Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Worship


Worship was in full swing when we walked in. Strobe lights flashed through the darkened chamber while soft fog emanated from the stage. Hundreds of arms flailed like palm branches in a typhoon while still-attached bodies swayed gently to the rhythm. We used our finest evasive maneuvers to chart a course to the safety of the stadium seats. Once settled I turned to observe the ritual chants.

A thousand heads lifted to heaven; a thousand untrained voices shouted an anthem at feverish crescendo. We were in time for the climax. The room erupted in applause while the drummer pounded everything within reach. Rejoicing ensued.

On queue the music slowed as the guy in front spoke softly into the microphone, his voice fraught with emotion. I don’t know what he said but it was quite sobering. The smiles were replaced by tears and the swaying became methodical.

Like a fortress in a storm I was unmoved. I had let the music carry me before and I would not make that mistake again. I’d tricked myself too many times to believe for change simply because I felt warm inside. This time it would have to be the words I decided. If there's anything left to be softened it can’t take my emotions like a shortcut.

The music and lights finally relented. A quick prayer, announcements, and hugs with strangers before I slouched in my chair. The preacher strode to the stage, good-looking as ever, and announced that life was full of trials. Behind him there was a picture of some fishermen in a storm. I recognized the photo from a movie where everybody dies. My cynicism was getting the better of me.

I listened intently but it was as though an invisible shield deflected everything. I just sat there, numb. It was the perfect message for me but I missed out. My guard was up. I felt burned by God. I tried to give everything for Him, but ended up feeling humiliated. 

Now I’m processing papers for people I hired. Who does that? Why would I be excited about celebrating at church? I don’t want to read my Bible, I don’t want to pray, and I definitely don’t want to sing. I still love Him a lot, and I know He loves me. I just don’t feel like hanging out right now. I hope that’s OK.

11 comments:

  1. It's definitely OK. He is amazingly creative in letting you know how much he cares, and especially outside the church building.
    Darrin

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  2. I read this post and thought, hmmm..those words sound familiar. Here's a few excerpts from my journal a while back.: "Sometimes I just feel like I'm standing alone in a big empty field."

    "I think I know what I should be doing, and I don't want to give up my walk with You, but it doesn't seem to be there anymore. It's like I feel numb to all that's around me."

    "I'm so sick of feeling nothing, I want it to be real, but no matter what I do, I feel so dry. I feel lost without a hope. The tears won't come so I can be restored. The hurt won't heal, the pain's still here. I need something; something's missing." "I can't say a lie to You and I can't sing what's not true. The words to the worship songs we are singing just aren't where I am now. I don't want to be here in church. I'm getting nothing out of it. It's as if there's nothing here for me. It all feels so meaningless."

    I could go on, but that sums it up best. It was probably the worst time of my life. I couldn't deny stuff God was doing in people's lives, but I felt NOTHING. It went on for quite a while. And one day, desperate for anything, I started calling people and asking them for prayer. One particular older woman, whose house I stopped at, said some things. I don't have a clue what she said and I don't think it mattered. But when I returned home, something had broken off me and I was totally different. My walk with the Lord has never been the same.

    I don't want to pretend to have all the answers. I don't. Not by a long shot. But I just wanted to say

    there is hope.

    Praying for you guys!
    ~Lis

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  3. "emotions as a shortcut". Aye, there's the rub! (as Shakespeare said). I'm still perplexed as to why God gave us such a fickal sense that steers us through such highs and lows, leaving us wondering what was Him and what was just our emotions being ramped up (or down).
    The beauty is your actually digging deeper than you ever have.
    When the darkness begins to lift, life will mean so much more than it did when you walked into this dark maze.

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  4. Life is so fragile..............

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  5. hey,
    just wanted to let you know that i love your blogs and i love seeing the real you, what's going on beneath the surface. i've been through some really "dark seasons of the soul" too. His hand is on you for good Matt even though it sure doesn't feel like it. this too shall pass...it will.

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  6. This is a great post, Matt. You put words to what a lot of people experience at some point in life.

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  7. Matt - I think you're still letting your emotions lead you - only now it's negative ones like cynicism, anger and doubt that are calling the shots in your life. It seems that you feel your negative emotions are somehow more "real" than positive ones you've experienced in the past, or the ones that others in the room were feeling that day. Perhaps those other emotions were actually the genuine ones, and what you're feeling now is the work of someone who hates both you and God; and if he can't destroy the one, he'll settle for the other. I sympathize with you, Matt, and have experienced these kinds of emotions, too, but I have never seen my life, or anyone else's, improved by putting them in charge.

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  8. I know how you feel Matt ...

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  9. I know how you feel too Matt. A phrase that a close friend of mine has been emphasizing this year has really stuck with me..."But God..."

    When it all plain 'ol sucks and you don't really understand a thing, of why or what even happened. There will always be a, "But God..." moment. Or even days, weeks, and months later we will come up for air and say, "but God..." He's gracious and cool like that. He WILL give us glimpses of clarity and a chance to see what He is up to. I am believing this for both you and I and all those in a season such as this.

    I had a moment like this today. No idea what is going on or even why but... oddly enough I am starting to trust Him and even see a little picture of what He is up to. It hurts but He is working it out!

    In Him,
    Heather

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  10. Whoever "Anonymous" is up there, I love what they wrote. "It seems that you feel your negative emotions are somehow more "real" than positive ones you've experienced in the past, or the ones that others in the room were feeling that day. Perhaps those other emotions were actually the genuine ones, and what you're feeling now is the work of someone who hates both you and God". Very well said.
    Your post and their response give me a lot to think about.

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  11. This anonymous thinks you somehow are writing my life. Wow, amazing to read your words when I've been living them for the past year and a half. Finding the way back to what is real and what is religion is a long, slow process for me. Yup, I've even used swear words, a new experience for me. I'm glad my friend directed me to your blog. I don't feel so alone. Wow!

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