The Posture of Worship

The posture of worship for the strong is on their knees or standing, hands raised towards heaven while singing with all their hearts and might. There maybe exuberant clapping, dancing, and jumping, depending on the music, or trembling and crying in the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit. I have yet to experience these. Most of the time, I find myself in a prone position while I do my best to focus on breathing well, which is often hard, while the Jesus Finest Generation Choir sings during worship service. It’s been mostly like that these past more than 13 years. I cannot count the times I had marveled at how my difficult circumstances hardly ever changes. I look at the singers on the riser and wonder how different my situation is from them. How vastly different! And it pains me to think why it has always been so for many years now.

"We love Him because He first loved us."

If you have been in my blog orbit these past more than 5 years, you know how I have struggled against the hardships my sickness and suffering brings and all the emotional, mental, and spiritual turmoil I go through. And though I always write about my embattled faith still standing strong through it all, it felt like my relationship with God was fraying around the edges, like it couldn’t be entirely, seamlessly, flawlessly whole while I wrestled with the many important issues in my faith life. There were the struggles against envy, self-pity, bitterness, resentment, discouragement, numbness, hurts and pains, deep longings, sadness, anger, fear, cynicism, coldness, and silent rebellion in the heart. Whew!

There were the starings into empty space with empty mind and numb heart, wishing that the blankness would swallow up all the seemingly endless suffering. And it would suddenly be all over.

But recently, the Lord called me into His rest, His holy presence, not through a powerful, Spirit-filled worship, but through gentle whispers in my heart.

A lot has happened internally since then. And though my sickness and suffering has yet to relent, I realized that I was being transformed deep inside. There had been many “refining processes” before. I call them fiery trials and through them, a lot of changes have happened in me. But through the years with no complete healing in sight, I had continued to wrestle with God, much like Jacob did.

This time, God has revealed to me the posture of worship. It is not always standing and singing.

It is not always an abandoned praise where you give all that is within you. It is all that you are. Even when you’re not singing or praising. It is who you are during the times that you cannot rise to sing and lift up your hands.

The posture of worship even in the most difficult times is humility, deep gratitude, and unquestioning faith. The highest worship we could give God is our faith even when it feels like we’ve been thrown into the fiery furnace lit seven times stronger and that it spins like a dryer. (In a cement manufacturing plant, you will see a giant revolving kiln, its height could take up two floors. This is where limestone and other materials are melted to make cement. You will see the product coming out of the kiln like red, liquid fire. The surrounding area is so hot).

Even so, but to still believe in Him and trust Him. To still draw closer to Him and believe that He is good, gracious, and plenteous in mercy. To never doubt that ever again.

To spurn the thoughts swirling in our minds that He is a severe God, that He doesn’t listen to our most fervent prayers. That maybe He’s not fair? That He loves us less than the others? For “Jacob He has loved, but Esau He has hated” (Rom. 9:13), right?

But we don’t embrace these. We cast them out from us. Because we are those children who love their Father, who want to keep on loving Him. Forever. For only in this we become strong. Only in this we are happy – truly, spiritually happy.

everlasting love

My painting of last year. (Please excuse my terrible brush lettering).

So we love Him, for doesn’t the Bible say that we do because He first did it? “We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). And this love didn’t only start 2000 years ago. It is from everlasting. He has loved us with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3). (I always want to remember this). So, even in our very difficult suffering, in our very hard places, we will love Him (crying).

We will love Him even through the blinding rain of our tears.

We will love Him because we know. We know the Truth, We know His Word. To love Him is to trust Him. No fight left in us. It is just a willing surrender. A trusting surrender. A loving surrender. That is the posture of worship.

No defiance, no bitterness, no resentment, no numbness, no hardheartedness. Just joyfully loving Him. Like a child who adores and clings to her father.

How can that even be possible when you’re battered by sickness and suffering, buffeted by diverse trials? And He, who alone can take us out of them, seems to be not moving a finger? And why ever not? All things are possible with Him, in Him, through Him, and for Him.

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23)

I love that.

So, I need not envy others. In Christ I am complete. That is the simple truth. If I believe otherwise, I have listened to the devil’s lie. The Lord Jesus did not only die to save me, He also resurrected so I, too, will live forevermore.

So, we do not only worship the Healer because we’re desperate for healing. We worship because that’s how we’ve been wired. We are created to worship Him. This is the meaning of worshiping in spirit and in truth. We worship even through trials and tribulations, for we do not worship only because of our circumstances, but in His truth. The truth that remains unchanged forever. We worship in that truth. And in the spirit, where the love sowed by the Holy Spirit is connected to its Creator.

The posture of worship will always be on our knees, literally and figuratively.

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Let Jesus’ Love Flow

Meditating on Psalm 141.

Lord, I cry out to You;
Make haste to me!
Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You.
2 Let my prayer be set before You as incense,
The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. (vv. 1-2)

David is imploring the Lord to receive his prayers as the sweet-smelling fragrance of a pleasing sacrifice wafting to the King’s throne. Then he goes on to ask the Lord to preserve him from all wicked works. For David knows that the prayers of the righteous are heard and received by God. In another psalm, he says, “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry” (Ps. 34:15).

We pray for a myriad of reasons and in many different ways and situations. Sometimes, we pray in heaviness of heart, not only because of our troubles bearing down on us, but because God seems far. He seems to us as if He’s indifferent to our difficulties and sufferings. We wrestle with Him for His attention, favor, and blessings. And in the midst of the struggle, we may feel defeated and retreat with a heavy heart, feeling disappointed and sad. Often, we may not know it, but the Holy Spirit will come and shed light on what is really happening in our hearts. Last night, I had one of those “visitations”.

As I lay in bed, a still small voice whispered to my ear that I must know and believe, and receive the goodness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Period. That His love for me will never change no matter the circumstances. That He loves me completely and eternally no matter how I think and feel otherwise. Wow, that’s a breath of fresh inspiration! I thought to myself as I closed my eyes and prayed (I didn’t want to close the door that the Holy Spirit opened).

You are good to me, my Lord Jesus!
Your love for me will never die;
You love me completely now ’til eternity.
You just love me and want to do me good!
No more doubts about that!
So, I will always run to You,
Whatever time of day or night.
You are always waiting for me with wide-open arms;
You are always delighted to receive me with your ready embrace.
I will run to You, no matter what lies the enemy whispers to me.

Sometimes, the best prayer we can offer as a sweet-smelling sacrifice that God can savor is our full acceptance of His love and goodness in our lives, not regarding the troubles we are in. The apostle Paul beseeches us, “I desire therefore that the men [and women] pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (1 Tim. 2:8, annotation mine). Lift up holy hands without wrath and doubting and let the pure love of Jesus flow to us and bathe us in its fullness. That is the best favor we can give ourselves today!

But my eyes are upon You, O GOD the Lord;
In You I take refuge;
Do not leave my soul destitute. (v. 8)

(Photo courtesy of my friend Des Rivero-Lamb).

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Journey with Jesus,