I can safely say, on the authority of all that is revealed in the Word of God, that any man or woman on this earth who is bored and turned off by worship is not ready for heaven. —A.W. Tozer
Our band was wailing on the guitars, beating the drums. The trained vocalists’ voices were belting out the words of the latest “praise and worship” song loudly enough to drown out the rest of us. It was a typical Sunday morning at our friendly neighborhood mega-church.
Our church has an international reputation. Songs written by our worship team are sung in churches all over the world. Our School of Worship trains musically talented leaders to focus on God, not just sing songs. Hundreds of people attend our services specifically for the worship experience (although our speakers are equally gifted). In many ways, we set a standard for the American evangelical church.
I am not complaining about the quality of our services. But I do wonder… why do we always equate worship with music?
The Bible is full of examples of music being used to worship, from Miriam dancing and singing in Exodus, to David with his harp and psalms, to Paul urging his disciples to make music in their hearts to God. No question, music is important. But this leads me to a huge dilemma.
You see—I can’t sing. Blame genetics or lack of training, but I have no ear for music. I can’t tell if I’m singing the right notes—or if you are. As a child, I spent seven years struggling with music lessons, and never passed “advanced beginner.” My fifth grade class was rehearsing for a holiday program when my teacher (bless her little heart) asked me to just mouth the words, rather than sing and throw everyone else off key.
So, while I enjoy listening to my iPod along with the rest of the world, it’s not surprising that music is not how I best relate to God.
For years I’ve struggled with what I’ve considered to be a major shortcoming. (I survive church by making sure my discordant screeching is drowned out by my wonderful husband, who always sings loudly and perfectly on key.) How does a predominately visual person fit into an audio church service? I sing because I figure if God wanted me to sound like a nightingale, He could have made me sound like one. Still, I’m not always sure God is blessed by my attempts. (Well, I assume He is, but maybe not so much the people around me!)
Instead of an ear for melody, God gifted me with an inner sense of vision. I cannot help but see God’s fingerprints all over this world that He created. This seeing is what inspires my photography, an occupation that I take very seriously. In my work as a nature photographer I seek to capture a sense of God’s wonder, His character, His creativity and power and beauty. We’re partners in creating art that glorifies Him.
I was sitting in church last week, trying to sing and feeling totally inadequate as a worshiper pleasing to God, when I sensed His voice comforting me: “I know you love me. You worship me when you photograph my creation. I accept your offering.”
How does your heart talk to God? How do you worship Him?