I can remember it like it was yesterday. My friends and I were at a Women’s conference and we were so excited for the worship service going on later that evening. We caught up with some fellow conference goers in the elevator and they told us to “get ready”, that this worship service was like no other and will definitely usher us right into the presence of God. So my first reaction was like okay they are probably over exaggerating, “let’s just see if it’s all that”. We get into the service and the band is playing all of my favorites, “Good Good Father”, “Spirit Break Out”, “Oceans” and so many more. I’m enjoying myself, praising the Lord and clapping but I got this “feeling” that I was not quite doing enough. The Holy Spirit gently nudged me to “go deeper”. So I began to sway side to side, clap a little harder, sing a little louder, I really was not sure what “go deeper” meant so I just did what I knew to do. Then I heard Him say “if you really want to show your love for me, fall on your knees”. I must admit that my immediate reaction was “uh God no, with all of these people around? That’s just what I do when it’s you and I”. So I made my futile attempts at ignoring the Holy Spirit until I was overwhelmed with His presence and could not help but to bow down. In that moment something broke on the inside of me, the chains of people bondage and the thought of what people would think if I became undone came crashing down all in that one moment. I felt so free and I did not concern myself with what was happening around me, it was just God and I. The scripture 2 Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”, literally came to life.
So I want to dive into what kept me from immediately adhering to the Holy Spirit a year ago at that conference and what had stopped me from being a free worshipper for years before this experience.
- Disobedience– I second guessed that I had really heard from the Lord. I chalked it up to a “feeling” at first and kept with “church as usual”. Then I heard the Holy Spirit clearly tell me to go deeper and I did not want to do so. I was so afraid of losing control and what people would think if I went “all the way in” and was free in the presence of the Lord, which brings me to my next point.
- People Bondage– I am naturally a very controlled personal, hyper rational and not a fan of public displays of intense emotion. In church I always had this underlying feeling of vulnerability and exposure because I would begin to feel the need to shred my semblance of rationality and “put togetherness” and cry uncontrollable or lift my hands, or sing loudly, or fall on my knees, or whatever the Lord was leading me to do but I just could not allow anyone to see me in that light. What would my family, friends, or even worse, strangers think of me? Would they think I was going through something or that I was “doing too much”? I was definitely not heeding the words of Paul in Galatians 1:10 when he says “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Even though I was not necessarily trying to please people, I was not trying to make them possibly feel uncomfortable or feel embarrassed, and sure was not being a true servant of Christ because I was not being authentic in my praise.
- Dissociation from the song lyrics and who you are singing to – I don’t know about you but sometimes I would hear a worship song but I would not really be listening to it. I would know the words and sing them but there was something missing. There is a difference between mindlessly singing the lyrics to a song about God and singing the lyrics of a song to God. You must understand that you are in fact singing the praises to Him as Psalm 96:1-2 states “Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day”.
What I experienced after submitting to God and truly getting free in worship:
- True connection through reflection– Once I allowed myself to hone in on the lyrics and think about what the song writer was actually trying to convey it caused me to reflect on my own personal relationship with God. For instance one of my favorite songs by Todd Galberth “Lord You Are Good”, was just sang by my church during praise and worship and it broke me all the way down! I began to put myself in the song and reflect on the times where all hell was breaking out in my life but I still was able to lift my hands and say “Lord You are good, You’ve been so good, Lord, You are good, You’ve been better than good”. I felt so connected to God in that moment, like He was right there with me because my heart, mind, and my mouth were aligned. I wasn’t merely singing, I was singing to Him and flashing back to all the times He has indeed “been better than good to me”, which leads me to my next point.
- Overwhelming gratitude– Once I truly began to reflect on all God has done, my heart was bursting with overwhelming gratefulness. I began to give thanks to the Lord simply because of His goodness (1 Chronicles 16:34) and not based on any specific external circumstances. Giving thanks and showing gratitude is a main theme throughout the Word and is very pleasing to God especially when done at all times despite what your current circumstances may look like.
- Boldness- I distinctly remember worshipping with a boldness that I did not have prior to the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart. I was able to stand proudly with my hands lifted, to kneel when I felt led, and to break into spontaneous prayer and or praise. I was no longer concerned with those around me. In fact, I remember feeling invincible (lol) after the conference. I asked my friends to circle up right in the middle of the airport to pray for our safe return home. It did not matter who was looking because it was about what I believed the Holy Spirit was leading me to and I was determined to follow.
So enough about me! How about you, are you able to be your authentic self during worship? Would you define yourself as a true worshipper? Why or why not? If you don’t feel like a free worshipper, I encourage you to try worshipping in the confines of your own home because what you practice there will spill over into cooperate worship. Put on some of your favorite worship songs, some of mine are “Lord You Are Good” by Todd Galberth, Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong United, O Come to the Altar by Elevation Worship, Grateful by Hezekiah Walker, “I love You Jesus” by Lamar Cambpell and Spirit of Praise, and so many more. Listen to the words, meditate on them, and allow yourself to let go in whichever way the Spirit is leading you!
Well until next time, whatever you do, do it ALL for the glory of God.