I ask this question because right now in my life it's a very different time. I can honestly say that I am not sure that I have been here before. I know that God is in control and leading me in the path of fulfilling purpose but I feel like a blind man walking. One thing I find during this time is worshiping whether through a song, prayer, giving or in silence refreshes my soul and reminds me of the call that's on my life. Just a thought...
I was under tremendous pressure last year, partly due to my active participation in my former church and because of financial issues. I was operating in multiple functions/positions in my church but seemed to be failing in every other part of my life. My rent was behind, my electric was cut off, I reached the 5 year anniversary for my dead end job in a mail room, and my car wouldn't start with out constant tweaking. I was depressed, oppressed, and generally disgusted. The thing is, that, apart from my financial mismanagement, I was not engaging in any sinful lifestyles. I was still tithing, still praying, still attending church, still confessing the Word over my life while my life caved in all around me. I didn't get any support from my pastor, colleagues, friends, or family. Everything was just a huge disappointment. One thing that kept me going was that as the praise and worship leader at the church, I had to praise and worship no matter what. When I ended up giving up my apartment to move home with mom, I still had to Bless him. When I was embarrased on the job parking lot because my car wouldn't start, I still I had to praise Him. When I didn't have anyone to talk to and unload all of my grief and pain, I still had to worship Him. It was my job, I was appointed to do it, and it helped me through. My praise and worship drew others in to the presence of God, because they knew some of the things I was going through. After about 2 months of that I finally got promoted to the job I have now! Because of situations like this in my life I know the power of praise and worship. Studying the Word, and service have it's place, but we are instructed to "always pray" (Luke 18:1, Ephesians 6:18) and to "continually offer a sacrifice of praise" (Hebrews 13:15).
This is a season of life experience that we all will go through at some point...for me it's been 5 years since a lot of key things changed for me, and it's not been easy. But my wife and I are finally understanding the reality that God really isn't all the interested in making our lives easy; He's waiting to see if we'll be faithful. As Jesus said to Thomas,“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (Jn. 20:29)
Here in North America, we preach an easy gospel. Happiness, blessing, problems solved - that's the Christian way. But when I look at (for example) the life of Paul in the book of Acts, it was anything but easy. Yet he found courage and strength in singing hymns to his God while in chains. That's the power of worship.
I can't say how many times I've gotten into my vehicle to go somewhere, perhaps feeling low and lost, and when I turn on the music, just the right song starts playing to remind me of who God really is, and that He has not left me alone. My part comes in responding to it, and thanking God for that reminder.
"Here in North America, we preach an easy gospel. Happiness, blessing, problems solved - that's the Christian way"
It is rather pathetic, isn't it. Sometimes I'm quite convinced that we are the modern equivalent of Laodicea--fat, happy, and oblivious to what's really happening around us. Early Christianity and modern Western Christianity seem to have little in common aside from the name. I am pleased that there appears to be a movement growing in many churches for the church to actually be involved in ministering to the community and not just to itself.
"One thing I find during this time is worshiping whether through a song, prayer, giving or in silence refreshes my soul and reminds me of the call that's on my life."
All of this helps me to regain focus when I'm dry--or more appropriatly labeled for me--when I'm selfish. One thing that has specifically turned my focus is going into a local nursing home and helping wheel people to meals, bingo, etc. The workers appreciate it greatly and so do the residents. Taking some time to just listen to someone who gets few visitors does more for me than it does for them.
Hi Joel, it is most definitely a shock to the system to find yourself in that place, be assured though, you are most certainly not alone. When I first came on to this site about a year and a half ago, I was in a very different place and I didn't know what had hit me. Where was God? Why did it feel so bad? Where am I going wrong? etc. etc. etc. Didn't understand it.
He brought me through it though, and He will do the same for you. During that time, it felt awful, but now I am actually finding myself thanking Him for the experience - never, ever thought I would hear myself saying that in a million years.
Stay with it Joel, keep on praying and worshipping in obedience, He has great plans for you.
Picking up from Michael and Rick about giving.....I only 'met' you a couple of days ago, and you have already blessed me greatly by your music and humility.
Praying for you Joel. God Bless you always. Lorraine
I just came through a year of just extreme pressure and pain. It started a in the fall of last year. My hubby and I were leading worship at a local church and were constantly being told that they really wanted the "other guys" that were better but now faithful like us by the pastor. It was so bizarre because it would go from "You guys are really talented" to "Your not good enough to play anywhere else but here" comments. His wife was freaking out and throwing things and losing control before every church service (we were doing both tradition and contemporary services). Then the pastor got on this kick that he wanted a new church building and was convinced that they path to that was through worship so it became nothing but micro-managing and constant criticizing about obscure issues. I just did not understand why he was being so mean when the people were enjoying worship so I was just tormented by it. Then I had a heart attack at church, got out of a week long stay in the hospital and went back at it again. Then a few weeks later right before Christmas my dog died. Not just any dog, a dog who was a real comfort to me and was by my side every minute of the day died suddenly in my arms. Then in a few months my husband got MS and was suffering while trying to get worship. We had to quit doing worship when he could not get on the stage anymore. He had to stop working so our income was not stable and the whole time really nobody even cared. I guess I just finally had enough and quit the church. My husband did not agree and I had always let him make those decisions but enough was enough for me so I started attending another church in town. I loved the good preaching and teaching but was just a wreck from guilt and pain when I started going there so I am sure I did not shine brightly as a newcomer. I have PTSD from childhood trauma and abuse so the move was so stressful I really thought I was going to die at times. I coped with it though by studying the Word, talking to the Lord a lot and sometimes just praising him on my pennywhistle or guitar for hours on end. Just song after song getting the Word into me. It really did help. I know this sounds like the most dreadful country song but what can you do? I am now on the worship team playing whistle improv but am finding it rough not having any ownership of anything there but I am just trying to hang in there with it's ups and downs.
The point of our worship offering is never our own edification. It is for God's because he commands us to give it. This doesn't mean that we can't worship God and have him bless us back. But if we are using worship to get us through tough times, then I have to wonder: are we using worship for it's intended purpose?
This said, worship has never helped me do anything. I think saying that it "worshiping God helped me do xyz" deifies the act of worship. God, on the other hand, helps me do things. He has certainly delivered me from some tough times. Earlier this year when I was fired (which was its own blessing) from one ministry, another was taking me out to dinner and extending an invitation. My wife and I believed that we were going to be in for some financial hard times, being as the previous ministry was paid and the current one is not.
However, God more than delivered there too. Our income wasn't negatively effected, it was positively effected as by God's own hand, a business that we only worked as a freelance project took off and has started to gather clients from all over the country. We haven't even finished our website yet which is our only promotional vehicle!