Wednesday, January 11, 2012

On Worship

How lovely is your dwelling place,
  LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
  for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
  for the living God. 

Even the sparrow has found a home,
  and the swallow a nest for herself,
  where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
  LORD Almighty, my King and my God. 

Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
  they are ever praising you...

Better is one day in your courts
  than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
  than dwell in the tents of the wicked. 
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
  the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
  from those whose walk is blameless.
LORD Almighty,
 blessed is the one who trusts in you.

(Psalm 84:1-4 & 10-12)

Today I realized that I don't spend much time worshipping God anymore, not outside the sanctuary anyway. So I decided to use my lunch break to see if the Lord couldn't remind me of what true worship is. I knew I could give myself a seminary answer but I wanted more than academic jargon. I wanted to feel it again. So I turned to the book of Psalms and began perusing. I quickly realised that worshipping God first and foremost means to love Him. Our culture fixates on romantic love. You can hardly listen to a song or watch TV or take in a movie without seeing it, but we don't talk much about being in love with God. I am convinced that true, passionate love for God is the greatest love a person can know. When rightly felt, it is stronger than the love we feel for our spouse, children, or even ourselves. This kind of love is the lifeblood of worship.

Christ Himself commands us to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30). Yet, I don't know many people of whom it could be said that they are truly in love with God. The writer of Psalm 84, however, is head-over-heels, full on silly, in love with God. And people like that are infectious. As I read it, my hand literally covered my mouth at the overwhelming beauty of the love that it describes. It is clear in the opening lines that the psalmist desires to be near God above all else. He even envies the birds who get to nest so closely to the house of the Lord. You will recall that for much of the Old Testament God's Presence literally dwelt in the temple on Zion. For this reason it is right for us to understand this passionate worshipper as not merely wanting to go to church, but desiring to enter into God's very presence. He goes on to say that even working as a doorkeeper in God's presence is better than enjoying the spoils of wickedness.

This is the kind of love for God that I aspire to. I have caught glimpses of this love in others, and maybe occasionally have even experienced it myself. But I long to dwell regularly with this kind of love for God. Lord, stir up this love in our hearts! Speak tenderly to us and return our hearts to their first love (Hosea 2:14 and Revelation 2:4). Grant our hearts a glimpse of Your glory so that we might cling to You and serve You more passionately. 

For further reading...
  • Katie Davis' blog- Katie Davis' writings are one of the places I have glimpsed this kind passionate love for God recently. Check out her post written on January 6, 2012 about something her adopted African daughter did. It will humble you.
  • Psalm 34 & 145- Here are some other Psalms that might get you in the mood to worship.

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