It's been a great day, so far...got good sleep today. We are going to give a crib to some friends tonight. They are expecting their first baby in a couple of months. How very exciting! God is good, all the time!
I struggled yesterday with some tough feelings about worship and people's response to it. Being the worship leader at our church, I am always feeling offended when people don't respond the way I think they should. Some people talk through the worship songs (even staff members, sometimes, which really ticks me off), and sometimes it just seems like people don't get it! But my oldest daughter reminded me that their response is not my responsibility. How liberating that knowledge is! Of course, I really knew that, anyway, but I needed to hear the words come out of a 13 year old to drive it home. It is only my responsibility to do two things. 1. To worship God myself, and 2. To lead out in worship. All I can do is present the atmosphere and tools to the people. Their response is their own problem. That sounds cold, but it's true. I can't make them worship. I can only show them worship. If they want to come along, that's their business, not mine. I do have a responsibility to be prepared both mentally and spiritually, so if I go in with problems on my mind or sin in my life that is not taken care of, then I will most certainly be unsuccessful, although God is certainly capable of making sure that His name is glorified, no matter what.
Oswald Chambers says that "the test of spiritual concentration is bringing the imagination into captivity. Is your imagination looking on the face of an idol? If your imagination is starved, do not look back to your own experience; it is God Whom you need." Isaiah calls on the people to look to the heavens and consider who created it all (Isaiah 40:26). This is great advice for all of us. There is so much that nature has to show us about our Father. "Imagination is the power God gives a saint to posit himself out of himself into relationships that he never was in." I confess that my imagination of God is starved! Father, break in on my imagination. Garrison my imagination with your holy troops. Bring it into subjection to Your will.
In The Sacred Romance, I am being asked to recall my first infatuation and early experiences with romance. The first infatuation that I can remember is from the 5th grade. There was this girl named Vicki. I thought she was really cute. We kind of liked each other a lot, but we didn't ever officially become boyfriend and girlfriend. Then there was a girl in the 6th grade that I was totally enthralled over for a week or two. Nothing ever came of that. There was a junior high girlfriend that lasted a short while. I think that I have seen a pattern in all of this. Most of my early "romances" were brief. They seldom lasted more than a year. Probably the longest one was a torrid romance with a girl who had graduated already, when I was a junior in high school. That one was bad for me. What do I see of my heart in these memories? That it is fickle. But that it desperately wants romance. It desires to be loved. I'm a guy. My flesh wants sex. But my heart truly desires romance. This is why I am on this journey: To seek out and rediscover that romance, with God through Jesus Christ as the "romancer." How have I encountered this Romance recently? A few years ago, I encountered it in New England, as my wife and I took an anniversary vacation (2nd honeymoon?) to various points in New England. We stopped at Mystic, CT, Concord and Salem MS (Walden pond was absolutely breathtaking!), Portland, Bangor, and Bar Harbor ME (Bar Harbor was our favorite part), Franconia, NH, Barre, VT, and Glens Falls NY. It was a fabulous trip. The glory of God is so visible up there in nature, especially in early October. I frequently also encounter the Romance in movies and books. I cry at all the right times in romantic movies. I am afraid, though, that my imagination has become jaded. I am asked what I would secretly want to do if I could do anything, with no restraints. My flesh would want to live a life of wild abandonment. But my spirit desires, well, it also desires a life of wild abandonment, but in a different way. What would I do if I could do anything? I would quit my job, and sink my time into playing and writing worship music. I would study the Bible constantly (leaving time for hobbies and games of course), re-establish my vital prayer communication with the Father, and work more at our church. There is, indeed, a longing for intimacy and adventure in this desire. My desire is to be able to live my life before God with reckless abandon.