*Disclaimer: this is terribly personal, quite lengthy, and rather romantic. But… why not be transparent?
“All glorious is the princess within her chamber, her gown is interwoven with gold. In embroidered garments she is led to the king; her virgin companions follow her and are brought to you. They are led in with joy and gladness; they enter the palace of the king.” Psalm 45:13-15
I remember struggling with the concept of worship during my DTS. I say this at the risk of seeming slightly heretic but I remember not understanding why I needed to worship God. I didn’t understand what the point was. Why the heck did God want me to sing Him songs? I imagined Him sitting all stoic in His throne room, maybe cringing a little when I would try to hit the high notes in “Give me Jesus.” I even remember thinking that it was a little arrogant of God to expect me to sing to Him about how great and beautiful and marvelous He was. Didn’t God already know He was awesome without me singing to Him about it?
In retrospect, I know that my love for Him was a lot more shallow then. I didn’t actually know Him that well, and therefore I didn’t love Him in the deep, passionate, in love kind of way that I do now. I fell absolutely in love with God while I was in Tijuana at the beginning of this year, and I also began to hear something said to me for the first time while I was there.
“Brittany.. I love to watch you worship God.”
Those words took me by surprise, and as I reflected on them I realized that my change in attitude towards worship had everything to do with the deepening of my relationship with God. As I walked deeper into Him I realized that worship is so much more than singing, even more than saying thank you. Worship is an incredibly intimate experience between God and us. A time of absolute connection with God, absolute surrender. Of us giving to God, but also often of God giving to us.
I found this in my journal from August 22nd 2010: “And it occurred to me today, while I was giving you my love, my worship… that it is in the act of me giving to You that You fill me. And it’s occurring to me now that it’s probably in the act of You giving to me that you are filled.” I know God doesn’t need us, but I think perhaps He just might love us so terribly much that in those times of intimate connection between us… He ends up just as fulfilled as I do.
Yesterday I was talking with one of the staff of the School of Worship, and he was telling me that one of the meanings for the word worship in Greek (the language of the New Testament) refers to a dog greeting his master by licking his hand. If you’ve ever had a dog you know how that is, for them to be so happy to see you and so full of excitement in your presence that all they want to do is lick you. So for that to be what one of the words meaning worship means… implies that worship is a kiss. A sloppy wet kiss, actually.
Something else happened with me in Tijuana and it was this: one night during a time of worship I felt this great need to dance for God. It was such a strong feeling, as if I would have burst if I hadn’t begun spinning and twirling and dancing. It was beautiful, as if I was able to express to God how much I loved Him by surrendering every self-conscious thought to just let go and dance. The next day a woman came up to me and told me that God had told her to tell me that He wants me to dance for Him, to worship Him through dance. And that through my dance, other people who are called to dance would be liberated to worship God in that way as well. Whaa?! I was kind of in shock, really. As great as twirling is it was a lot to wrap my mind around that God wanted to connect with me through it. I mean, dancing is pretty intimate you know, kind of like a sloppy wet kiss.
There are other meanings for worship, the one used most commonly in Hebrew (the language of the Old Testament) refers to bowing down, lying prostrate before God in complete reverence and awe. I don’t know if you’ve ever bowed before God, but it’s a pretty vulnerable position to be in. Intimate. A complete surrender of oneself in acknowledgment that God is so Holy, so worthy of our awe and adoration. What I’ve experienced of God though is that He often does not remain silent in those moments of worship, He speaks to me as I sing and pray to Him. Which is why I use the words intimate connection, because it’s not that He sits stoic on His throne wishing I would stick to singing songs within my range. Not at all. It’s more like.. as I let down all of my defenses, and just praise Him, worship Him, He comes and wraps Himself around me, in me, through me. It’s intimate, it’s comforting, it’s even healing.
Last month I was in a time of worship here at the base, it was late at night and I was wearing my favorite cotton skirt. I was singing and dancing and all of the sudden it was like God opened up something I had shoved deep in my heart when I left Mexico. All of the pain of leaving the girls, all of my sorrow for no longer being their Mami. I hadn’t processed it, but in that moment of intimacy with God He knew I needed to.. and so I did, or rather, we did together. It was like all I really needed to do was mourn the loss of having had that blessing, and to not be living it anymore, and I needed to do that in His presence. I think I spent about half an hour sitting on the floor, cradling the emptiness in my arms where I had once cradled all of those tiny little girls, and just weeping. I was vulnerable, and sad, but I knew He was with me as I released all of the pain that I felt. Intimacy is what worship brings. And in that night, it also led into a time that brought healing and closure to me.
