I simply can’t sit on my hands to worship or want an at-a-distance relationship with God.I have no criticism or judgment of people who feel comfortable in very traditional liturgical churches – and I do in fact come from a “Call to Worship, Responsive Reading, first-third-and-fifth verses of traditional hymns” faith background, but my deepening intimacy with Jesus puts such a passionate desire to connect with Him into my worship that I can’t sit down to sing or fold my hands in my lap. Out of town at a conference this morning, I attended a congregation of the denomination I grew up in. As familiar as it all was, and as wonderful as the people are, I couldn’t ignore the tugging in my heart to really receive from God in a powerfully personal way.
I cannot keep God at a distance, and I hope God isn’t comfortable with that kind of relationship with me, either. It hit me at a second service I attended today in a Full Gospel church, cut loose to get real and a bit wild with Jesus: I WANT a God who “gets in my face” and “messes with my business.” How else can I be changed, challenged to grow, transformed into the ME God created me to be and the ME I desperately want to be if He doesn’t get intimately involved in my life? Intimacy is messy and boundary-crossing and comfort-zone rattling. Frankly, I pray that the Lover of my soul loves me enough to not WANT me to remain less than the best and greatest I’m meant and created to be. I’ve touched the relentless longing and heard the passionate beat of God’s heart for me. Oh, to be loved by a jealous God who desires a vibrant relationship with me!
“Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear. Forget your people and your father’s house. The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.” Psalm 45:10-11
“Oh LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when i rise;you perceive my thoughts from afar . . . you are familiar with all my ways. . . You hem me in behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” Psalm 139; 1-5
And why would I want to? This is the God who spilled his own blood in agony to secure my relationship with Him forever! Early last Sunday morning I was sitting wrapped in a comforter in a chair in the loft of my older son’s house, leaning into the dim light to read the Bible in my morning quiet time. Suddenly my six-year-old granddaughter crept up, crawled under the comforter with me, took my small travel Bible in her hands and began reading from Psalm 27: “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple, for in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his ta . .. .” She stumbled with the word, and I guessed “Tabernacle?”
“Yes,”Elsa replied. “Tabernacle.”
“Do you know what a tabernacle is?” I mused.
She did. “It’s the place where God lived.”
“The tent where the people worshipped Him in the desert,” I added.
“And,” she went on, not missing a beat, “I learned in chapel that it’s like God’s wings. God’s wings are soft and strong.” Those beautiful blue eyes looked up into mine and she snuggled closer.
“Hey Elsa, do you remember the shawl that you and Evan and I hid under the last time I was here?” I asked. And what she said next so sincerely, innocently, frankly, took my breath away, the Word of God out of the mouth of a child: “Yes, and those knots on your shawl are so tight that nobody could untie them.”
The knots, representing every promise God made to His people, extended to us: so tightly promised that no way will God ever “untie” them!
“Hey, Elsa, you’re right, God is tight with us! You and I are ‘tight.’ ” I drew her closer in a fun wiggling hug. “Do you know what it means to be ‘tight’ with someone?” She shook her head, and I whispered,”It means nothing can ever come between our love.”
Why on earth would I want to keep a “respectful” emotional and liturgical distance from the God who wants to be so “tight” with me that His promises will NEVER fail: he’ll NEVER untie them!
So this morning I figuratively leaped into the lap of the King of Kings, held His hands and danced a little Salsa with him (Wasn’t that exactly what we were singing?) and invited Him – heck, implored Him – to be”tight” with me, get in my face and mess with my business as much as He wants to and needs to, even when it’s uncomfortable like the ways He’s causing me to recognize and face my fear and impatience and submission issues, to grow me into everything He wants in me, for me, and through me.
So fair warning: even if I’m holding a hymnal and standing still next to you to respect the traditions in your worship . . . I’ll be dancing on the inside. A little Salsa on Sunday is a very good thing, so mess with me, Holy Spirit!
A “. . . BUT . . .” to move: Oh, God, really I’d like to hide my issues of ____________________________ from You, BUT deeper still I don’t want to be held back and crippled by ______________________, made less than the best You want for me. So I give you permission to get in my face and mess with my ____________________________________.