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Faithful Living: During Lent, surrender to faith
Today is the 10th day of the Lenten season and in keeping with my commitment to reading the Purpose Driven Life by best-selling author Rick Warren, I opened to Chapter 10 which is titled, The Heart of Worship.
I stopped for a moment to guess what ideas Warren might introduce in this chapter and I quickly assumed he would talk about Sunday, the traditional day of worship for Christians. I was sure he would encourage heartfelt participation and less consumerism. After all, how many times have any one of us sat in church and acted like a critic instead of a participant? I have a good idea what is running through your mind because similar thoughts have occasionally run through mine: These songs are too slow too loud too many too contemporary. The piano sounds off key. The message was not enticing.
Then there are family management issues that continually come into play with great intensity on Sunday mornings when all you really want is for everyone to step up and get ready on time. But if truth be told, this is rarely the case.
Your daughters top is too short. Your sons teeth are not brushed. Your husband rolled out of bed too late to shower away those little patches of hair sticking up in funny places. The stress of getting everyone to the car frequently erupts into arguments on the way to the service.
And when you arrive, later than you prefer, you get stuck in the back of the worship area where the kids feel inclined to goof around because nobody is looking way back there until you give them the evil eye and bribe with candy.
When the service begins the baby cries and must be taken out. The older kids, stressed by the hurrying around, decompress by drawing pictures in the bulletin, fidgeting, whispering and giggling or sighing loudly when you ask them to look interested and participate. You long for everyone to look like the image youve created in your head and yet you must focus on worship and not dwell on how disheveled you really feel.
At moments its enough to deter any attendance at all.
Does this describe any one of your Sunday worship experiences? Of course it does. This is the stuff of human beings.
Warren artfully avoids this discussion, however, because we understand these dynamics. Instead, he provides ways to avoid such experiences by diving much deeper. He boldly tells us that to experience the kind of worship God wants for us, we must surrender ourselves heart, mind and soul daily, hourly, moment by moment, to God.
Surrender is the heart of worship and is the bold step Warren urges us to take as we deepen our relationship with the living God. To surrender is to push through fear, pride and confusion to trust what God says to us in the Bible.
To surrender is to trust when He promises to love you, when He promises to never leave you alone, when He gives you unique skills, when His makes evident His plans for you, when He offers forgiveness even when you cant forgive yourself, when He is patient and when He says He cares about the most minute details of your life.
I know. We all have limits. We often want what others have or remain indecisive because we are confused about which road to take or whom to believe. Indecision. Personal doubt. Fear. Laziness. It all comes into play with greater intensity than the desire to live a life of worship.
Warren points out that worship is not a Sunday-only activity but an attitude and reverence not only for God but for the moment-by-moment choices we make. We can, in fact, choose a worshipful approach to all we do in life, however insignificant we perceive it to be.
When we choose to get to know God we will develop clearer ways of determining His will as we make our daily decisions. And as we test the waters with Him, trusting what we know to be His way (even though our natural tendencies may be different) our attempts to be worshipful in the dailyness of our lives will be rewarded with newfound peace, freedom, and power.
So here is the challenge for today: What do you regularly surrender to? Do you surrender to the opinions of others? Do you surrender to fears about money rather than trusting what God says about our spending? Do you surrender to old resentments, pride or ego?
Why do any one of us surrender to these factors when God gave His life to demonstrate the profound love He has for us?
Now this is a Lenten challenge worth our attention.
Freelance writer Joan Bay Klopes e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.