She couldn’t quite find the words she wanted at first, maybe she wondered if she should even be saying them, or thinking them, but eventually, with a half shrug of apology, my granddaughter asked “I mean, why is God, like, you know… so… I mean, maybe I’ve got it wrong, but it seems like he.. you know, always wanting praise and stuff, and all that… I mean, what I keep wondering is…”
“Just say it, Nance.”
“Nana, I keep wondering, why is God so needy? Why does he want us to praise him all the time and worship him and tell him how great he is?”
That was a few months ago and I can’t remember how I answered but I remembered Nancy’s question today because this morning, walking on the beach, I was filled – absolutely taken over – by a desire to worship. The desire was immense. It stunned me, this overwhelming impulse and craving to see, know, hear, honour, serve, praise and love God. Amazing God. Too amazing for me to get my tiny mind around. ‘Amazing’ a stupid over-used and mis-used word, all my words ineffectual and weak and stupid. But the word ‘worship’ still holds meaning. I craved to worship. Honestly! Me. There on the beach, on an ordinary summer’s day, with no warning at all, it was as if I was drowning in desire, lungs filling not with oxygen but with longing. I needed, absolutely needed, to worship.
Flip me. That was a bit of a surprise. Where did that come from? I sat on the rocks for a while, knowing that there is nothing I can offer God but everything. He wants everything and yet he wants nothing. He wants everything of me but, oxymoronic, that ‘everything’ must be my nothingness. Not me but him. By the ‘eck, it’s a puzzle, my friends. A right riddle and conundrum, beyond me, but not beyond him.
I started to smile because it reminded me of a strange saying we have in Derbyshire… if someone asks “I’ve run out of milk – could you spare some?” then the strange answer might be “Of course – we’re short of nothing we’ve got!” It’s a Derby way of saying “We have enough to spare and share.” I thought about that, and I thought yes, I don’t know how to wrap my head around the idea of worship, or what to make of this strange sudden compulsion, but God has enough understanding to spare and share.
Where did it come from, this strange overwhelming longing? And why today? And I mean, come onnnnn….. what? Lord, what? I mean, WHAT? I was walking with a friend, and we were flitting in and out of a desultory, relaxed conversation, so why now? Right now, like this? So that every other thought melts away and I can’t string two words together. Just when I look out at the sea and thank you for the day we have – BAM! WHAM! Alaka – Hang on, Nat King Cole sang it, and if I fiddle with the words just a tiny bit…
I was walking along minding my business
When worship came and hit me in the eye
Flash, bam, alakazam!
Out of a bright blue crystal colored,
Pretty white cloud dotted sky
Flash, bam, alakazam and I’m just wondering ‘why?’
Worship. What do you want me to do with this word, Lord?
My Pastor said once that when we feel we have a word from God we should ask for confirmation. So I did. I said something like, mumbling and stumbling, ” I feel like a drug addict desperate for a fix, Lord. Longing with every breath and every beat of my heart, so that my pulse seems to whisper over and over again ‘worship worship worship’. That’s totally weird and not something I decided on. So if this is from you, will you let me know? And if it isn’t, will you let me know that too? If I’m just wallowing in some sort of emotional flux, that’s not good. But if this longing is from you, then it can be only good.”
My thoughts raced in and flooded out. I was unsettled by the ferocity of this need. The word ‘worship’ was taking me over. I knew that there was one person who I had to share it with. I knew this for certain. Just that one word.
I came home knowing that I couldn’t empty my mind and turn it over to God until the stuff of the day was clear. I sent an email to the person I had to share the word ‘worship’ with, and then settled down to my petty chores, to clear the clutter from my mind before giving every other minute of the day to him. Now then, here’s the thing: last night, just before bed, I was sent an email to send out to the whole church. It’s nothing heavy, a loving greeting to a woman’s group, but there were photos attached and interwoven with the text and it was a document that had been scanned so I knew I would have to fiddle with it to put it in an email. I couldn’t do it justice at that time of night so I left it to this morning.
When I came back from the beach I opened it and began to cut and paste and play around… and do you know what it was about? It was about LONGING. The email ended with “The more we feast on God the more of him we want. And his riches are inexhaustible.“
That sent me back to a blog I write last week, quoting Mark 4:24, the words of Jesus, ” according to the depth of your longing to understand, much more will be added to you. For those who listen with open hearts will receive more revelation.“
Now I know how to answer Nancy’s question. Our loving God demands worship because when we worship we lose ourselves and discover him, we find joy and truth, we draw nearer to being the people we were created to be. We find a Godly ecstasy, not the mindless ungoverned elation of drugs or booze or some other fleeting happiness, but a deep peaceful ecstasy of rightness with God. Acknowledging him, knowing ourselves, seeing eternity, being drawn ever deeper. His Spirit reaches out to meet our longing. “Deep calls unto deep.” Psalm 42:7 When we worship we grow.
God wants our worship because he wants the very best for us.
Here’s my revised answer to your question, Nancy: There is true lasting joy in worship. We don’t worship to make God feel good. We worship to fulfil the purpose for which we were made, union and peace and joy with God. Deep deep joy. When we live in Christ and he in us, everything we do, or think, or say, is worship. This funny old blog, is worship. It’s clumsy worship, and sometimes silly, but it’s worship. Written in love.
Today is worship.