by Chantel Waltz
We can carry around a lot of things that can hinder our worship. Self-condemnation, sorrow, fear… I feel like we hear a lot about these things. Today I want to talk about something that isn't really talked about a lot. I want to talk about anger.
Last Sunday morning, I walked into the church sanctuary as the lights began to dim. The band came out as I found my place in my row. I'd had a hard week, but I was glad to be in the house of God. I wanted to lay it all down and worship the Lord. Our first song was 'This is Amazing Grace' by Phil Wickham, and I had just really started to enter in to worship. My heart began to engage with the lyrics, which recount many of the wonderful promises of God, as I sang to Him. Things were going great, until we got to a particular promise in one line of the song that says "Who makes the orphan a son and daughter." And I froze. I started to feel a heaviness in my chest. And then the tears started.
You see, we have been pursuing an international adoption from Africa for four, very long years. 2 years ago, we actually had a referral to a little girl in Tanzania. We had her picture up on our fridge, and our family was really excited to bring her home, and in my heart she was my daughter. But because of some political issues we lost our referral, and we lost her. It was very painful, but we still felt called to adopt. Soon after that we started the process all over again, this time in the African country of Guinea. We have been waiting on a referral for a 12 month old little girl, who has been chosen for our family, but recently found out that there are some serious complications with THIS adoption as we found out our adoption agency will be closing permanently.
I've spent a lot of time talking to God about our adoption process, declaring victory and begging God to intervene. We really felt like God told us to pursue this, and believe He promised us a little girl from Africa. But this has been such a long, difficult journey.
Sometimes I do great, I'm filled with expectation and strength to keep waiting and trusting God. But there have also been seasons when all I can do is cope, and I just force myself to not think about it. Then there are the times when all just feels really hopeless. It hurts. It doesn't seem fair, for us OR these orphaned children.
Here's some of the awful thoughts that I wrestle with in those darker moments. “If God REALLY does give mom's and dad's to orphans, then what about the little girl we almost brought home from Tanzania? She's still stuck in an orphanage. What about the baby girl in Guinea? Are You going to take her away too? What about my feelings, my husband's feelings and my 3 bio kids? Why am I being punished when I'm trying to do something GOOD? And spending a lot of time, energy and money to do so?”
The most painful part is that I KNOW God could change all this right now. He is sovereign. He could have stopped it. At any point He could have made it right for all of us. But He didn't. And right then, in that darkened church sanctuary, I realized that I was really angry at God.
Nothing shuts down a relationship like anger. For all the married folks, have you ever tried showing affection to your spouse while you were angry at them? Have you ever tried honestly blessing them, or harder still, giving your whole heart to them in intimacy? You can't do it! Not for real! You can fake it. You can go through the motions, but truly, anger is a nemesis of heart intimacy. The worst of it is, anger is that it doesn't just "go away." You can push it back, try not to thing about it, but in that moment when you try to make a heart connection with someone, it comes right back up. To move forward in relationship, any relationship, the anger has to be recognized and called out for what it is. It has to be dealt with.
We all know anger is bad, but anger at God seems particularly bad somehow, doesn't it? I mean, He's God, right? He knows everything, who are we to question His judgment? Just ask Job, who got an earful of holy lecture when He dared to question God's judgments. This is Christianity 101! But the truth is, God knows the anger is there anyway, and He wants all of us, the good bad and ugly.
The worst thing we can do in our relationship with Him is to try to hide ourselves from Him. It stops our trust, stops our ability to be intimate with Him. He asks us to not hold anything back. To give Him our whole hearts, however sinful, and to let Him create in us a clean heart.
