Psalm 26:6-7 (the message)
I scrub my hands with purest soap,
then join hands with the others in the great circle,
dancing around your altar, God,
Singing God-songs at the top of my lungs,
Do you ever, secretly and deep inside, grow tired of towing the party line? Do you ever, in your most quiet and honest moments, wonder why being a Christian seems so hard? Boring? Ineffective? Or fruitless even? Do you ever grow sick of hearing yourself agree with and speak the platitudes knowing they ring hollow in your own soul?
I have been there. And even though it sounds so taboo and risky to acknowledge not having the goods you advertise, reaching this “had it up to here” place changed my life. Here is what I began and continue to discover about myself: I am easily trained. I want to measure up to the expectations of others. I want to make God proud. I want to sound and seem like a ‘good’ Christian. I want to have strong faith and be truly confident in my flavor of doctrine, ready to debate and clarify for those that don’t see eye to eye with me or haven’t reached my spiritual depth. And even though I couldn’t see my spiritual insecurity and the pride that results for the longest time, once I did it was like an aftertaste I couldn’t wait to spit out.
Certainly I loved God and was sincere in many ways. But see, there was so much of “me” in it that I couldn’t see straight. Instead of truly loving on people around me I was more concerned with convincing them. The truth is 1st Corinthians 13 kind of love is the only way people are ever convinced you have the truth. Everything else is that “clanging cymbal” that echos how great and right I am.
I often write about my children. God has used marriage and my children in heaps and bounds to challenge me, change and humble me. Most nights Shannon and I walk the girls upstairs and read a bible story to them (most nights…not every night). Then we start with Leah for prayers and each get a turn. For the past two nights, Leah has started to pray and then abruptly stopped and said “I’m going to sing my prayers.” She then stands up and kind of twirls around and dances a little while she does in fact sing her prayer to God. She thanks Him for the day, she thanks Him for each member of her family (and pauses to kiss our heads!) and recently thanked Him for her new Cinderella costume. Then she says Amen and sits down for Rivers to pray next. This is not really new. Leah has been singing her prayers off and on for a while now. The rest of us close our eyes (though I sneak a peek) and smile as we listen, but for the past two days I keep thinking about what Heaven must be like and Leah singing her prayers. I keep thinking about how for many well-meaning Jesus followers, it would be “disrespectful” to have your child twirl and sing her prayers. I keep thinking how grateful I am God has changed my heart to where I can flow with my four-year-old’s sincere desire to sing to God instead of making her fit a mold of what worship and heartfelt communication with Creator is supposed to look like rather than what it is for her.
The verses above…dancing around your altar, God, singing God-songs at the top of my lungs, telling God-stories…speaks to me of genuine love and worship. Not the kind that feels like an outfit I have to put on…saying and doing and sometimes pretending…but a love that bubbles up from my soul, sets me free to actually be me with Him. I have been altered as a person because I grew sick and tired of trying to make it all fit…my words and growing-up beliefs with my sick at heart soul. Jesus became more real to me the more real I became.
These days my Bible reading and sitting at His feet time is not following the pattern of 6:30 am kitchen table consistency that had grown in my life. Part of me struggles with that. But you know what? I think it may be that same part of me (and I wonder if not most of us) that wants to have a set of rules to go by in how to love and know God. If we have a blueprint we can follow we can feel good about our success (and good about others failures). If we aggressively require our children pray a certain way and conform to the way we do it then we get to feel comfortable. But what if God, in His majestic mercy, sets fire to our blueprint? What if He begins to push and prod us a bit? What if He wants us to reach the end of our rope of good works and efforts and conformity? What if Creator blows the ashes of our “do it this way” Christianity to the Heavens and we are left with only the onion skin pages of His book?
You absolutely have not only His permission but an invitation engraved on a rugged cross to come as you are…worship Him in just the ways He created you to…let go of holding on.
You can whisper…shout…cry…laugh.
You can even twirl and dance while you sing your prayers.