I guess I needed to hear it again

After reading this post by Ann Voskamp (and writing my own post)…

We sang this song yesterday at church…

 

 

We also sang Open Up The Sky by Deluge

And then Tom spoke these words (click there, and then click “listen” next to where it says “11-20-11 Submitted”)

And then, though I was planning on reading something else, I ended up reading part of the very last chapter of Linda Dillow’s Creative Counterpart. It is one of my favorite books… if you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend it! This is part of what I read…

There are difficult circumstances in the life of every person in every marriage. We each have a choice. When the hard times come, we can put up our fists and fight with anger and resentment, or we can give the situation to God and trust He will cause good to come out of even a bad situation. The first choice breeds discontent and frustration. The second breeds the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patients, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control.

God promises to produce godly qualities in our lives as we properly respond to trials. “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Rom. 5:3-5 NIV). Do any of you need perseverance in your live? Or character? Or hope? I do! God has asked us to respond to trials by thanking Him!

By thanking God for the unreliable and difficult circumstances, we are saying, “God, You are the blessed Controller of all things. You are sovereign and in control. I don’t understand all that is happening, but I thank You and trust You to teach me what You want me to learn, and to work it all together for good.” God commands us to thank Him and is pleased when we do. “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18).

Giving thanks is different from being thankful. I am thankful for my husband and four children and feel overwhelmed sometimes with gratitude for them. When I give thanks to God for a trial or difficult circumstance, it is not a feeling of thankfulness but a decision of my will to choose to trust God and thank Him in spite of my feelings.

{Linda Dillow – Creative Counterpart}

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when a tree is truly a tree {worship}

Up until recently, my definition of worship has always been, if I had to put it into words, “something that either directly tells God how I feel about Him (mostly worship music) or doing something to specifically serve someone else in God’s name and His love.”

We have taken a spiritual gifts test twice in the past year or so in our small group. One of my highest spiritual gifts is service… the other one is creative communication. Serving someone as worship made sense to me, because it is directly benefiting another person, and I do it because I know that I am doing it for God as much as I am for the other person. Art and poetry were always hobbies… therapeutic for me. And although I allowed myself to do those things often when I was younger (perhaps still child-like in my relationship with God?), part of it died when I received C’s in art class (I was a straight-A student), and the rest of it died when I was deeply hurt and criticized by someone (I realize now that the criticism was most likely just for the purpose to hurt me… but at the time I thought he was honest, and that he was right, and that I was no good and selfish).

The only time that those two spiritual gifts – serving and creative communication – ever combined was when I was signing for Vacation Bible School at the church that my husband and I attended before we moved… and that felt okay, because it “wasn’t selfish.”

Anyway… I feel like I am getting off topic…

Back to my definition of worship. My definition was obviously messed up. My definition had everything to do with what looked like worship to me – what I deemed “good enough” to be worship – and nothing to do with what God made me to do to worship Him. Then I think about that verse that says that if we do not praise God that the rocks and the trees will cry out.

The rocks and the trees worship! But what do they do to worship? They do exactly what they were made to do. Trees stand strong, their branches wave and we look at them and say “how beautiful! And how great is our God!” … they must be worshiping because they make us think of Him.

When a tree is most a tree, it stands there just doing tree things. Trees don’t serve anyone. They don’t uproot themselves and go across the sea to wave their branches at people in Europe. (Unless of course they are chopped down… but I hope you see my point anyway).

What do I do? And what is it that makes me me to the truest extent? If God made me fearfully and wonderfully, and He made me to do something, to desire to do something, to feel alive when I do it… then why do I try to make myself do something different?

What would I have wanted to say, even a week ago, if I were asked “when do you feel most alive?” … I would have wanted to say “when I am serving others”. I would have lied. I do love to serve others, and I do feel alive doing it, but that is not when I feel the most alive. If I answer honestly, truthfully, when do I feel most like me, the most alive, the most like I am doing what God made me to do… I’d have to say that it is when I am creating. When I am weaving words together and sketching out the depths of my heart. And right now, I am okay to be honest, because I finally realize that God made me a certain way, and that to worship Him in the greatest way, I can say “okay God… You made me fearfully and wonderfully… You made me to do this, and You love to see me do it, so I will.” And if I am truly trying to worship Him, and not worship the “right way” or the way everyone else expects me to, then I will do it. Then I will make art.

That’s not to say I’ll never serve others or go to Europe on a missions trip or do anything else :) I will. But I will be able to do so more freely because I am also free to do the thing that makes me most me, and to worship God through art. And if no one sees my art then that is fine. And if people see it but don’t see it as worship, that is fine, too (though I might need to then remind myself of all of this all over again). And if they ask why I do it and I can tell them… then that would be awesome and I hope God is glorified by it… but my purpose for creating will still always be because God made me to do it.

I recently asked my husband when he felt most alive, and his response was “when I play soccer.” Honestly, he was made to play soccer. He was made to do other things, too, but this is when he is most him. He is doing something that God made him to do, without hindrance or guilt. He is worshiping God, who made him fearfully and wonderfully, by saying “You made me to do this, and so I will.”

I hope that you have something that makes you feel alive, something that you know “God made me to do this,” to worship Him who made you, and not for anyone else. And if you do, I hope you do it.