My friend Matthew and I are putting together a workshop for men called “More Than Conquerors” next month at Westview Church in Waukee. We originally did the workshop a few years ago in Pella so we’re in the process of updating it for a new audience. The basic idea is that as a man I’m supposed to experience this sense of being a winner, a victor, and God says I’m “more than a conqueror,” but then I get totally overwhelmed by the fact that the IKEA instructions have no words. So, we dig into that dilemma with the guys.
Yesterday we shot some media for promotional material. I had Matthew (who is a rather gentle, somewhat introverted Marriage and Family Therapist) put on war paint and got him to give me his best warrior scream for this photo.
All the people boomed out hurrahs, praising God as the foundation of The Temple of God was laid. As many were noisily shouting with joy, many of the older priests, Levites, and family heads who had seen the first Temple, when they saw the foundations of this Temple laid, wept loudly for joy. People couldn’t distinguish the shouting from the weeping. The sound of their voices reverberated for miles around. Ezra 3:11-13 (MSG)
As I read about the loud, demonstrative worship of the Israelites in today’s chapter, I asked myself when I’d felt such a rush of emotion that I felt I had to scream. Just recently I got the call that my sister’s cancer was in remission and her PET scan came back clear. That created an instant shout of joy from the depths of my soul. Sports probably creates that rush of emotions as much as any other common human experience. I remember the miracle on ice in 1980 and watching the gold medal ice hockey game with my dad. It was perhaps the only hockey game I’ve watched in its entirety in my life, but I remember screaming for joy and jumping up and down when the United States won.
From the intensly personal issues of life and death (a family member with cancer) to the things that are trivial in the grand scheme of life (a hockey game), we can feel things with such intensity that we have to let it out. I wonder why it is that over the centuries we’ve stuffed the most critical and eternal spiritual matters into a box of social propriety.
For much of my faith journey I would describe my weekly public worship experience as exactly what I was taught as a child it should be: proper, cerebral and emotionless. Then, about ten years ago or so, God started a work in me. It started with tears. Each week I found it more and more impossible to stop the tears from pouring out of me during worship. Then came singing. Not just the stand there and mumble along singing, but the “sing it at the top of your lungs with your whole heart because you want God to hear your voice all the way up in the throne room of heaven” kind of singing.
Not every worship experience is intensely emotional, but I’ve learned over time that authentic worship of God requires all of my being. Not just my posterior in the pew and mental engagement, but my entire body, my spirit, my mind, my emotions and my voice. The more I fully engage in worship, the more meaningful it becomes to my daily journey.