Who is our worship for? Seems like a silly question, huh. Of course, it is God! But is it really?
How many times have you been in church during worship and just not "felt it". How many times have you thought, "I just don't like this song" and tuned out or changed the radio station? The question I've started asking myself is, does it really matter if I like the song or not? All that really matters is if God is enjoying the worship of His people, right? It is easy to loose sight of that though. Worship is for God, not for us.
I bring this up because tonight I was at our local house of prayer and something happened to drive this point home. We had an hour of worship and then a speaker. She mentioned a story about someone coming up to her at a conference worried that they were going to offend her. You see they had not liked the style of worship the night before and the woman wanted to tell her but was worried that she would be offended. Joni's response was, "Oh that! I'm not offended. It's not big deal, because the worship was for God not you."
Joni's story about this really hit home for me because although I love worship, I find it difficult for me to focus on God at times. You see I'm very self conscience when I'm around others during worship. I don't have a very good voice (in fact when singing in the car I turn up the radio loud enough so I can't hear myself!) I'm always worried about disturbing others with my voice. I know God enjoys all of our worship, regardless of our singing ability, but it is hard to remember that at times.
Tonight though my doubts came regarding the raising of my hands. You see I'm also self conscience about that. I'm afraid I'm going to stand out and people are going to stare at me or something. I know deep down if they are truely worshiping God (which is what I'm supposed to be doing) they won't even notice me (or my voice or my hands!) because their focus is on God. What was really funny about tonight though is that everyone there had their hands up. So really I stood out more by not putting my hands up! But that little voice the enemy has planted in my head was telling me I was not sincere and would be just doing it to fit in. If I raised my hands everyone would know I was a "fake".
So I started praying and God immediately revealed to me how I was allowing the enemy to put the focus on me instead of on God. Boy, did that humble me! In addition, God told me my problem was not that I was not focusing on Him so much as it was I was not willing to surrender to him. You see, I don't think raising hands to God in worship is weird. In fact I think it is beautiful. I love to see people totally abandoned to God in worship, raising their faces and hands to heaven in praise. I imagine that is what David looked like when he danced through the streets and sang the Psalms he wrote. That is what Miriam looked like when she danced and sang to the Lord when the Israelites were delivered out of Egypt. But the enemy has planted lies in my head about me doing those things. That however is a whole other issue I could write about for months.
In the end, God told me I needed to surrender to Him. To not be afraid to give up control (because to be honest, I'm not really the one in control anyway.) At one point tonight I was able to do that and without even realizing it I raised my hand to the Lord and truely worshiped. Now that is not to say that I have it all figured out now. It did not last for the rest of the worship time. At one point those lies of the enemy raised their voice again and I lowered my hands and my focus went back to me. But I did get a taste of surrendering to God and it was beautiful! Now that I've experienced it I can strive for that next time. Each time it will get easier to disregard those voices in my head and to surrender to and focus on God instead of me.
The other amazing thing that happened though is the picture I received. You see, I'm a visual person and the Lord often speaks to me by giving me pictures. I wish I could paint because they are so beautiful. Tonight for that period of time I surrendered to God and truely worshiped Him, He gave me a picture. Actually it was more of a video, I guess.
As I stood there with my eyes closed and my hand raised (yes, it was only one this time!) I felt a breeze blow across those assembled there in worship. In my mind I could see all of us there with our hands and faces raised to heaven and could feel the Holy Spirit amoung us in that breeze. It was like a mighty but gentle wind. Then above our hands I saw Jesus dancing. He was weaving in and out between our upraised arms with his head thrown back in joyous laughter and his arms out. He was dancing and basking in our praises of worship and love. What an awesome picture.
So my question to you (and myself from now on) is when you worship, who is your worship for? Are you focused on God or are you focused on you? Do you see Jesus dancing around you in joy, basking in your praises? I know I don't nearly as often as I want to.