March 28, 2023
The World as Worship
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy (Psalm 96:12 NIV).
Friend to Friend
In the year of COVID-19, like so much of the world, our church shut down.
I understood why it had to happen—we were in a pandemic, after all—but I missed it. The preaching and teaching, fellowship, communion, but most of all, I missed the worship. I missed standing shoulder to shoulder with others and lifting my hands and my heart in praise. I missed that intimacy with God, even among hundreds of other people.
As with every other situation in 2020, it was a time to get creative. Like other believers, we worshiped from our living rooms, sitting on the couch, our dog and cat cuddled into our makeshift pew.
It was good. But it wasn’t the same. And I, not knowing how to fix it, withdrew from worship. If it wasn’t going to be how I needed it to be, I would just skip it.
I began to realize a deep truth about myself: I was relying too much on the band, worship pastor, lights, and the production. If something was missing from my worship, it wasn’t the church, it was me. I had allowed my life to become too noisy, and to break through that noise, I needed my worship to be equally as noisy. I relied on God and a bunch of singers on stage to get me to a place of worship. And that wasn’t their job. It was mine.
That year was a time for me to get quiet and figure out my responsibility as a worshiper.
When regular worship has been taken away, your heart seeks out new ways to worship. Taking a walk through our forest, I noticed that when there is wind, not only do trees make a delightful rustling sound, but the breeze goes through them in such a way that they actually lightly sing. I’d heard the wind howl before, but I never thought of the trees singing.
How amazing is it that God designed the trees so they would sing? Psalm 96:12 (NIV) says, “Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.” Every time I hear it, I think about how God has designed things I didn’t even notice until the second half of my life. That there are still new ways to worship God even when my traditional, easy ways have been stripped from me.
Worship doesn’t stop with my ears. As we drive these roads around our mountain, we are surrounded by over forty wineries in our area. Previously I only had one vision of what wineries look like: vines heavy-laden with purple and white grapes. Just like every movie I’ve ever seen. But during our weekly trips to town, I’ve had ample time to notice the changing seasons of the vineyards.
In winter, fields and vineyards are at their bleakest. Everything on the vine has died, the grass is brown, and the best thing about the drive is not the sights, but the smells of the heaping burn piles (which, by the way, is one of the top three smells ever, competing with fresh coffee and Krispy Kreme donuts when the fresh sign is on).
But wait through all the seasons, and you get to fall. Fall on the mountain is a worship experience all its own. It’s impossible to look at the vineyards and not thank God that you get to be a human who gets to see the miracle that is the riotous colors of the fields.
Is it worship for a grape to go through a life cycle? I guess if the rocks can cry out, a grape, living its life, can also be worship. But my noticing and thanking God for the life cycle of that grape? That is, indeed, worship.
As I write this, we are still not meeting as a church body, in person. But we will, someday soon. And I will rejoice. But I will also be, in a way, guarding my worship when I get back to the church building. I will celebrate getting to see the people I love, but I will no longer rely on them to be the bridge to the One whom I love. That is not their job; it is not their burden. That is too much to entrust another human with.
God has given me an abundance of opportunities to worship Him. I just need to quiet the noise and pay attention to what He has already provided.
Dear Lord, thank You for creating unsurpassed beauty. I worship You joyfully as the fields and trees do. You are worthy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Take a minute and study something in nature. The tree outside your window. The plant on your back porch. The dog lying next to you. What does God say to you through them? Click on the comment button and share with us.
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