I watched as this thick-haired girl knelt beside him, both father and daughter bowed faced down before the Lord. I thought how my own children have never witnessed that kind of worship from me, nor do I remember seeing my own parents assume that position before the Lord.
I grew up in a liturgical church. We knelt. We stood. We sat. And then we’d kneel some more. I didn’t know the reason behind any of the positions we took, but I followed obediently going through the motions.
When I visited other churches, I viewed with skepticism those who dared to clap or raise a hand. Surely, their reactions weren’t genuine. They were doing it for show or to not be outdone by the person next to them. Even though I had no idea why I knelt or stood, those positions felt comfortable and, therefore, right.
Over time, as I was further removed from the church of my youth, I found my former worship sterile and lacking, the latter more alive. While I never waved my arms in the air, I felt more comfortable in a room where people were rejoicing through song, where they seemed genuinely in love with their God.
Yet, I still didn’t understand.
Watching that father and daughter marks the first time my eyes were opened as I closed them to worship from my heart and not from a missalette or a passing feeling. That night at church, with my husband at my side, I didn’t do what was comfortable–I did what I needed to communicate before my God.
Shachah: to kneel, face down to the ground. A position of reverence. “You are God, and I am in awe.” Position of worship used 80% of the time in the Old Testament.
Barak: to kneel. A position of surrender. “You are God, and I am not.”
Yadah: to praise, a standing position. “You are God, and I wait.” Psalm 43 and Psalm 79
Halal: to praise the Lord, to clamor foolishly. “You are God, and I praise.” Psalm 150
And what struck me about this evening as I learned the different positions of worship is how much time I have spent in church not understanding what I do or why I do it. After I left the liturgical church and really dug into Scripture, I saw the beauty and meaning behind the rituals that had seemed empty. And after Friday night, I learned that people who raise both hands in church just might not be crazy. Maybe.
And, perhaps, the church of my youth and the church of my adulthood are both right and can learn from one another. And, perhaps, I shouldn’t base my worship on what is comfortable for me but, instead, on what the Lord deserves.
I’m linking up with Michelle today. If you’ve never read her work before, click on the image above–you will not be disappointed!
And continuing with our Journeys through the fruits of the Spirit, this Friday’s link-up will be on kindness:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23, New International Version, 2010). Emphasis mine