He emailed me because he wanted to talk. He was reaching out for a friend who understood his situation, which was this: he was new to his position in a church, and from day one he felt like people were out to get him. We grabbed lunch and talked. He shared with me stories of conversations going on behind his back, meetings held without him, rumors started about him, even a Facebook group created that included everyone but him. I listened and got through most of my lunch before he had eaten much of his, mainly because he just kept pouring his heart out.
After lunch we headed back to the church and grabbed our guitars. We had decided we’d have lunch and then just trade song ideas. He went first, and played a song he had heard recently that moved his heart. Then he played another, and another, and another. They were all new to me. I played one for him. And then he played a couple more. And what I noticed most of all is that the songs he was singing—of adoration, or prayer and petition, or crying out to God—were all sung with the passion of someone who knows he is completely dependent on God in the moment.
I’ve been going through the Psalms in the mornings, and a couple days ago I read Psalm 92. Here are the verses that end the Psalm:
“Can a corrupt throne be allied with you—
one that brings on misery by its decrees?
They band together against the righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.
But the LORD has become my fortress,
and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.
He will repay them for their sins
and destroy them for their wickedness;
the LORD our God will destroy them.”
I’m guessing David felt betrayed. He felt like his enemies were closing in, trying to destroy him. I’m guessing he sang this Psalm with reckless passion and complete authenticity. And I’m guessing my friend sang his songs at the top of his lungs, because it was all he could do to funnel words of praise and petition to God. He recognized the urgency of going to God in worship, and he recognized that above all, he needed God to hear his honest voice. I think that’s what God wants from us in worship. He wants us to bring _____ to Him. Whatever fills in the blank for you, that’s what you should bring in worship, whether it’s fear, freedom, worry, triumph, pain, celebration, failure, joy, or anything in between. The song “Come As You Are” by David Crowder comes to mind, because God wants us to lay down at the altar whatever is at the forefront of our minds and hearts. He wants it out of the way, so we can “fall in His arms.”
Come as you are to worship. And extend that same invitation, in that same spirit, to those around you. As we discuss what it means to share faith with our friends and neighbors this month, remember that everyone is carrying something. The way you listen and receive the burdens of their hearts can show them what it means for you to lay down your burdens to God in worship.