With all that’s been going on, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been fried. Do you wake up every morning and remember what we’re going through all over again? It takes me a while to get in a good place. How do I do it? I know this sounds crazy, but I sing to God. This isn’t why I do it, but living a life of worship makes me feel better.
When I look at the picture of my Dad with me at the top of this post, it reminds me of the way I believe God feels about each one of us.
Since Dad’s accident . . .
It’s been tough.
We still don’t know what happened. Somehow he broke his back and 7 or 8 ribs in more than one place. He’s had bleeding on the brain and in his chest and frostbite. The doctor estimates that he was outside for 6-8 hours.
I don’t know why, but I always wish I knew details when I hear about an accident. So, I’ve been posting what we know. You can click here to see my Facebook posts.
Because I’ve been so fried, I didn’t know if I’d post this week. I started one called, Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen?
But I didn’t have the energy to finish.
Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about a week I spent with a friend when I lived in Jerusalem.
I felt impressed to share.
John came with a peace team.
For two weeks, he went back and forth between Israel and the West Bank visiting people on both sides of the conflict. He went to a Palestinian refugee camp, a Jewish settlement, and a conflict resolution center.
All the while, he tried to understand, come up with answers, and help the people.
Having been through similar experiences, I knew what that was like. The more I’ve learned about the conflict, the more I’ve come to believe that it’s only something God can fix.”
As I walked alongside the Old City wall on my way to meet him, I wondered what he might want to do that afternoon. I rounded the corner and entered Jaffa Gate. There he sat in the cubby hole to the right.
I recognized his ragged look.
I felt his pain.
With no need to ask where we were going, I took him back to Jerusalem University College and made him a cup of tea.
“How do I share this?” he shook his head.
“And what are we called to do as people of faith?”
In the midst of the intensity, the tension, and his experience, he sought meaning. His teary eyes told a story his words struggled to convey as he reminded me of all my own questions.
Each person you meet over there has a different take on the conflict and often has a background of life experiences that speaks into it, highlights different facets.
Each has a role in a bigger picture.
In the most worshipful week, I ever spent . . .
. . . tears flowed freely.
After work the next day, I met John with my friend, Marianne. We ventured through the secret underground water tunnel King Hezekiah built to protect his people from a siege.
John wanted to experience it alone, in the dark. He went ahead then waited for us in the middle.
It was Shabbat. I’d brought pita bread for the Sabbath dinner we’d planned to have at Marianne’s afterward. Standing knee-deep in water, we decided to take communion.
There wasn’t enough room to stand in a circle, so we faced the wall.
Marianne blessed the pita with the Hebrew blessing, “Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha’Olam, Sh’hecheyanu, V’Kiyemanu, V’Higianu LaZman HaZeh.”
In English, it means “Praised are You, the Eternal One our God, Ruler of the Cosmos, who has kept us alive, sustained us and enabled us to reach this moment.”
As we ate, we thought about what Christ had done for us.
Then John said, “Would you sing a song?”
I don’t usually do that.
My parents met in a singing group. Mom carried her first tune at 18 months. I did not, so I usually sing softly.
When John asked it felt like there was something to it. So there in the dark, I raised my voice.
God didn’t seem to mind. In fact, I think He liked it.
That’s how the week went. One person somehow knew what came next and prompted it.
“Do you think each meal can be as sacred as communion?”
I thought about what that might look like as I cut up the rest of the pita with a few cucumbers and tomatoes in Marianne’s rented condo.
As we drank red wine, something came over the room. I’d never experienced anything like it. The air felt heavy. That’s the only way I can describe it. I’m not sure how, but I knew it was God.
I knew God was with us.
As if on cue, the Muslim call to prayer began.
The heaviness in the room thickened as I picked up my Bible and opened it to Psalm 122. As I read, the verses came to life. I understood them in a new way because of what I’d been experiencing in the Holy Land where they were written.
Our own little service continued . . .
Marianne read Psalm 2. It didn’t seem coincidental that I’d just looked at it that morning.
John opened his journal. Marianne dug through her purse and pulled out her anointing oil, asked, “Can we pray for you?”
John nodded. I laid my hands on his shoulders and waited for an inner prompt to know what to say.
“God, do all that You want in and through the sensitivity You’ve given this man.” As I sent on, it felt like I was commissioning him for a new assignment even if we didn’t understand what it was.
Tears blended into prayer. They seemed one and the same.
Then we went out on the roof. We stood a stone’s throw from the Dome of the Rock, the mosque that sits on the Temple Mount.
John closed our time with a poem.
That week I learned how to live a life of worship.
Has it ever looked like that again? I wish.
That’s the thing with God. Living a life of worship looks different every day.
Why was that speaking to me last night?
In the middle of this bleak season, it reminded of three things:
- In times of struggle
- When we don’t know what to pray
- Tears reach God’s heart
As we move through this together, but so very much apart, we can find peace in the circumstances when we worship.
What does living a life of worship look like?
It looks like being real with God. The one who’s always with us can take it.
So feel free to unload. Get everything off your chest. Then ask for help. After I do that, really good ideas often bubble up inside me.
God always comes through. It just doesn’t usually look like I expect.
Living a life of worship can be as simple as cranking up the music and singing at the top of your lungs even if God’s the only one who appreciates that.
You should see my dog. He jumps 3 feet into the air as he barks. He likes to worship, too.
So, here’s a key. Something shifts when you soak in God music.
If all this seems a bit weird, I get it.
Because that’s what I used to think, too.
I didn’t know if I wanted what I’ve got, this relationship with God.
In fact, I knew I didn’t.
So, if that’s where you are, welcome! Your wonderings, your questions, and your thoughts are all welcome. Thank you for joining us.
And can I tell you something? God’s way cooler than anyone ever told me.
If a little bit of peace sounds good, click here and let the music wash over you. Try living a life of worship, even just for a minute, and see what you think.
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