Towards the Deep End
I remember back to grade school summers. We had a pool in our backyard and on the hot days me and my brother and sisters could hardly wait to go swimming. After all our chores were done we'd scramble to a private place to change into our swimwear and bolt out the back door barely hearing our mom's pleas not to run in the house. The moment we hit the warm summer air all of us would dead sprint to the water and, without reservation, jump into the refreshing coolness of the swimming pool.
These days are a bit different though. We all move a bit slower when visiting Mom and Dad’s house for the summer holidays. Each of us taking our time, leisurely making our way out to the backyard. Taking our time to situate our towels and apply the suggested amount of sunblock. Then, one by one, we make our way towards the steps of the pool and step by chilly step slowly acclimate ourselves to the coolness of the water until finally, we’re scuttling around with the waterline at our necks. Most of us don't even get our heads wet anymore.
What happened? When did things change from the reckless abandon of the faith-filled jumps into unknown temperatures? When did we decide that the slow steps of our parents was the better alternative?
There’s a story in the Bible that has an echo of this pool-like temperament. Found in a book called Ezekiel (chapter 47 if you want to read along) the text reads about Ezekiel having a vision of a man who leads him about a temple on all sides. He is lead to one side and a great river is there. He is lead then, 1700 feet at a time, towards the water beginning first with the waterline at his ankles, then to his knees, to his waist and finally to a point where the water engulfs him completely.
I set up this story to ask; Does this look like your worship times lately?
I remember when I first met Richard. One of my best friends and this worship leader’s worship leader. I was visiting another friends house to drop off some music gear I had borrowed and he was sitting at a kitchen table working on an edit of music they had been arranging together before I had walked in. We were introduced to one another and I just couldn’t get a read on him. I wasn’t quite sure if we were going to be friends, acquaintances, or just a one-off meeting of two musicians.
Over the course of a couple of years, we met again from time to time. We even both played on the same band, backing up a mutual worship leading friend of ours.
Fast forward again a year or so and I had just started as a co-worship leader at a church plant. Richard gets hired as the Youth Pastor. It’s at this point that I thought… Why not?
I couldn’t tell you who instigated the lunch but when we had pulled back into the parking lot of the church after some tasty Mexican food I knew I had found a kindred spirit. Our humor clicked, our viewpoints on God, and ministry were similar, and how we approached worship from a leadership and musical standpoint was the same.
It took time though. Richard and I didn’t start off as best friends. I think we were both hesitant. But over time our friendship grew.
Then there was John. John and I met one another when I was looking for a place to move after my current set of roommates all moved out of the apartment we were staying in. A mutual friend suggested I move in with John. John’s friendship was a “jump in” friendship. I moved in and that same night we were co-oping through the halo campaign with Dr. Pepper cans and Hot Cheetos bags strewn about. We clicked immediately.
And again I ask; Does this look like your worship times lately?
I’ve been leading worship for a little while now. There has been a number of locations and setting in which I’ve lead worship to all different types of people.
Some moments where the reckless abandon of the faith filled jump into icy waters of worship. Others where the slow methodical steps of slight hesitation as a footing was found and relationship was formed.
The question to you then is this; What has your times of worship looked like lately?
We are creatures of habit, most of us. Repetition is comfortable and comfort is king in new and strange settings and situations. How often, though, have you grown when you’ve done something that is out of your normal? When you were in a stretching situation and you found that you actually liked something that you never thought you would have before?
How often have you chosen to jump in when everything within you screams to step in slowly? When was the last time you hit ‘pause’ in your life and intentionally slowed things down when you’re accustomed to the jumping?
When was the last time you put yourself out there just to meet a total stranger, and chose to be vulnerable for the sake of a growing friendship? Maybe it’s that you jump from friendship to friendship without looking and it’s in your best interest to take the relationship slow because you or the people you’re meeting are afraid of getting burned again.
When I was in grade school, there was day chosen during every year called “Opposite Day” Amongst classmates it meant that up was down, yes was no, stop was go, and black was white. I often showed up to class without knowing what day it was. Someone would offer me a candy and I’d say “YES!” They’d yell “OPPOSITE DAY!” and run away laughing.
Jokes are always better when you’re in on them.
My challenge to you dear reader is to approach your worship differently. Approach it as Opposite Day.
You could be a reserved worshipper. I challenge you to jump in to new, and scary, and different ways of worship.
Maybe you’re an expressive and “jumping” type of worshipper. It may be time to sit, reflect, and meditate quietly. To enter in slowly to the waters of worship to God.
Here’s the thing we need to understand though. In the end, the result is always the same. The jumper, and the stepper both find themselves in the waters of worship over their head.
The slow burning friendship and the same-day-best-friend both end in friendship
The method may be different but the result should always be the same.
If you’re stepping into the waters of worship and you never go past your ankles, or your knees, or your waist then you, my friends, are doing it wrong.
It’s a harsh word to hear, but your worship of God should never stop half way.
Your worship should always take you in over your head. It could happen over night, or it could happen over the course of several years. That doesn’t matter. What does matter is the progression. The movement. The striving towards a destination.
It’s time to take stock in your spiritual life of worship. If you look back and there was a moment where you stopped moving forward then it’s time for a jump-start.
So you’re asking “How do I jump-start?”
You take the plunge into something new.
You walk purposefully towards the deep end.