I stood in the worship service, hands lifted as music filled me. Emotions swirled in those moments: love for the God who first loved me, gratitude for both life and eternal life through Jesus, a sense of awe at the presence of the Holy Spirit. The speakers rattled just a bit as the volume of the music rose, my thoughts were lost in the chords and phrases. Worship is a sacred place for us to return our focus and our affections to our Savior.
The pastor took the mic and prompted us to pray. I whispered just loud enough for my own ears to hear. “God, help me… Lord, change me… Father, transform me…” I snapped my head up and dropped my arms. In the time it took to move from the bridge of the song to the final chorus, I shifted the focus of my worship from God to myself. While my prayers weren’t wrong, they were audible evidence that my worship was all about me.
Do you find it difficult to keep your thoughts about God about Him? Or, like me, do you begin to consider what the power of God can do for you?
This selfish worship is more the rule than the exception for me. I find it difficult to focus on the greatness of God without moving into a thought pattern leading straight to my own greatness. My pride flourishes in these moments of misdirected worship. My raised hand becomes a “pick me, pick me!” cry for attention.
Pick me to receive Your power. Pick me to be your messenger. Pick me to be great among Your witnesses.
I compare my self-centered response to the holiness and greatness of God to that of Isaiah. Isaiah saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and lifted up. The angels stood on stage with a microphone in one hand, and the other hand raised high to the King of kings. Their song echoed through time and space, every note pitch perfect.
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.
Isaiah 6:3, ESV
Standing on trembling ground with smoke covering his view, Isaiah drops his pride and posture to respond. “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:5, ESV).
When confronted with the holiness of God in worship, how can I have any response other than repentance? How dare I stand with arms raised trying to catch God’s attention.
God sees Isaiah in this low position, lips blistered from the cleansing (see Isa. 6:6-7). God, who extended the grace of forgiveness, now extends the mercy of a calling. He invites Isaiah to go to the people on behalf of the Trinity. Only after the calling does Isaiah volunteer himself for attention. “Here I am! Send me” (Isa. 6:8, ESV).
When the focus of our worship is the favor we can receive, it becomes self-worship. When our praise turns to pleas for attention, our gaze shifts from the Lord to our lives. However, when we consider the holiness of God and acknowledge our humanity, He is glorified. We are then open to receive the cleansing touch of the burning coal. We are made ready for the call to go.
Lord, I am a woman of unclean lips and an unclean heart. After a glimpse of your glory, I tend to turn my praise inward. Forgive me for my pride. Forgive me for my tainted worship. Hold my gaze firmly on You. I lift my hands to you in surrender and in awe. It’s all about You, Jesus. It’s all about You.
Find more thoughts on worship on Suzie Eller’s #livefree link up.