The Epiphany of Joy, Chapter 6: Joy in Worship (2 of 3)
I walked with my face pointed toward the sky and my head stuck in the clouds, barely glancing at the road, hardly checking to see if the dogs were still attached to my wrist on the other ends of their leashes. The old hymn “I Surrender All” played over and over in my mind, accompanying me in a continuous loop as I walked in rapture and awe of God’s glory. The flashlight was useless that morning; I walked by faith rather than by sight. The immensity of God’s creation increased the awesomeness of my reality, expanding my view of the unbounded vastness of the universe by the arm of an immense galaxy. I could feel God’s presence, palpable, real, alive. I walked in peace, I walked fully loved, I walked aware of His Spirit. I walked as a speck of dust surrounded by God’s infiniteness. How could a God that created all of this take the time for me? I wondered. But He does. He does! A great horned owl called out a lonely hoot, hope cast into the darkness, waiting for a reply. A bullfrog harrumphed its own hope across the pond yawning in the pre-dawn stillness. I looked up into that depthless spiral of a billion stars and asked “God, teach me how to worship You.”
“This is how,” He replied in my heart. “This is how.”
To worship God is to express the deepest desires of our being for the Being who created us. To worship God is to express the deepest respect and reverence for Him, to focus our being on Him with awe, to live for Him, to praise Him because He is who He is: the Great I AM. “True worship is the acknowledgement of God and all His power and glory in everything we do,” wrote S. Michael Houdmann at GotQuestions.org (http://www.gotquestions.org/true-worship.html#ixzz2oJ1I1kO3). “Worship is to glorify and exalt God–to show our loyalty and admiration to our Father.” God breathed life into our spirit, soul, and body, and worshipping Him is the natural outflow of our desire to make Him our focus. God made us to worship. God created us to glorify Him.
The apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will–to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves” (Ephesians 1:4-6 NIV, emphasis mine). And through the prophet Isaiah, God told the Hebrews, “’Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made’” (Isaiah 43:6b,7 NIV, emphasis mine). Indeed, in the first of the Ten Commandments God handed to Moses on Mount Sanai, He commanded the Israelites to worship only Him: “’I am the Lord your God . . . . You shall have no other gods before me’” (Exodus 20:2,3 NIV). Our purpose in life is to worship God; He, in response, opens the door to unlimited and everlasting joy; we give Him glory, He gives us pleasure in worshiping Him. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,” Jesus said, “and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33 NIV).
One of my favorite Bible passages illustrating this truth is contained in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 10. As Jesus and His disciples traveled to Jerusalem for the last time before Jesus’ death, they stopped at the home of Jesus’ friends Mary and Martha. There, while Martha busied herself preparing and serving the meal to a house filled with guests, her sister did absolutely nothing to help her. Instead, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, a position of reverence and respect–of worship–and listened to Him. Finally Martha had had enough of her sister’s seeming disregard for her and their duties as hosts: “’Lord,’” she said to Jesus, “’do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me’” (Luke 10:40 NAB). I can imagine Martha, cheeks covered with flour, blowing a strand of hair out of her face and pointing at Mary with a wooden spoon, exasperated.
But Jesus refused Martha’s request. Instead, He replied “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her’” (Luke 10: 41-42 NAB). Mary had found her true joy while Martha had relinquished her joy to the distractions, expectations, and assumptions of busyness. I can relate.
Copyright © 2014 David C Hughes