Monthly Archives: September 2011
Something remarkable happened in church last Sunday—somebody worshipped with reckless abandon. I think the song was “Forever God is Faithful,” or some song that speaks about the faithfulness of God. It happened in a large church that meets in a college gymnasium. The music was loud and the congregation was getting into it when a couple rows behind me a young man began to shout “God you are faithful, you are so faithful to me” during the chorus. I don’t mean he was simply singing a little louder than those nearby. No, he was shouting as loud as his vocal chords could go without distortion. This affected nearly the entire congregation, including the pastor up on the stage. It made our hearts leap. Even the pastor said he felt the Holy Spirit moving in the building. Maybe those shouts were the right thing to do at just that specific time; I don’t know. In other words I don’t know if every worship service can be so blessed. But I really appreciate that young man’s boldness in worship. I wish I could let go with passion like that. Of course not every worship session should be loud and passionate. There are times for a softer, more reflective worship. But we in the church, even with all our technology and modern music accoutrements, often worship halfheartedly. I sometimes think genuine worship should be exhilarating and exhausting. Still, I worry too much about what people will think of my singing or whether they’ll think I’m nuts if I do anything other than stand and sing. Truth is there will always be someone who’s offended or uncomfortable when worship extends beyond the bounds of what’s “acceptable.” Certainly I don’t want to make people uncomfortable, but I wonder if we are missing something by holding back. Trust me I don’t want worship and church to be only about intense touch-feely emotion. My heart simply yearns for real connection with God, not just an outpouring of my emotions. No, I want my spirit to dance with God’s spirit. Is that asking too much?
The older we get, if we obtain any wisdom, we grow increasingly wary of offering advice. That said, I’m going to venture a hazard and offer young folk a precious, painfully earned, dainty of wisdom. If you are just starting out in life—maybe you just got married or you are entering college—focus very little on acquiring possessions and more on freedom from the grind. Why? Because unless you are blessed with enough maturity and tenacity to work in a field you were born for, you will likely reach middle age (55 and up) and experience and urgent change in priorities. Things become less important. I have a house (and a garage) full of crap I could care less about. What I crave more than anything at this toilsome stage of life is—time! Oh I don’t mean a longer life (though that would be nice). I mean time to do what I want, or feel called to do, rather than performing the duties of an employer fulfilling a different mission from my own. Yes, time is more precious than status, position, a mcmansion, a second home in Hawaii, or a net worth in the seven figure stratosphere. Forget about BMW’s, boats, Harleys, ATV’s, or snowmobiles. Focus on achieving early retirement or building a successful business to the point where you can leave it in capable hands while you pursue your passions. Don’t think you’ll just squeeze in the things you want to do. The truth is your energy will fade and the little remaining will be consumed trying to keep doing your job at peak performance. Yep, time is king for people of a certain age, and everybody gets there. Shun debt whenever possible. Pay off your home early. If you must work for wages, make sure you work for a flexible employer. Do whatever it takes to position yourself to take advantage of time in middle age. So there it is: you can’t say nobody warned you!
There’s a hip, sort of melancholy, song called “Lost In My Mind” that I listen to now and then. The song feels like therapy in a way. Of course you’d probably like a peek into my addled psyche to understand why. Not a chance! The point is that even sappy sad songs can lift our spirits. Thank God for music and the joy it bestows. And yet many of us often discover that joy, other than ephemeral joy, is elusive because we don’t always perceive our purpose, place, calling, raison d’être, as clearly revealed to us by God. That’s me! Oh don’t feel sorry for me (OK you can send some flowers if you like); I’m simply searching for the truth. Yes, yes, I know the struggles and disappointments to finding joy via purpose are just byproducts of what Christianity calls our fallen world. Don’t get me wrong, there have been times when I felt God touch my life and point me in the right direction. And God can be experienced in other ways, as well. I just returned from four days at Lake Tahoe, California, and let me tell you the greatness of God was clearly evident in the granite mountains surrounding the Lake; granite that took eons to sculpt by the slow grinding pressure of ancient glaciers on enormous mountains populating heights where the air is thin (God is extreeeemely patient, unlike me). But on a personal level, I’ve often heard it said in the church that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Well, with more than two score years under my belt, I’m still waiting to see what the main plan looks like. I know that sounds a bit negative, but it’s honest. The tedium of life can discourage the most stout-hearted soul as the years drag by while it appears God has forgotten us. I envy folks who have the hand of God clearly on their lives, directing them and using them in astounding ways. They often seem full of joy, energy, and a positive spirit. They accomplish extraordinary things. But what about the rest of us, are we doomed to a life without God opening doors or using our skills and passions to help advance his mission? I don’t know! Even I doubt now and then. I occasionally wonder is God real. But anyhow, based on what I’ve read in the Bible and observed in the church, it seems like God’s love and design often work just under the surface as we trudge through the days of our lives (is that soap opera still on TV?). King David was used by God at an early age. Moses was used by God later in life. But they both had a season of preparation when they likely didn’t think much would happen as orchestrated by God. Of course they were selected for leadership. So what about the rest of us, the worker bees? Where do we fit in? Does God really have a plan for each person’s life? I hope so. I hope God uses us even when it doesn’t feel like God is using us. Before uniting with Christ, or at least before taking him seriously, we chase the proverbial pot of gold. After taking him seriously, many of us chase the blessing of knowing his plan for our life. I hope he’s pleased by that desire to be used by him. I hope he has something special for each person, not just a select few, to accomplish in his service. Yep, hope is a wonderful thing.