Thursday, March 17, 2011

Inward battle [during worship]

This has a different feel from my usual blog post. It's not just about Africa....it's relevant across continents. So, read on...

By being completely honest and vulnerable with my next statement, I hope some of you who also struggle with it can breathe a sigh of relief and know you’re not alone! Lately, I have found myself VERY DISTRACTED in the very place where I should be completely consumed with the Lord: worship during church services.

People are perhaps one of the main things I'm distracted by! I’m very people-oriented, and I love people-watching. Always have, always will! So combine my personality with the fact that (in my church here in Uganda), many people arrive quite late—even when we’re 45 minutes into the worship. So if I’m not careful, I find myself looking around at all the interesting people….thinking “Have I met her before? She looks familiar….” or “aw, that child is all alone. I wonder if he’s a street boy.” or “oh no she didn’t—does she know she’s in CHURCH wearing THAT?” [I don’t want a petty, judgmental attitude anywhere—especially church. Yet, sometimes the thoughts sneak in :( ]

So then, as the scenario usually goes, I realize my thoughts are wandering when I should be WORSHIPPING. Feeling guilty, I silently scold myself, and I close my eyes to block out distractions.

But during the next song, my mind is flooded with other things….

*My future.

*What I’m going to eat for lunch after service.

*ugh, not this song again....I wish we sang more hymns!

*Men.

*That new book I want to read.

*Oh, I have to remember to tell my friend [insert name] about such and such.

*I wonder which pastor is preaching today.

None of those are BAD things to think about, in and of themselves! But I am truly annoyed with how easy it is for me to be distracted during worship.

I want to enter His presence and be consumed with His love, forgetting what and who is around me. Why does that seem nearly impossible when I’m standing in a room full of people?

I don’t know. But as I sit here, typing….I know I’m guilty of putting too much emphasis on myself and also on the music itself. Maybe I need to make time to meditate on scripture (and pray) before I get to church….If you have any thoughts, please share them here. Maybe ways that you try to block out distractions during worship?

I just read an INCREDIBLE article from Christianity Today that has changed my thinking regarding the act of worship. Take a few minutes to read it….the first half is a bit slow-moving, so I’m giving you permission to skip ahead to the “Reversing Field” section. click here to read it. <------

The article makes a great point that many Christians think that worship ORIGINATES with US. That worship moves from earth to heaven. But really, it’s the opposite:

The trajectory of heavenly worship begins with God and descends to earth.”

When we are standing in church singing to the Lord, we are part of a MUCH bigger picture….a much bigger chorus! We are so small. It’s not about us. We are joining with those in heaven as we worship our Creator. What a privilege!

The author of the article says it beautifully (after I read this, I called my roommate over and read it to her. All we could say was “WOW! I’ve never really thought about that before!)

"A day will come when our conflict and mutual discomfort over the church's worship will end. Until then we must muddle through the best we can by reminding ourselves that we are part of a much larger congregation—one populated by patriarchs and prophets, saints and angels, where we are invited to join a chorus that began on the first day of creation. The first notes were sounded by those who surround the throne in heaven. Their theme echoes through the rest of God's domain. All that remains is for us to add our voices to their song."

worship1

worship2

Can’t have a post without a picture! Worshipping with people from other nations is a small glimpse of heaven! It was a blessing to watch our Children of the World choir kids praise their Savior while singing their little hearts out. (I can’t remember who took these photos...this was 2 years ago!)

2 comments:

Gregory said...

Amen Ashley! Don't focus so much on what you do wrong during the service. Focus on God nudging you and reminding you to pay attention! He does the same thing to me when my mind wanders. Anyway, I'd love to talk, but I gave up Facebook for Lent, so we must find a time to Skype! Email me: gajacksonmu@gmail.com

God bless,
Greg

Joe Loves Kim said...

Ashley, always good to hear your struggles, victories, and view on life. We certainly miss you and your never-ending smile. I often ask the LORD why He has given me such a brain that can wander so quickly and be so scattered. No doubt, He has given it to us for a reason; we may never understand, but nonetheless we pursue and endure, awaiting our glorious hope of eternity!! Cheers!