In that moment at church, I knew I couldn't keep singing to God as if nothing was wrong. It would have been fake. I knew I needed to deal with my anger at the Lord. And, as embarrassing as it was for me (cause, shouldn't I know better by now?), I confessed anger at God to Him as sin. But I also recognized that He wasn't angry or disappointed at me for being angry at Him. God, Himself is SLOW to anger. He knows our hearts, He understands our pain AND our imperfect love. I gave Him my emotion of anger. Then I told my own soul, my own emotions, to line up with the truth of my good and loving God. I told my spirit to rise up within me. I cried as I affirmed that my family, myself and both of these little baby girls, are perfectly taken care of by my Father. I affirmed that His ways are not my ways, and I relinquished the right to understand.
I started to feel lighter, like a guard around my heart was falling off. Worship was still going, and now the song was 'Do it Again.' by Elevation Band. "I've seen you move the mountains, and I believe I'll see you do it again, You made a way when there was no way, and I believe I'll see you do it again”. I looked up at that projection screen and literally forced myself to begin to sing out these words, through tears I felt His peace come over me. I started shouting the words, and the Lord began to remind me of all the times He came through for me. The many, many times and situations that He has helped me, provided for me, saved me, fulfilled His promises, miraculously healed me. And I began to praise Him for those times and for the times to come. I allowed my faith to rise up again over our adoption.
Hey, maybe you have some really tough stuff going on in your life right now, and you're reading this and realizing that you are angry at God. That it's keeping you from being truly intimate with Him. There's good news for you! He's just waiting for you to come to him, with all your stuff, and pour out your heart to Him. He longs to reassure you of His love, like He did for me last Sunday, so come to Him. Be real about what's going on, He understands! Submit your whole self, even your emotion of anger, to Him. Call your faith to rise up, even if it's just a mustard seed. Remind yourself of how He has come through in the past, how He's proven His goodness over and over again, and then worship Him for who He is, what He's done, and what He's going to do!
by Tracy Manno
“Worship!” Reading or hearing someone say the word worship can invoke a number of responses in each of us. Depending on our upbringings and life experiences we each have our own personal take on what worship means, how we define it, and varying emotions and imagery it conjures. From thoughts of performing ceremonial religious acts and memories of fragrant incense, to rousing our feet to stomp and hands to lift high in praise with cymbals, horns and guitars, there is no shortage of opinion on the subject.
The point of our “Rediscovering Worship” blog series, and really the point of His Way Worship at heart is to set a tone where we can start to set aside our finite ideas on “how” God wants to be worshipped, and explore the endless ocean that is ours in worshipping the Lord Jesus.
Let’s start by just ripping the band aid off and saying worship, in its primary form, is not a musical concept at all. Think of music as a vehicle for our worship to travel in. We get in a car, airplane or boat that provides us transportation to someplace we otherwise couldn’t have gone. Music is a place that we can enter into so we can tangibly express deep longings to the Father from within our souls. The lyrics we sing connect the truths of who God is with our own living spirit. The music we play allow us to physically interact with that connection by playing instruments, tapping feet, lifting hands, singing voices. We “enter into worship”, individually or together, through the medium of music.
Music is such a powerful and universal vehicle for us to worship in I believe, in part, because we are created in the likeness of Christ. We create music using the very likeness of Himself, and we naturally connect with this likeness at the untouchable place it was created… deep within our souls.
Worship is where our spirit and soul collaborate and agree together that Christ is above all and in all. When sin came into the human DNA our eternal connection with God’s spirit was severed. We needed a savior to revive, restore, and bring new spirit life back to us. Through the process of salvation God gives us His own Spirit, and once again our soul can connect eternally with God, and in our worship we agree with Christ, that He is Lord of our lives.
Romans 12:1 tells us that this is our spiritual act of worship… the sacrifice of our lives to Jesus for His purposes.
This is why worship at its core is not about music. It’s a heart condition. Worship happens as a lifestyle, in the mundane, messy, broken, painful, joyful journey of our daily lives. We find our worship in the surrender of every moment as we agree with His Spirit that He is worthy of it all. In this way our very lives become the ultimate vehicle for our expression of true worship. We allow God to play us as His instrument, freely giving Him every moment, every circumstance to the obedience of serving our beautiful Creator.
Let the symphony play on Lord Jesus!