Here’s something I’ve learned about worship. It’s not just singing in church. Or it shouldn’t be. It has many facets and takes many forms. It includes every artistic expression. Every selfless act. Every act of obedience to God, especially when it is hard to obey.
Worship is spiritual warfare. In the Old Testament when God sent his people into battle the worshippers went out first. They were literally in front of the front line. That is where the Spirit of God dwelled and found victory – in the worship of his people.
This is not a rant about how today’s church has turned worship into entertainment. Some definitely have, but not all. It’s inaccurate to paint every modern worship experience with the same brush of judgment. I can tell you from experience that although my church may be defined as a mega church, worship is taken very seriously. Leading Gods people to His throne in corporate worship is serious business to us. It takes a great deal of preparation, prayer, and guidance from the Holy Spirit. I am grateful to be lead into worship by just that kind of creative lead team.
I can also tell you from experience how worship healed my heart and changed my life. How I learned to put on the armour of God. And how the belt of truth – the truth I found in worship – made all the difference in my victory over the enemy.
My life was in shambles. My marriage was broken. I’m talking smashed, obliterated, nothing but wreckage kind of broken. I tried crying out to God but all I could manage was the crying part. I tried reading scripture. The words turned to dust and fell off the page. I lost my song. Completely gone. Couldn’t even hum, let alone sing along with the congregation at church. The church didn’t know what to do with me.
I resigned from every ministry where I served. Slowly friends pulled away from me in case whatever broke my marriage was contagious. I don’t resent them for that. The conservative church of 1996 had no resources or training to cope with my situation. I begged God for reconciliation with my husband, but I believed it was unlikely to happen. I knew I needed God if I was going to move forward in my life as a single mom and co-parent.
I turned to the armour that had been slowly discarded over time.
It was dusty and ill fitting. It seemed like a lot to put on. Way too much. I didn’t have the energy to deal with all those pieces all at once. God understood and had mercy on me. He handed me the belt of truth and said “Why don’t you try this first?” I discovered worship music.
I had been raised on the great hymns of the faith. They are called great because that is exactly what they are. Filled with the deep and rich truths of the faith. But my heart was no longer connecting. I needed something new. Something fresh. Something that validated my pain even as it turned me toward the healer. Worship music was like a spring rain to the parched desert of my heart.
I made a mix tape. (Wow – I guess I really am that old!) One side was “I’m having a bad day”, the other “I’m having a really bad day”. While the little ones napped each day after lunch I would put on whatever side best described me in that moment. I would sit at the kitchen table, listen to the music, and cry. I wanted so desperately for those truths to be my foundation again, but I all I could feel was soul-crushing pain. I didn’t feel like praising. I saw nothing praise-worthy about my existence. And I was very angry with God for my situation. But somewhere in the recesses of my heart I knew my feelings didn’t nullify the truth.
I couldn’t read, I couldn’t pray, I definitely couldn’t sing. But I could silently mouth the words to the songs. After a few weeks of this I was crying less and humming a little.
It was a very long journey back to finding my song again. I had unconditional love and support from two dear friends who will always be my heart sisters. I had brilliant personal and marital therapy provided by a truly gifted therapist. God healed me. God healed my husband. God healed our marriage. Know what a healed marriage looks like? Work. Lots of work. Lots of sometimes hard but mostly pretty fun work.
I discovered how to put on the rest of my armour. You can find the list in Ephesians chapter 6. Check it out. It’s pretty empowering. Now that we both have all our armour on, our marriage is much more difficult for the enemy to attack.
But it didn’t happen quickly. It didn’t happen easily. We had to be patient and consistently obedient to Gods way of doing marriage. We had to wait for God to restore and refit our armour. It was worth the work and the wait. It still is.
My point? God didn’t wait for me to have it all together and be strong and not struggle with my faith anymore before He began healing me. He let me start with the smallest piece of armour.
Everyone has a story. I don’t know yours. But I do know about a belt that would look amazing on you.