Psalm 63 says:
‘O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.’
But what if you read that verse, and there is no longing? No feeling of wanting? Of fainting?
Does that mean you’re broken? Or…’backslidden’? Have you done something to offend God? Or are you just distracted by the things of the world?
Perhaps there is an alternative to these causes for a lack of desire to worship?
I want to share something and I hope that you are encouraged.
For the past 12 months or so, I’ve felt spiritually numb. It’s like I’m in neutral. I don’t feel extreme excitement about my life with God, nor do I feel uninterested. I just feel numb. And it’s not through a lack of desire. I want to have a deeper relationship with my heavenly Father. I want to know the secrets of His heart for me and how he wants me to partner with him in his plans. I want all the things that any other Christian desires.
The difference is that I don’t feel anything. I’ve tried to ‘get into’ his presence. I’ve tried by spending time at the piano, playing whatever comes into my heart to play and letting myself get lost in a moment of expression in an attempt to worship. I’ve tried journalling, soaking to music, soaking without music. I’ve tried reading my Bible, other great writers who inspire and listening to teaching that has in the past inspired me to worship. I’ve even led the church in corporate worship and literally gone through the motions hoping that at some point, my obedience to serve will procure a tangible effect in my heart, mind, body and spirit.
I will admit that there have been a handful of moments where I have felt the presence of God, albeit fleeting, but it’s not been during a time of traditional worship. In fact, it’s been in the most random of times, usually while I am sitting at my desk in my overcrowded-with-books-and-piano-office, working on a brief from a client. Suddenly, a wash of warmth floods my head, my neck and shoulders. I’ve come to recognise this experience as the Lord’s presence and it is a sweet and comforting feeling. But it is sporadic at best.
I know that he’s not gone. I know that he’s not turned his face from me. I know that he’s pleased with my efforts because when I ask, he continues to affirm the direction I have taken. I know that he is pleased with me because his word tells me that he is, regardless of any effort I make.
But when I ask about music, and about worship in general, about anything else than business, I just hear the crickets singing…like in a bad joke situation at a low-end comedy club.
But I know I am hearing his voice. I’m not overly concerned about that.
So why is it that I have quite frankly lost any desire to worship in the way that our culture has come to recognise? And are there others who are also experiencing this phenomenon?
I don’t have answers yet. I’d love to say that I do. ‘Here’s ten thousand steps to help you get out of the rut and get back into feeling like worshipping’. I hate that stuff. It’s all driven by us doing something to fix the so-called problem and insinuates that we must have done something wrong in the first place and it’s up to us to fix it. Not always the case.
Here’s my two cents, for what it’s worth.
What if there isn’t anything wrong?
What if there actually isn’t a problem after all? What if this is simply a season of learning to recognise the presence of God outside of songs, sound and creative expression?
What if…God is just as pleased with you right now whether you raise your hands in worship this morning or not?
What if he’s just as pleased with you regardless if you sing today or sit in your seat with your arms folded?
He says that we can do nothing without the enabling of his Spirit. Perhaps this is a season of learning how to trust that he’ll love me (us) regardless of how we pursue him? Maybe our pursuit is a little unnecessary? Perhaps we might be instead like David, when he says in Psalm 62:1:
‘Truly my soul silently waits for God; from him comes my salvation’
I don’t know about you, but I am tired of being worshipful in my outward demeanour at church. And I don’t mean that we should just come in a surly mood and stay that way. I genuinely want to worship God, just like so many others, but I feel a sense of cultural expectation to outwardly represent my feelings for God in a way that is frankly a little artificial right now.
So if you’re in church today, and you are experiencing something like what I’m going through, let’s stand/sit/lay down/walk around/whatever together and let’s make a pact to worship God in spirit and truth, even if that means we don’t sing or raise our hands.
Let’s make a pact to be genuine in our response. For he alone knows the state of our hearts and if the rest of the congregation are watching you or I to determine if we are in a good place with God or not, shame on them for watching.
To thine own self be true…
Thanks for reading.