Tonight my church reinstated a tradition we used to hold: Sunday night worship services. For now, they will only be the first Sunday of each month, but to have regained it at all makes me so happy. A night of pure praise and worship, allowing the Holy Spirit to move freely a mong us however He wishes for as long as He wishes. I didn’t realize how much I had missed it.
Before we began, my pastor read a passage his son suggested for the evening.
I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord ; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord , and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
I spent most of the evening reading and rereading those verses and some surrounding it.
Shame has been a recurring theme in my heart. Whether for something that was actually shameful or something I needlessly beat myself up over, there has often been this lingering spirit of shame ready to intimidate me. So when I find a song or a scripture passage that negates shame, it immediately stands out and touches my heart.
I’m nearing my college graduation, and the closer it gets, the more I wonder what on earth I’m doing. Am I ready to join the working world? Will I find a job? Will it be the right job? Will I do well in whatever job I may or may not get? Will I be able to reach my goals? Are my goals even the right ones?
Will the now unfolding events give me a reason to be ashamed in the future? For taking too many risks? For not taking enough?
Tonight, the Lord reached out in these verses and gave me a wake-up call, or more a reminder: it’s not about me……
“He delivered me from all of my fears.”
God has a plan for my life. He has a dream, a perfect will for me, and even though His blessings have often followed me even in my wanderings, there’s one path that He wants me to walk. One present He can’t wait for me to open, because it’s the one He picked out especially for me.
Even with everything that’s happened in the last year, with all the mistakes I’ve made, with all the setbacks I’ve had, with all the uncertainty, He’s sitting there in the driveway waiting for me to hop into the car and join Him on the road trip He has mapped out.
“I’m in if you are,” He says.
So I did a little digging during service, and this is what I found. Join me in loving these parallels
Psalm 34:5 NIV
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
Hebrews 12:2 NIV
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:5a NIV
And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son?
Revelation 2:4-5 NIVa
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.
This gave me pause. What did I do at first during the early days of my salvation? I love lists, so I made one. But something was amiss…..
I spent time in prayer.
I read my Bible a lot.
I went to church as often as possible.
I listened to Christian music a lot.
I sang a lot of worship songs.
I stopped committing sins X, Y, & Z.
The problem is that this list, while full of good things, is just a collection of results. WHY did I do them? What was my motivation? What was it that got me to do them then?
Before I did any of them, I first LOVED Christ, so I LOOKED for and at Him, and then I LOVED what I saw, so I kept LOOKING. I gave Him my attention naturally because I had already given Him my heart.
So what about now? Is He suddenly a chore? An obligation? A routine? An extracurricular activity? If so, when, how and why did that happen? The problem with so many of us is that we lose our spark for Jesus. We get caught up in doing that we forget about just being.
Christianity is a marriage. When a marriage starts to lose stream, many times it’s because the spouses are busy trying to do– to provide, to clean, to save, to fix, to raise, to increase, to plan ahead– that they lose sight of just being wives and husbands, of being in love, of being friends.
We discover our identities and purposes, our divine destinies, by BEING with God. We can only achieve that if we love Him and focus on Him. I am my best me when He is my first thought. You are your best self when He is your best friend.
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears….”