Worship in a vibrant Christian community was not anything new to me. I grew up in a church that had powerful worship experiences. I started leading worship when I was 15 years old. I always had a passion and a love for worship but when I was 17 years old I had an experience that changed everything for me.
I was at a conference that had extremely powerful worship. I was standing right in front of the platform. One of the worship leaders was a young woman close in age to me who was cute, passionate in worship and had a beautiful voice. For a young single Christian man, that was a huge catch.
I was standing right in front of her during the worship time singing songs to Jesus and about Jesus but found myself gazing at her. My attention was clearly not on worshipping the God of the universe. In this moment I was more interested in His creation. It was pretty early on during the worship time that I had a nudge from the Holy Spirit to dance before Him.
My response was an immediate “no way.” I may be a musician but I am a musician with 2 left feet. The only dancing I knew how to do was jump up and down. I knew the Lord was drawing me to more. He was drawing me to something undignified. He was drawing me to Himself. He was trying to lead me to a place of freedom. How could I dance undignified when there was a cute girl in front of me? The truth is most don’t want to be undignified whether someone is around or not for the sake of feeling awkward.
I kept superficially worshipping the Lord with words but not in obedience. As the worship time kept going, my nudge to dance before the Lord got stronger and stronger until it got to a point of such clarity that it was as if the Holy Spirit was standing face to face talking to me. I knew He was wanting my attention. By now the worship set had moved from fast songs to intimate songs, but my disobedience to the Spirit’s prompting was deeply bothering to me.
Partial obedience is still disobedience!
I had always believed and been taught that anything but complete obedience was disobedience. So in the midst of a slow intimate worship song I finally submitted and danced before the Lord with full abandon. The best way I can describe it was I danced like a ballerina twirling before the Lord with full abandonment. I’m sure if there was a video camera on me at the time it would have made for a viral social media craze. Even right now I am sure you have a picture of this that is somewhat disturbing. The truth is nobody probably even noticed but what happened in me changed my life.
It was in this moment of surrender that something broke in me. I had taken my eyes from a glance to gaze upon the King of Kings. This was not about a charismatic expression. This was about the Creator of the universe trying to get my attention and lead me into a place of complete freedom. I had moved from heart worship to all-in worship. It was no longer about my comforts, but about full obedience and a full gaze. What happened in me was freedom! It broke off fear of man, it broke off complacency, it broke off a partial worship mindset and moved me into a place of freedom!
Freedom is not the absence of something but the presence of someone. Jesus!
This moment of complete surrender in my worship lead me down a path that has forged the rest of my life. It moved me to deeper biblical study, to further intimacy with God and to walking in a place of freedom with the Lord that moved beyond my personality. It led me to discover that my worship is more than a song, it’s a weapon. It led me to discover something special in the worship of King David that is meant for today.
Worship changes our view. In my case I moved from a glimpse to a gaze. I got my attention in the right place.
Worship is so much more than a service. How many of us come for the singing and completely forget what the first part of our service is about? There can be 2 people standing beside each other during service. One can be in the Holy of Holies and the other can be thinking about the business meeting he has next week. One person can have an encounter with God and the other person say it’s ok. The difference is what they are looking at.
If you are not very interested, you will look somewhere else.
The veil is taken off in Christ. When you look in a mirror, most of the time you look intently because you are trying to change the reflection of what you see to what you want to see. When we look at the Glory or manifest presence of God we literally will be changed. The Glory and the Word are a mirror. When you look intently at the word in worship you are changed.
Make sure your gaze is on Him!