Trinket or Treasure

As the final chorus of the praise package ended, the pastor ascended the platform to begin the Sunday morning sermon. As he bounded the up steps, he broke into a joyous rendition of the popular hymn, “What a Day That Will Be!” The congregation joined in and with one voice began to lift up this glorious expression of hope.

The worship center was filled with people lost in this precious assurance. Some were lifting their hands to heaven in a sacrifice of worship; others were shedding tears of adoration as they longed for that future moment of Christ’s revelation; and some were simply going through the motions of worship without ever truly entering into intimacy with the Master.

Across the crowd, the blinding light of the Father’s hand drew back the curtain of the crowd to reveal a single portrait of passionate unrestrained jubilance as the congregation sang, “No more sickness, no pain…” It was as though a spotlight from heaven was cast upon a young man sitting in a wheelchair against the back wall of the cavernous room. A huge smile filled his face as he sang with all his might. Lifting his arms in an unrestrained embrace of praise, he battled the temporal effects of cerebral palsy to gain the victorious grasp of God’s eternal heart. Filled with a voracious passionate hunger to touch God and be touched by God, this young man simply would not allow life’s circumstances to stand in his way. He was seeking the object of his heart’s desire in a dance with his Savior, who at the same time was seeking the heart of a true worshipper. In that moment of dazzling light, the Seeker and the sought met and embraced as the angelic praise of heaven dimmed in comparison. Time stood still as the presence of God rested on him – as his heart melted into His heart – as the dance of two became entangled in one in the simple yet dramatic act of true worship.

As I watched in wonder and amazement, God spoke clearly into my spirit a profound principle of worship: Every worshipper bears both the awesome privilege and extreme responsibility of choosing whether he or she will wear the mask of religious motion or sing with abandon the melodious anthem of the marriage relationship. If one exchanges the priceless treasures of relationship for the worthless trinkets of religion because of laziness or distraction, the Father will not open the door for the intimacy of His presence. If the door never opens, the heart never finds satisfaction. Passionless frustration rather than intimate satisfaction describes much of what is regularly called worship. Why would the God, who calls Himself a “Consuming Fire,” be drawn to a fuel that stubbornly refuses to burn in the fiery heat His majestic presence?

Julian of Norwich (1342-1416), an English mystic who spent most of her life in voluntary seclusion seeking the intimate embrace of God put it very simply in this prayer: “God, of your goodness give me yourself, for you are enough for me, and I can ask for nothing which is less which can pay you full worship. And if I ask anything which is less, always I am in want, but only in you do I have everything.”