It was a recent Sunday morning, and I was struggling to stay engaged as we sang the same words over and over. In case you haven’t notice, many popular praise and worship songs have pretty repetitive lyrics. Praise Him… Praise Him… Praise Him… Praise… What should I make for dinner tonight? Him… That lady in front of me looks really fat in that tight sweater. Praise… How can that baby sleep through such loud music? Him… I don’t like that guy’s T-shirt… praise… huh?
Something (Someone?) jolted me back to alertness and I suddenly realized that I’d put my mouth on automatic while my brain ran in a zillion different directions. I was paying tribute with my lips, but my heart was far from God.
Frustrated and convicted that I needed to do better, I confessed my distractedness to God. I asked Him to teach me to worship Him with all my heart and soul and mind and strength. As so frequently happens, God surprised me.
You see, I’m a perfectionist. While I’m not proud of the fact, growing up in a perfectionist household affected me more than I’d like to admit. But now God was using this negative trait to teach me how to worship Him. I’d been thinking critical thoughts about the people around me, the painful loudness of the amplifiers, the (to me) distracting lights. Then, in the midst of this gray haze, God suddenly broke through like a ray of bright sunshine: “I am perfect.”
Of course God is perfect. I knew that. But this revelation contained something more. Suddenly, I understood. My hunger for perfection is satisfied in God. All those years of dissatisfaction with circumstances… all the frustration I experienced when others didn’t measure up to my unrealistic standards… it all had a purpose. While I needed to let go of my critical spirit, it was actually right to be discontented with the fallen nature of everything around me. We were made for perfection. And, in a way that only God can do, He was redeeming my flawed attitude. My perfectionism was leading me to Him, the One who is perfect.
Seeing God as an answer to my discontent, I could let go of my disappointment with everything else. It didn’t matter quite so much that we live in a fallen world, or that we are a broken people. God answered my hunger with a feast of Himself.
Joy and relief flooded through me. I can worship Him because, being perfect, He is worthy of worship. I can praise Him as worthy of praise. No longer was this an intellectual exercise. My head knowledge had found a home in my heart. The distractions that had consumed me a few moments earlier seemed trivial in light of the flawlessness of God. Now He was the center of my attention. The exact words we sang weren’t as important as the intention of my heart. I wanted to express the perfection of God. For the rest of the service, I proceeded to do exactly that.