Today is Palm Sunday, the day when Jesus rode into town on a donkey while people waved palm leaves shouting “HOSANNA,” which is an expression of praise similar to saying “hallelujah!.” It got me to thinking about how I was a worship leader for nearly a decade at a few different churches across the western portion of North Carolina. Because of this, I know what it is like to have to get up in front of people and praise God even when the night before, I was balled up like a fist on the floor, beyond tears, moaning from a place of complete despair, repeating these words to God: “Help me!”
I know what it is like to get up in front of people, encourage them to draw close to God, even though I felt like He was more than a million miles away
I know what it is like to have to run to my car after a set because the anxiety of it all came crashing down on me like a heavy cymbal, and I didn’t want anyone to see me have a panic attack.
More times than I can count, did I “lead worship,” when truly all I was doing was playing an instrument, singing songs, and putting on a half-hearted performance.
However, through all of that, I have learned a lot about how to get myself to a place where I can worship God, even when I’m at my lowest.
“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24, ESV)
Every good worship leader has quoted this during their time of worship at some point, but what does it mean?
“Spirit” in Greek (pneuma) and Hebrew(ruach) both mean breath, wind.
Our spirit is the life within our bodies. The Holy Spirit is the breath of God that dwells within us to lead us, comfort us, teach us, and love us. The Holy Spirit is alive in us.
“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:21, ESV)
So if the Spirit is the life within us, we are to worship the Lord with our life by allowing the Holy Spirit to manifest and grow within us which is made evident by the fruits of the Spirit.
But what if our mental state has left feeling like we can’t worship?
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (Romans 8:26, ESV)
THE SPIRIT INTERCEDES ON OUR BEHALF. What an incredible thought. When we can’t pray for ourselves, when we can’t put into words our thought processes, when we are balled up like a fist on the floor, gasping for air, barely able to say words between the gut-wrenching moans that only come from the deepest parts of our being, the Spirit of God mediates on our behalf. He steps in and takes over.
We’re supposed to worship God in truth as well.
Part of this is being honest with God. He knows everything about how we’re feeling, but He wants us to own up to it. I’ve learned from counseling that there is profound healing when you hear yourself say something that you believe. Admit your weakness. Ask for His help. Wait patiently.
Another part of this is remembering the truths about God.
- God is holy
- God is sovereign
- God does not change
- God is love
- God is good
- God is merciful
- God is faithful
- God is gracious
- God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all over the place
Worship has nothing to do with the songs you sing at church on a Sunday morning. That is a great way to offer up praise since songs can say what the mouth has a hard time articulating. Worshiping with other people is encouraging and vibrant.
However, if we’re not worship God with our life by allowing His life to be present within us; if we’re not honest with where we are and vulnerable with God; if we forget who He is, what He has done, and what He said He will do, it’s just noise.
Admit to Him that you need help worshiping Him. Remember who He is. Allow his light to shine into your darkness.
These things are a great reminder to me, especially during this week where we can’t help but remember what the Lord has done for us through Jesus.
I hope you had a good palm Sunday, and that you have a good Monday.
A Sunday well spent brings a week of content – or something like that.