Glimpsing the Glory with Awe
Last Sunday I really wanted to go to church. I've been ill for more than a month and unable to attend worship. I was looking for something like the television service I'd seen recently where the black pastor spoke of God with such evident, reverent respect that I was lifted up and encouraged. It was the kind of thing we gain when we don't forsake the gathering together of the saints. I turned on the radio, hoping to hear something that would draw me into God's presence and fill the empty places within.
The radio service I heard opened at a place with no prayer, no call to worship. Instead, distracting sound I'd call electronic non-music droned behind opening comments to the congregation. Someone was telling the churchgoers to remember that they are the family of God. They should give greetings, embrace others across the aisle. Then they were instructed to all turn facing back, when told to. Turn. Turn. Turn. Part of the exercise was to raise their arms to remind them that Jesus would meet their needs. At that point I turned off the radio with a sad disappointment and longing.
Where I was hoping to find overt reverence for God and appreciation for His person, instead what I heard seemed so very people-centered. The church does need to minister to those in the body. But we, the body, owe our respect and worship to God as first priority.
That afternoon, I sat in my recliner, feeling comfort in my body for the first time in a long while. In the background, classic hymns wafted quietly, sung by a wonderfully disciplined choir. Then, in my mind's eye, I was a teenager again, playing some of the pipe organ selections coming from the CD player. My tired, yearning spirit began to revive. I was transported, in the familiarity of that music, to years and years of worship I had participated in and enjoyed from the time I was a young child.
I sat for a long while, just lifting my mind up to God, glimpsing, in my spirit, His glory and basking in the awe of His being. He is perfect love and justice in perfect balance. He is every good thing we long for in those we commune with.
I thought about the morning's radio service. Why had the encouragement of fellowship seemed forced to me? Then I realized that the true love bond among believers arises spontaneously at times. Those are moments of recognition of another person's love for God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. A bond is forged. It grows as we hear the words and testimony of someone who has seen the goodness of God's person. There is kinship, called by some The Fellowship of the Burning Heart, in those obedient to God who fervently desire to follow Him wholeheartedly.
After what must have been a couple of hours had slipped by, I read devotions and the Bible. I was uplifted and strengthened. I wondered: is worthy worship of God sometimes in being very quiet before Him, communing in silence with no distraction? There are times to toil, as in times of prayer. There are times to work, as in witnessing and service. There are times to sing loudly and joyfully. But there are times to worship quietly, with no struggle or effort. There is no need to work oneself up into a frenzy of worship or of seeking power. Thank God for quiet times, alone, when we draw into His presence with adoration and enjoy being with Him.
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