With growing boredom, I slump down into the hard pew and stare at the tiny pencils and prayer cards in front of me. I breathe out a silent sigh of frustration, knowing I will chance a dirty look from Mom if I let it out loud. My sister sits next to me, slightly less fidgety than me. I try to pay attention to the words the man in front is saying, but they make no sense. Words like salvation and repentance mean nothing to my four-year-old brain.
Finally, he asks us to turn to page 294 in our hymnals. I jump up eagerly, knowing the service is drawing to a close. I stand on tiptoe next to my mother, and peer intently at the Methodist hymnal in her hand. The organ plays some long, loud tones and I look around, wondering what is coming next. Everyone around me begins singing in unison, and I listen in awe. All I can see are strange black lines and markings on the page before me. It’s like some strange code that everyone knows but me. I stare more intently, hoping that the unfamiliar markings will begin to make sense and I will be able to join in. No matter how hard I focus on the hymnal, it doesn’t become any clearer. I simply listen to the angelic voices around me. There is an awe that seems to fall upon the room. I look up at the faces as they sing. The women are smiling, as though at peace with the world.
Before I could read music or knew what salvation meant, I knew that there was a bit of mystery and reverence involved in worship. It was holy before I had a full understanding of the word. Though I couldn’t sing along to the hymns at that young age, I could sense the adoration in the room. I longed to be privy to the strange code so that I could join along in the singing.
It was special. It was not to be taken lightly.
Worship rarely has that sense of awe for me anymore. There’s no mystery; no reverence. I’m too flippant. I forget that I am bowing down before the God of heaven and earth and everything. It just turns into, “Hey God, thanks for all the stuff You do. You’re pretty cool.” Although I believe that God wants me to be comfortable and free in worshipping Him, He is still the God of power and might; the God who would smite down the Israelites for disobeying. I would do well to remember that.
What’s your earliest memory of worship?