May 25, 2010
When Worship Makes No Sense
"Christian brothers, I ask you from my heart to give your bodies to God because of His loving-kindness to us.
Let your bodies be a living and holy gift given to God. He is pleased with this kind of gift.
This is the true worship that you should give Him." Romans 12:1 (New Life Bible)
The book of Romans stumps me. It doesn't make sense. Honestly.
It was written during the hardest part of Paul's life, a time when he was in jail and he had done nothing wrong. He wrote when the church people who once applauded him now plotted to kill him or waited in the streets, tearing their cloaks in rage because they couldn't stone him.
It puzzles me because it is filled with sayings like "nothing can separate me from God's love," and "my brothers, consider it all joy when you encounter trials." It is a book of hope, of joy, and of life. Yet Paul wrote it from such a place of darkness.
Paul was a real person, not a superhero. What did he discover during those hard times that prompted such rich writings? I think the treasure is found in today's key verse, Romans 12:1. He was a worshipper. I know he sang songs because Scripture shows him singing at the top of his lungs when he was in jail. I don't think, however, that Paul is limiting this to a hymn. It became a way of life. In spite of the dark places, he looked toward the Light, and there he found joy.
Ten years ago a drunk driver slammed into my son. I stood in the church several days after the wreck. I had a bag packed in my car, prepared to go back to my son as soon as service was over. I was weary. I felt helpless. I had come to church only because my husband made me.
"Babe, you have to have a break," he said, promising to stay by Ryan's side.
My son was in pain and had months ahead to heal. The drunk driver had passed away, leaving behind only an underinsured policy that left us with piles of hospital bills and debt.
I grieved for my son. I grieved for the drunk driver's family. I grieved for the loss of normalcy. I grieved--period.
All I knew to do was to raise my hands and lift my face. Tears washed down my cheeks. I wasn't praising God because of my darkness, but because He was the only Light I knew to reach for. "God, I don't know what the future holds. I don't know how we are going to make it. But I know You."
It was both a physical act - raising my hands - and an act of the heart. I climbed into my Abba Father's arms and wept out of gratefulness. I danced on the inside though there were no dancing shoes in sight.
I thought Romans confuses you, Suz.
That's what I love about it best. In the natural it makes no sense, but supernaturally I totally get it. Darkness holds no power when I hold on to the Light. How can I help but worship Him when I discover that immense truth?
Dear Father, I pray for my sister who feels discouraged, overwhelmed, or lost. I worship You, for You are our Light in the darkness. You see her and rejoice in her faith, even faith as small as a mustard seed but large enough when placed in Your hands.
The Woman I Am Becoming by T. Suzanne Eller
Making It Real: Whose Faith Is It Anyway by T. Suzanne Eller
Six Habits of Highly Effective Christians by Brian T. Anderson and Glynnis Whitwer and Brain Anderson
Visit Suzie's blog where she shares how to pray when you have no words.
It's not wrong to acknowledge the darkness. It's there. It's tangible.
It's also not wrong to open the door, to flip the light switch to on, to open the shades and let the light come in.
Paul paints it as a physical act. It's overriding feelings to step into truth.
It is a gift to God, but ultimately it is a gift to you, also, as the Light blankets the darkness.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. ~ Reverend Martin Luther King
Romans 8:35, "Who can keep us away from the love of Christ? Can trouble or problems? Can suffering wrong from others or no food? Can it be because of no clothes or because of danger or war?" (NLB)
Romans 8:37-39, "But we have power over all these things through Jesus Who loves us so much. For I know that nothing can keep us from the love of God. Death cannot! Life cannot! Angels cannot! Leaders cannot! Any other power cannot! Hard things now or in the future cannot! The world above or the world below cannot! Any other living thing cannot keep us away from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord." (NLB)
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