One day in class about the same time that this happened we did an activity where all of us had a piece of paper taped to our backs, and we spent about 10 minutes writing affirmations on each others’ papers. The point was to help us understand how we project ourselves, and what other people see as our strengths. Everything on my paper were things I had heard before: heartfelt, creative, sweet… , but then I read a breathtakingly beautiful word that I had never experienced anyone describe me as before.
I actually didn’t understand it first either, because it was so unexpected for me, but what it means is worshiper. I was shocked, but thrilled. Because I love to worship God… but for someone to see me as an adoradora means that maybe, just maybe, to worship God is part of who I am. Kind of like how in the Bible, God gave the tribe of Judah the responsibility of praising Him. You never know.
Recently I wrote about God telling me that He calls me Amada, Beloved. He told me this during the two weeks of classes we had with Sergio Canales, and during those weeks I received a lot of other words and prophecies from God as well, which was rather beautiful and rather powerful to tell you the truth. On the last day he was with us Sergio was talking to my class as a whole and he looked at me and started speaking words to me that God was giving him to say: (welcome to the world of teachers who have prophetic gifts, it can get intense let me tell you)
“You are an adoradora. It doesn’t matter where you are: dance for the LORD. Don’t be afraid to take up the ark and dance for the LORD. Through your dance He will bring heaven to earth.”
I cried, which tends to happen when God speaks beautifully to me. When I had read that word, ADORADORA, scribbled in blue ink, I so desired for it to be true of who I am. And in that moment God was telling me that it is.
Later that evening the whole base met in the dining room for the Friday night service, which is my favorite thing that happens here all week. I always get dolled up because if you want to know the truth I’m really quite romantic and think of those nights as dates with Jesus. I also always sit in the back, knowing it’s a possibility that I will feel God asking me to dance, and for me to do that anywhere but behind everyone’s line of vision could be a little awkward. Like that time I stopped at the red light in the middle of the intersection and everyone stared at me with their “I should probably call the police” eyes. I try to avoid situations like that. Thus I choose the chair in the back.
That evening, standing there in the back row with Sergio’s words still resonating within me, I felt that burning weight in my spirit that made me feel again as if I was going to burst unless I started twirling. But there was a problem, in the form of a mob of people standing in the space behind me where I always so strategically plan to dance. The only empty space in the room was the aisle.
I stood there feeling as if there was a giant magnet trying to pull me into the center of the dining hall, as I fought to remain where I was. I knew God wanted me to surrender my “fear of man” as we call it in counseling school, to just let go and praise Him, bless Him, worship Him, be intimate with Him, but it wasn’t in a forceful “dance now or you’ll regret it” kind of way… it was more of a “Come here and be with me, Beloved.” kind of way. But I knew the moment I moved from my place half the eyes in the room would be on me, can you say awkward? However, remember that time I said that I love Him so much I would do anything for Him? Well, I walked into the aisle and I started twirling.
“Through your dance He will bring heaven to earth.”
For me those words mean that He will give Himself to me. Because that is what He does when I worship Him. When I give all of myself to Him, He pours His presence into me, over me, through me. It’s almost like.. two becoming one.
“So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss and my heart burns violently inside of my chest, and I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way He loves us… oh how He loves us.. oh how He loves us.. oh how He loves…” -John Mark McMillan
All I truly know of worship is what I’ve experienced, which is an incredibly beautiful time of intimacy with God. While Sergio was here he also challenged us to seek commitment, rather than just intimacy with God. Today in class our teacher asked us, “Why do you serve God? Is it for the blessings of God.. or is it for the God of blessings?” Sometimes I feel that it’s prideful of me to answer questions like that with the answer that is obviously correct, like saying I am a tree that bears fruit. But honestly, it has been a journey to arrive to the place where I am with God right now, but.. I serve Him because I love Him. I am committed to Him. And I think maybe God honors that, and I think maybe I experience the depth of intimacy with God that I do because of the depth of my fidelity to Him.
This is a lot of me to share, but I do so because really all I want to reflect here is just how beautiful God is.
“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63:1-8