When I was 15 years old my life was not what I wanted it to be. I was unhappy with myself, torn apart by the dissonance that I felt inside because of my conflicting desires. Even thinking about myself then makes me so thankful that God rescued me from that place.
I wanted to please God and do what was right; but I also wanted to do what I wanted, to be self-serving and live without consequences. I couldn’t see how those two things could ever harmonize, and I was right. As people, dualism eats us up inside. There’s no way around it.
I went on a retreat with several other young people my age for a weekend that changed my life. The theme of this weekend was “No More Pretending.” I’m not sure if I was surprised when I first heard that, but I should have picked it up immediately. It was exactly what I needed.
There are many things I could say about that experience. I remember some of the silly things that happened, like people dressed up in police uniforms dancing to country songs in the cafeteria; I remember feeling all alone, even in such a large group; I remember not sleeping well on those crazy bunk beds. But those aren’t the things that marked me.
There was a night when we gathered in a small room to hear the story of the crucifixion. This was a story I knew but not like this. The leader read the story from a medical/anatomical perspective, detailing in painfully specific terms how the human body was tortured on a cross. I remember being very moved by that reading, and I sat there thinking for a long time that night. There was a five-foot wooden statue of Jesus on the cross hanging in that room, and as I sat there that night, looking at that cross I began to cry. I was in awe of this Christ who had sacrificed himself for me. I was fed up with being on the fence about Him. I’m not sure if I had ever surrendered my life to Him before that moment (I was pretty sure I had), but it didn’t matter. I knew then that I was “all in,” and I wanted to surrender to Jesus, all that He was and all He had done for me. I remember looking up at that cross and asking God, “Just tell me what I need to do.” I heard the answer as clearly as if it had been spoken to me: “Worship me.”
So it began.
I had been learning to play the guitar and lead people musically, but until that night I didn’t know why. It was then that I knew what music was for, why I had been given the gift of understanding it and playing it, and what I was supposed to do with it. All in a moment.
I could go on, but I won’t. There will be other opportunities to tell the story. That night birthed a passion in my heart for worship, one that still burns there today. I believe with all of my heart that worship is what we are created for, and that nothing else can satisfy our longing heart like the worship of our God.
This is why I do what I do. I want people to know why they were made. I want you to learn what I have learned, that the deepest desire of the heart (joy) is found in the presence of God (worship). It is my daily pursuit, and I want it to be yours.
I often borrow these words from Charles Wesley as I pray. They are the cry of a worshiper’s heart:
Oh Thou who camest from above,
the pure celestial fire to impart,
kindle the flame of sacred love
on the mean altar of my heart.
There let it for Thy glory burn,
with inextinguishable blaze,
and trembling to its source return
in humble prayer and fervent praise.
Jesus, confirm my heart’s desire
to work and speak and think for Thee,
still let me guard the Holy Fire,
and still stir up Thy gift in me.
Ready for all Thy perfect will,
my acts of faith and love repeat,
’til death Thy endless mercies seal,
and make my sacrifice complete.