so that I can put a check in the box now that I've done my religious duty? Or is there something more?
If worship is about me or my children then I can say it's not working on most weekends. It can't be just to fill me up, because I am often drained from the war in the pew. If I only go to fulfill a religious duty, then it's meaningless and empty.
No, worship is not about me. Worship is for the One I worship. The songs we sing focus our hearts on Christ. They remind us of Jesus' sacrifice, God's holiness, the hope of our salvation. The study of the Word teaches us more about the God we serve and draws us closer to Him. We learn how to live our lives in accordance with God's will and are brought face to face with the beauty of Christ. Worship is about God and for God. It springs from deep within us as we are stirred by the Holy Spirit. And then there's fellowship with other believers. And while that is filling, it is also a form of worship. A time to encourage one another, share what we are learning, and share one another's burdens.
I asked my daughter what she has learned from watching me go through this stage of struggle with the little ones. Her reply was this, "I've learned that you should worship God nomatter what."
Wow! That's a profound thought for a 10 year old. And do you know when that knowledge is going to be most helpful to her? When she's facing a difficult time in life. When her heart is breaking, when her health is weak, when her finances are a mess. At those times she will remember, "you worship God nomatter what."
It reminds me of the song that my kids love to belt out at the top of their lungs: Blessed Be Your Name by Matt Redman.
Blessed be Your name
When the suns's shining down on me
When the world's all as it should be
Blessed be your name
Blessed be your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be your name.
Yes! That's it! We worship when it's easy and when it's hard. Circumstances don't alter our need to worship the Lord of Lords. So whether it's just you in the pew, rested and completely focused, or if there are young children wrestling noisily by your side, worship is meant to be constant.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in ALL CIRCUMSTANCES; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18