Yesterday Kathy and I participated in a wedding that proved to be a great worship experience. We had not expected it to be such a spiritually rich time. From the incredible mastery of the organist to the string octet to a choir full of fabulous voices, we were treated to a rare event.
Early in the service, the congregation sang “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation”. This song has some awesome lyrics, especially in the hymnal we sang from. I wish I had copied those words down. Kathy and I have sung this hymn countless times in the past, and so we have many of the verses of that hymn memorized, but these were new verses we had never sung before. Here’s one of the old familiar verses —
“Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?”
I had just returned from 5 busy days of ministry in Rhode Island. Two weeks prior to that, I had been in New Hampshire for 4 wonderful days of teaching. Those two trips, plus many other activities in our region, had me pretty worn out. I had gotten up at 4 am on Sunday to get to the Providence airport to fly out at 6 am. I was exhausted physically when I got home and felt ill-prepared for an afternoon wedding.
I was supposed to give a 10-minute homily at the wedding and had worked hard to get my thoughts down to 10 minutes. I usually preach and teach with few notes, except when I have to get the message down to 10 minutes. I tucked my notes into my coat pocket and we headed for the wedding. When we arrived at the church, I reached into my coat pocket for my notes and they were nowhere to be found (I’m still looking for those notes!).
As I waited for the wedding ceremony to begin, I feverishly began to scratch out some homily notes on the back of the wedding program. And then the opening hymn had me fighting back tears. Weariness evaporated and anxiety over my missing notes seemed silly.
“Praise to the Lord, who, when tempests their warfare are waging,
Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging,
Biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace,
Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.”
Serving the Lord in missions can be an exhausting, frustrating experience when worship is lost. I sense the need to encourage you today to be a person of worship who does not allow circumstances in life to distract you from giving our God the worship he deserves. – Dave Shive