Confronting a Savior
WRITTEN BY SARA BARNES
Imagine a throne room — immense in expanse, splendor and beauty. All around you are silhouettes of creatures unknown yet familiar. Deafening, rhythmic, glorious; their melodies fill the air.
It’s a scene like one never imagined, stretching and bending before the glorious seat of majesty.
It’s intoxicating. Your senses arouse to innumerable fascinations in the room, but the intrigue of the melodic voices call attention, demanding an intent ear. Then, almost as if someone had leaned over to divulge, it becomes clear: Night and day they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy,’ [they say], ‘is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.’ Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne and who lives forever and ever, [they] fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power…’” (Revelation 4:8-11 NIV).
The scene fades, the silence overwhelms, and again the mundane provocations of the everyday fall limply into a defeated heap. A troubling thought begins to form that perhaps the glory of that throne room could never translate to the trudging minutes that turn into plodding hours and toiling days. Surely the Lord would be satisfied with the minutes of strength and mustered joy that we offer a few times a week. Those creatures who function by "day and night" and who "never stop" must not understand a full-time, 40-plus hour a week job and a spouse to take care of and house to clean. If they did, perhaps their praise would look more like mine — genuine, heartfelt, but uttered only when enough of a moment presents itself to allow them spoken. Our adoration of the throne room is so often silenced by the consuming life we live. But what if worship was all consuming?
It can be. My husband and I saw it recently as we worshiped alongside brothers and sisters whose weekly coming together was unusual by most standards. Standing at the back of the room, we were overcome by the expression-filled worship. People of all generations were standing, jumping, dancing. Near me stood an elderly gentleman bent over from the years of life. All around him was movement. The fervor seemed to move his soul, but his body showed little movement. Only his hands moved, straining tiredly, purposefully against the pull of gravity. These were hands that had experienced and known how profound God is. His posture, his worship was sure, a sweet determination to praise. And something within him raised those tired hands heavenward.
Alongside this picture of wise assurance, a small group of young women and men had another posture — no less profound — worshiping their Savior. Their hope spread wide their hands and lifted their hearts, set their feet to a rhythm, their souls moving their bodies to dance before this King who would do great things.
Of those worshipers, he in the autumn of his life, and those in the spring, the desire to worship before their King took differing outward and inward forms, but very clearly their purpose upon entering that room had been to intentionally worship their God.
Worship like this is hard, and sadly, it’s not the standard in many churches or in the hearts of believers. Often, it’s not the standard in my heart. Perhaps we have lost sight of true worship. Were worship only to occur within the confines of sanctuary walls — such a reality would overwhelm and terrify me; for worship styles, and approaches to praising God are numerous.
Thankfully, worship extends far beyond the confines of any building or the echoes of guitar strings and practiced melodies. Worship is a state of heart posture. It is adoration and reverent thankfulness flowing from a heart overcome by love. It is extravagant in its simplicity, yet has the power to explode within us and leak into each crevice of our being, body and soul.
Worship is a state of heart posture.
It is adoration and reverent thankfulness flowing from a heart overcome by love.
In many ways this simplicity can be lost within corporate worship when the purpose and intention is not clear. Often, I know, my heart needs reminding that it is for the faith of The Gospel that we are side by side in worship (Philippians 1:27). Just as before the throne, our purpose should be to collectively raise our voice to "ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name,” (1 Chronicles 16:29). But this intention begins long before we begin preparations for corporate worship. All over the scriptures the Lord makes it clear that worship is a way to live, not solely the minutes designated to fill a time of being present before God. When that way of living is partaken in, then those designated minutes are transformed into something altogether different than before. It is no longer a forced presentation but a continuation of a song already being sung. It ceases to be staccato and simply joins in the rhythm of an already worshipful way of life.
This way of worshipful walking comes from daily bowing low, continually re-presenting our body to be a representation of death. Our worship is to die to ourselves and allow the breath of the renewal of God to then fill our lungs — who He is and what is He about — in thankfulness of His great mercy (Romans 12:1-2). As we inhale the truth of The Gospel, an exhale of praise is expelled. Another big gulp of fresh, life-giving promise, and the truth of our sin, pain, and suffering is exhaled with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving for all that has been accomplished on our behalf. Our spirit sighs. It is finished. We worship, our spirits alive in the truth of the Lord (John 4:23-24).
It is in the new life, the daily putting on of this new identity given by God, that we are able to walk into his throne room with our brothers and sisters and worship in thankful abandon. From remembrance of our salvation comes an overflow of love that wrestles its way out of us into joyful movement. With a praise that wells from our innermost being, the idealistic “day and night” suddenly becomes a reality. Our thoughts turn into praise as we muddle from one mundane moment to the next. As we resurrect each morning in the newness of life, the dream of never stopping our praise subtly becomes the metronome to the melody of our thankful, worshiping life. As the writer of Hebrews so eloquently states, “through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God,” (Hebrews 13:15-16). Hopeful and assured, we stand, walk, run, dance in thankful, worshipful praise. As the daily drudgery becomes offered up for glory, walking in truth and promise, we become the assured. And “[our] heart exults, and with [our] song [we] give thanks to him” (Psalm 28:7). Intrinsically, the throne room ceases to feel so very far away.