Pastor Jermin writes:
This was originally written in 2005, to a sister who attended one of the two churches that I was then serving as Worship Leader, but it is worth sharing, as the truths contained are without an expiration date… (there are some edits to the original letter, for privacy sake, and reflecting the more accurate view of Worship that I have now, nearly a decade later)
A friend wrote me a letter sharing her difficulty Worshiping God.
It was confounding her mentally, frustrating her emotionally, and debilitating her Spiritually.
This is what the Lord gave me for her. I pray that it blesses you:
My dear Sister,I think, though I am not sure, that I replied to this already, if I did, consider this part 2, but in case I did not, please forgive my delay.
I appreciate your honesty and vulnerability. I know that it took a lot. I commend you and thank you. Your openness allows me, as a Worship leader, that much more insight into some of the difficulties that people face in the attempt to, and pursuit of, Worship. There are, for me, difficulties inherent with this position. I find that many times I get frustrated, not necessarily with the people per se, but because I get a glimpse of God’s amazing love and I would love it if all of us could experience that fellowship with Him.
The Bible instructs us to seek Him, pursue Him, to press into His presence. Indeed the Word is true:
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. – Psalms 16:11
In the 2 ministries that I serve these days, there is a vast dichotomy. At one, most (75%) of the people come in, ready to Worship, anxious to enjoy the presence of God. About 15% need some coaxing, and the other 10%, for whatever reason, just don’t get it. At the other, the numbers are reversed, in that 70% of the people that attend don’t Worship, 15% do, and the others waver in between. I knew that there were several reasons for this.
a- Culture,(it amazes me that Africans (West Indians) can be so unexpressive)
b- Not being saved, (You can’t Worship a God you don’t know or Love)
c- Lack of understanding (not being taught properly),
d- Fear of others, (People’s opinions matter a LOT in church unfortunately)
e- Fear of the unknown, (What will happen to me if I give in to the Spirit of the Lord?).
But now, having read your email, I can add another reason. For me, it (Worship) is an act of the will. It was not part of my church experience growing up, (Staunch, staid, tight, West Indian Methodist) and I have had to unlearn most of the behaviors that I picked up in church in order to be free to Worship.
Sometimes I don’t ‘feel it’, there are times when I do not have an emotional experience, but I have learned that this is not the gauge. My emotions are seldom evidence of the truth, (a fact that God keeps reminding me of).
I desire God’s presence, and I know that it’s the best place in the Universe to be, so: I must be like the woman with the issue of blood, and press my way towards He who can make me whole. I must be Like Isaiah, and get into the presence of the one who lets me see the reality of my situation. (Isaiah 6) I must be like the woman with the alabaster box, and bring the best, and most precious thing that I have (my innermost SELF), to He who bought me with His own blood. After all, the only activity that takes place both here and in Heaven is Worship. Might as well get as much practice as I can now.
You said: “I, like scores of others, enjoy close proximity to the Lord. I liked to stay a safe distance away….. Closeness, intimacy can make people like me feel extremely vulnerable and unsafe. It takes time for the Lord to break down some walls before true worship can happen and that in itself is extraordinarily unsettling.“
This is, for you, decision time. The Lord doesn’t have to break down the walls, beloved. You do. The way has already been made:
And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; – Matthew 27:51 There are a couple of things at work here, I believe; Your comments speak to them. They are fear and pride. Those are the children that are keeping you away, and like Achan (Joshua 6, and 7) they must be killed..
As for the fear part, the Scripture says:And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. – Matthew 11:12
There are people that moved Jesus emotionally, people whose desperation gave them a boldness, a tenacity and persistence that brought them success.
The Syrophoenecian woman: Mark 7:26-30
The man with palsy whose friends lowered him through the roof: Mark 2:1-12
The Woman with the issue of blood: Luke 8:43-48
Theirs is the kind of boldness that we must employ today. Even more so, in fact, because Jesus is not physically here in front of us. It takes, for us, that much more faith, but there is that much more blessing. Just like he said to Thomas:
Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. – John 20:29
We must Press into the presence of God. Our Worship gives him joy, our prayers are the incense around the throne, and when He gets joy, we get Strength! The presence of God is the goal, beloved, and Worship is the key.. That’s where the healing is, that’s where the peace is, that’s where the power is. Don’t allow yourself or your family to be robbed any longer, dear sister. Press in, past your fears, conventions, cautions, intellect (a big wall for me), hurts, history.
Press in past all of the mess to the throne, there is much waiting or you there. Do not be afraid of what you’ll see or whom you’ll meet, even if it’s you. God has a habit of showing us ourselves when we get into His presence, and it’s all for our Good. Isaiah describes it as being ‘undone’. To me it’s kind of like a sweater unraveling. All of the stuff that we build up to convince ourselves and others of our piety, righteousness, goodness, wholeness, etc. gets stripped away, row by painstakingly knitted row, until we are laid bare in His presence.
It is daunting, it is scary, it is intimidating, but the road to your purpose and Destiny passes right through the throne of Grace, and the only way to get there is through Worship! Once we are laid bare before Him, He cleans us up, and gives us our assignment, and sends us forth! (Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 3)Yes I’m preaching! (LOL) The Kingdom is yours, child. Claim it!
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness (a condition of the Spirit), and peace ( a condition of the body & mind), and joy in the Holy Ghost, ( a condition of the soul) . – Romans 14:17
As to the pride thing: (And please understand, that I am speaking not from a point of judgment, but from Experience):
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. –James 4:6-8
Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me?- Exodus 10:3
The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. – Psalms 34:18
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. – Psalms 51:17
For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. – Isaiah 57:15
I would never have thought that the Lord would use me in the ways that He has seen fit to of late, but it is all because I finally said: ‘You know what Lord? I’m gonna obey.’ It was difficult in that it meant giving up certain relationships (which were tied to the lifestyle I was giving up). It was risky (especially giving up the band in that there was an important financial component there), but more than anything else, I want God. I want Him, and not just His hand, but His face. Deep down, you do too. The issue is, what ballast are you willing to throw out of the balloon to go higher? It’s entirely up to you.
I love you