Heart of Worship| By Tori Savoy

Growing up in the church, you would find 5-year-old me standing with my hands raised at church singing one of my favorite songs, “The Heart of Worship.”

“And it’s all about you, it’s all about you, Jesus,” I would sing with a large smile on my face.

Worship was always my favorite, but somewhere along my journey with Christianity, I complicated the once so simple act of praise and worship. 

This year, prayer became a big part of my life, and it transformed my life in more than one way. One thing God placed on my heart to pray with expectation for was my fertility, and boy did he show up. I am currently expecting a sweet baby boy in February 2020.

The week following my positive pregnancy test, the only words I could utter were “God, you are so good.”

I found myself always praising His mighty name for the miracle He worked in my life, the promise He had brought to pass. I felt like I had “A Heart of Worship.”

However, a few weeks later something changed. I am not sure whether it was pregnancy hormones or just a rut, but I became emotionally numb. I tried to read and would not comprehend a single word. I would pray and easily get side tracked before completing a sentence. I would put worship music on and felt absolutely nothing. 

Here I was with the ideal circumstances, and I could not find the heart to worship the one who controlled those circumstances. I felt immediate guilt. I had been so adamant in pursuing God while praying for my blessings. Now that I had my blessings, it seemed the passionate flame in my heart had been stifled. So there I was, numb and guilty.

The devil came at me saying God was going to take my child from my ungrateful heart and that I had earned my blessings only to lose them.

Thankfully, God’s blessings are not dependent on our actions because then none of us would receive them. His blessings are a gift that comes from being in God’s will and trusting His hand (but that is a whole other topic).

My guilt made it difficult to worship because it put the focus on ME, my actions and my worth. I had forgotten about 5-year-old me at church singing, “It is all about you, Jesus.”

Worship and praise focuses not on our abilities, our emotions or even our circumstances. It focuses on the one who created every one of those and remains good until the end. 

Psalms 136:1 (NLT) says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.”

The psalmist continues to repeat the last phrase a couple dozen times in that single chapter. His worship focused solely on who God is.

When my emotions go numb, God’s love and goodness still endures. Whether my circumstances are good or bad, His love and goodness endures. 

In my recent devotional on the She Reads Truth App, the writer made a statement that hit me hard. 

“In corporate worship, in private prayer, in the smallest moments, and in the most earth-shattering ones, we always have reason to thank God for what He has done and what we know He will do. Whether or not we feel grateful or not, whether or not we feel worshipful, there is always a reason to worship in gratitude: because His faithful love endures forever.”

The Heart of Worship is not about the emotions we feel in our heart. It is about choosing in our hearts to recognize who God is and what He is capable of. 

We can choose to worship our circumstances and live according to our current state of emotions, or choose to worship the God who is more constant than our ever changing emotions and circumstances. 

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15(NIV)

Worship is not a feeling that comes when the music reaches a crescendo, or the amount of tears we shed as we do it. It is not about how high we raise our hands, how loud our voices echo or how much we dance. Worship is simply a heart that recognizes the goodness and love of God.

Let us make it all about Jesus. Because, “His Faithful Love Endures Forever.”

Caged, But Still Singing| By Chelsea Verdin

christopher-windus-92825-unsplashHave you ever wondered why a caged bird still sings? It is held bound in a metal cage with no freedom. It cannot do much and hasn’t received much, but still every morning, it manages to sing out a song. Sometimes the song is dressed in beauty with loud joy, and other times, it is a quiet mourning. But everyday, the caged bird still sings.

In the last year, I have felt like a caged bird. When we lost my three-month-old nephew last October, my entire world was shaken. Everything I knew was now questionable and unreliable. From the outsiders view, I looked like a pretty little bird happy in her own little world. You would have never imagined that I was caged in by depression and so much grief because I still managed to smile and sing through the pain.

A cage is not a place that anyone wants to be in. Birds do not even want to be in them. We want paradise because it looks good in pictures and feels like freedom. However, I have learned that you can be in paradise and still not be okay, and that faith can take deeper root within the cage.

Faith is messy and hard and meant to pull out of you the deep questions that challenge everything you think you know, so that you may learn the ultimate truth.

There is a story in Mark 5 about a man who sought out Jesus to heal his ill daughter. In the story, his young daughter dies, and Jesus heals her with some very simple words.

“Little girl, I say to you, ‘Arise’.” Mark 5:41

Instantly, she stands and begins to walk around.

This whole past year I felt like this young girl – alive on the inside, dead on the outside, caged in by illness. I desperately needed truth to speak to my heart and awaken the girl inside of me. I needed the courage to arise, stand, and walk in freedom. But grief crippled me and told me that because I questioned God that I could not live. I could not go to him with my doubts and seek real answers.

The enemy knows that our voices are weapons. They hold so much power and can strike him down instantly. He tries to make us believe that we need to be silent. He tries to make us believe that we cannot enter into the presence of God messy, but I have learned that even the most inaudible whisper slices through the clouds of the enemy and lands on the ears of our King.

The truth was God had not strayed away or left my side during this hardship. In fact, He drew closer because He knew I would need Him. And when I ignored the other voices and let my own lips sing, I found that the cage is not always there to hold us in. Sometimes, it is meant to be a safe haven, a place of rest to sit still and let Him sing over us.

“The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

And when we answer the call to sit and to seek Him out, we learn that a caged bird does not sing because it is caged in. Rather, it sings because it knows that freedom is not found outside of the cage, but from within the song it sings. And it does not matter how loud or even how inaudible the song is. Sometimes we have to sing until we believe it – until we believe freedom has arrived.

Your whisper is a roar in heaven.

Winter is just a season. The cage is just some metal walls. And your victory has already been proclaimed. Like my friend says, “This is just another battle you get to win.”

“Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away. For the winter is over, and the flowers are blooming. The time for singing has come.” Song of Solomon 2:10-12

The caged bird is still singing my friend and so are you.