be real (honest worship)…

[Sometimes my heart is so full and moving so fast and so deep that my mind can’t keep up with it. With great difficulty I try to communicate what seems noncommunicable. I could spend days, even weeks trying to find the best words, and try to lay them down in the finest and richest ways… and end up writing nothing at all. My heart is in such a place right now. In fact, I don’t think I’m going to be able to communicate what’s flowing through me in one little blog. Indeed, I’m afraid I won’t be able to get it out in a smooth running stream. But then I remember that I am not necessarily trying to write smoothly, creatively, with great wit or eloquence. I’m trying to communicate, as best I can, what I am learning “along the way” on this journey, in hopes to enlighten, inspire, encourage and embolden. How that happens is up to God; my ‘job’ is to simply write it down. So, with that in mind….]

Psalm 73:1ff, of Asaph
Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.
They are free from common human burdens;
they are not plagued by human ills.
Therefore pride is their necklace;
they clothe themselves with violence.
From their callous hearts comes iniquity;
their evil imaginations have no limits.
They scoff, and speak with malice;
with arrogance they threaten oppression.
Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
and their tongues take possession of the earth.
Therefore their people turn to them
and drink up waters in abundance.
They say, “How would God know?
Does the Most High know anything?”
This is what the wicked are like—
always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.
Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
and have washed my hands in innocence.
All day long I have been afflicted,
and every morning brings new punishments.
If I had spoken out like that,
I would have betrayed your children.
When I tried to understand all this,
it troubled me deeply…
till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood…

I recently read an entry on Facebook by a worship song writer expressing the necessity of being honest before God about where we find ourselves sometimes . There is A LOT I’d like to say on this, but let me say that I agree wholeheartedly with this.1 In my very sincere attempts to be honorable and respectful to the Great I Am, I am afraid that I had also become dishonest. That is, I’ve often tried to “put on a good face” before the world of “having it all together” when in actuality it was all falling apart, and then had the unmitigated gall to try to pull that off before God! “Ahem! Excuse me, son, but God can see what’s really in your heart; why not just tell Him.

As was his wont the psalmist Asaph bears his soul and pours out his heart before God in confusion and unrest (Psalm 73) about the way things are, and in particular, the way things are not right. “Why do the wicked prosper and the faithful perish!?” He’s so torn up by it that he wonders ‘why live uprightly at all?’ (vv13,14) And the more he tries to “wrap his brain around” this, the worse off he becomes; “When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply” (v.16). (I like the way it’s rendered in the KJV even better: “When I thought to understand this, it was too painful for me.”) Don’t pretend you haven’t “been there, done that.” When life is perplexing and doesn’t make sense, when the wicked prosper and the innocent suffer, when catastrophe strikes and leaves us reeling, inevitably the question will arise, “why, God, why!?”

We’d be in a pretty sad state of affairs if we were left here; but God has not left us. And more times than not, in His infinite wisdom, mercy and love, He does not offer immediate and direct answers to our inquiry. He instead reveals Himself- His nature, His character, His quality, His Person2, and then He offers us the opportunity to trust Him in the midst of, and often in spite of, all the noise, confusion, accusation and trouble swirling around us. It is from there we can find real faith to stand and ‘see the salvation of the Lord.’

But it often starts from a place of honesty, of vulnerability. “Lord, I believe; help me with my unbelief”– my doubt, and fear and anxiety. Father God is not disturbed by this. In fact, I believe that He is waiting for us to come to this place of honesty so we can genuinely put our trust in Him and not in changing circumstances, which He can orchestrate, but may not necessarily do, at least not in the way or time frame we’d like to see it.

So how does this happen? How can we get to this disposition? Where does this happen?

When I tried to understand all this,
it troubled me deeply-

till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood… (vv.16,17)

Perspective changes within the Presence of God, or in the knowledge of God. When I speak of “the knowledge of God” I am referring to both the intellectual foundation based on Biblical truth, and also to the experiential foundation based on an actual relationship with God. Out of these can come a heart-felt faith, where we can find a settled peace in the midst of life by our walking with God, and God walking with us.3 Interestingly enough, it was when the psalmist “entered the sanctuary of God,” or, when he encountered God in worship- that’s when understanding came; not necessarily the resolution of the situation, but something much deeper and more profound.

I would like to come back to this and speak more directly of how worship allows us to move from confusion and despair to faith and trust in the Sovereign God who loves us. In particular I want to focus on how songs of genuine and honest worship help in that transition, and how they can provide an anchor of trust when we feel as though life is falling apart. (I told you I had a lot of stuff running through my heart and mind!)

See you soon, along the way!

End-notes:
1. I may refer to this writing in another blog entry.
2. If memory serves me correctly, God never revealed to Job why he had suffered so much, but God did reveal Himself.
3. I touch on this in a little more depth in my blog entry “remembering ‘Who’…,” addressing why knowing God is the foundation to trust.

About Lem Dees

Singer, song writer, worship leader... father, granddad... Lover of, beloved of, Jesus.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Encouragement, Faith, Music, Personal, theology, Uncategorized, worship and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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