“Wow,” I was thinking. “That was worship.” The more I pondered the evening, the happier I felt.
Both Saturday night services had been at capacity. The choice of material had been perfect. All our top-drawer singers and players had been available. Allen’s guitar grooves had been ear-candy. Ruth and Mitzi had harmonized like angels. Maureen’s other-worldly violin could have soothed Saul’s heart, and Ed’s drums had been the stuff of Psalm 149. Even the sound man did a bang-up job at the board.
Everyone had simply nailed it.
The congregation? They’d sung and shouted and wept and prayed with such abandon that I was sure revival fire had come upon us all!
Pastor Mike’s message from God’s Word had led to an hour of ministry time. Salvations. Re-commitments. Freedom.
“Wow” pretty much summed it up.
The auditorium was now empty and silent, but I was still “buzzing” from the excitement of the past few hours. With all that leftover energy, I straightened a few cables and reset the platform for the Sunday morning team.
Thanking God for a great evening, my curiosity was piqued. I asked Him plainly, “Lord, we had a wonderful time…but what about You? Did You enjoy this evening?”
Listening for the Spirit’s voice, I sat down at the piano and began to play quietly. I was fully confident He would answer, and I believe He did…But not in a way I expected.
My hands found the chords to an old pop song I hadn’t heard in years. My voice awkwardly began to sing unlikely lyrics, and it took me until the chorus to comprehend the gravity of what was on my lips:Tonight, you’re Mine completely You give your love so sweetly Tonight, the light of love is in your eyes But will you love Me tomorrow? Is this a lasting treasure Or just a moments’ pleasure? Can I believe the magic of your sighs? Will you still love Me tomorrow? Tonight, with words unspoken You say that I’m the only One But will My heart be broken When the night meets the morning sun? I’d like to know that your love Is love I can be sure of So tell me now and I won’t ask again, Will you still love me tomorrow?
Several years have passed, but I still sting from that brief encounter with God.
I looked into the emptiness of the sanctuary where hundreds of us had sweetly declared – sung! – our vows to the Lord of Love; we’d promised to be His completely. The joy in those holy moments had been unspeakable.
Yet, I knew the sad reality: Some?…many?…of us would abandon those pledges at the drop of a hat. We’d slip off the engagement ring for the sake of a job, a magazine rack, or even David Letterman.
Given such fickle lovers, God has good reason to ask His worshipers, “will you still love Me tomorrow?”
And as a worship leader, I have good reason to wonder if I’ve encouraged the Bride to engage in a shallow and emotional “fling” with the Bridegroom.Some would seize these thoughts and wave them about as evidence that we must change our worship; I’m more inclined to pray that real worship would instead change us.
I’m reminded of a beautiful song written by Lenny Smith; it’s called “Deep Calls to Deep,” based on Psalm 42:7. Part of the lyrics read: “Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waters; all Your waves and breakers have rolled over me; that’s when I remember, Oh I remember Thee.” (www.newjerusalemmusic.com)
Out of the depths of God’s heart comes a transforming call to the depths of our own. Shallowness is an affront to His precious and authentic passion; our worship should be the response of hearts that have resonated to His deep, rich call.
Put another way, we must never trifle with the great heart of God. The Lover of Our Souls deserves our love tonight and tomorrow and forever.
Phil Christenson is worship pastor at Cedar Hills Evangelical Free Church (CHEF) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He is married to Mitzi, the Beauty Queen, and is father of four great kids. Phil has served as a worship development missionary in the Pacific Northwest and is co-author of two books for Kregal Publishing. You can reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.