I drive a lot. Like a ridiculous amount because my kids' schools are about an hour away in traffic.
It doesn't bother me because I like being in my car: a small compact space with the world whizzing past me...I can control the temperature, sounds, even have some tea and a snack if I want. I like maneuvering, anticipating the movements of other vehicles, marveling at the lack of turn signal usage (it's free and easy to use, guys). It's the closest I'll probably ever get to being a pilot. The car is a very comfortable place for me.
But still, it's a lot and I often only notice it after I'm done for the day and fight to stay awake after focusing for so long.
All that said, I wouldn't trade the time for anything because in that distraction-free environment, God speaks into my heart about many things.
As the cars and trucks do their lane changing ballet against the backdrop of an always beautiful sky, I listen.
This morning He talked to me about worship.
He told me there are a few reasons people struggle with worship, specifically singing to Him words of praise and love. He used the phrase "lift up their soul" to Him.
In my case, He reminded me of, as a child, having to express respect to people who were harmful to me. Due to culture, authority, and to keep myself physically safe, I had to express outward respect that felt wrong. It robbed me of basic dignity.
I decided early on that religion, especially worship, was an empty-headed performative act and I was above such things.
We often project how we feel about people of authority in our formative years on God. When I did not know God, I viewed worship as expressing respect for an untrustworthy foreign entity who at worst, was harmful, and at best, showed no interest in me. Why should I? I don't say things I don't mean.
But even after I did know God, these feelings followed me and for a some time worship was reluctant, deeply uncomfortable, peer-focused, fear-based and transactional. It took much of His healing and experiences with Him before I could truly worship Him.
What He explained to me this morning is how wrong ideas about worship prevent so many from entering His gates. Many sit by the outside of these gates, lost in their thoughts, held back by lies and past hurts.
He showed me a phone being plugged into a charger. No one questions the need for a device to need to return to the Source of its sustenance and life. And then just as quickly as He showed me that image, He made me understand worship isn't about receiving although much is received.
It's about turning One's face away from the millions of things this world and our hearts are yelling about and turning toward Him.
In the Aaronic blessing there are two times the face of God is mentioned.
Ya’er Adonai panav eleicha (God shine his face upon you) and Yisah Adonai panav eleicha. The second time, Yisa Adonai panav eleicha, means," (May) God lift up His face to you." Some people say, "Lift up his countenance upon you" or "Turn His face to you." They all have. to do with His face moving toward the person being blessed.
The word "yisa" there means to lift up but often carries with it a sense of bearing up, carrying up. There's a heaviness and a decision.
"Yisa" אֶשָּׂ֣א is used a lot in the Bible when someone is bearing a burden. Carrying the ark of the covenant. Lifting their hand to do something big.
It's the same word used in Psalm 121 when King David says, "I will lift up my eyes unto the hills" Yisa enay el-heharim.
God has the strength to turn His face to us but it oftentimes, for various reasons, takes much effort for us to lift or turn our face toward Him.
It could be a wrong idea of what it mean to worship Him- to recognize Him as the source of all good things, the source of everything we need, our Abba, our Friend, Elohim, Alpha, and Omega, the Holy Presence, Beginning and End. It could be we are afraid to thank Him for the things we've seen Him do and the many, many, million, billion, bajillion, things He's done that we'll only know after this life is over.
It could be anger, resentment, bitterness, or busyness, distraction...a sense of not wanting to take our eyes off of what's happening due to wanting to feel in control, or pride. Our culture today tells us to worship ourselves, after all.
It's no wonder worship can at times feel like lifting something heavy.
But like exercise, the harder it is to do something, the more it's needed. And the muscle grows stronger the more you use it. We can train ourselves to lift our eyes and faces. He helps with even that.
And after awhile, once you begin...well the feeling is transcendant.
I won't get into what He's taught me worship unlocks and what a mysterious force it truly is. I know He hasn't scratched the surface of that with me.
But if you can simply approach worship as a child crawling into the lap of loving parent, start there.
God is not anyone who has hurt you. He is not the bearer of empty promises or weapons against your soul.
I promise you that if you make the effort to lift your face and eyes above the dark waters to Jesus, acknowledging who He is and thanking Him for the things what He's done and will do, you will begin to see Him for who He is and heaven will begin to split open in your midst like that first ray of morning light.
He doesn't ask for worship because He needs it, but because we need it. He's 100% worthy of it and it sustains us. Don't ask me how, I don't know. But it's true. Spiritual laws are different than physical ones but they are real.
Don't starve yourself. Go to Him. He's trustworthy.
When this world has faded away, worship will be the rhythm we live by. In the absence of dark forces seen and unseen and the internal storms of our earthly lives, we will be free to worship, glittering, unfettered and in full burst of heavenly chorus, but until then, how special is it to get to give Him something that at times costs us?
This time of year there are commercials that say, "What do you get the person who has everything?"
When I tell you He turns His face to hear You sing, believe me. And if you knew what it did to His heart, you'd never stop singing.