Surrendering Selfish Worship
A Personal Testimony, written by Emily Everett
This month at HealingStrong we are focusing on ways to Renew Your Soul. Last week, we heard a personal testimony of healing soul wounds from Suzy Griswold (if you missed it, I encourage you to go back and read… it was powerful!) This week, I wanted to give a piece of my story and I pray it is an encouragement and I humbly thank each of you for reading and being open to the work of the Holy Spirit in your lives. To Him be the Glory forever and ever, amen!
Let me start by saying that I am 28 years old, which makes me a millennial. It’s important to note this because when I was growing up in the church, there came a large shift in Christian culture.
With the rise of popular groups such as Hillsong United and Jesus Culture, worship music went from having a reverent, more subdued tone to an energy filled, emotionally driven experience. When discussing my generation, people would often say things like, “these kids are really on fire for God,” or “there’s something different about them, they seem to be really experiencing God in their worship.”
Key words: On fire/Experience.
For me personally, worship has always been the piece of the “God puzzle” that seemed to reach me. When I was in my darkest places in life, worship music or being in a worshipful environment would call me back to a place of surrender and desire for God’s will to be done in my life. I even went across the country in my early 20’s to partake in a “musical missionary” training school where we worshiped through music around the clock, on the streets, in the local churches and privately in our rooms together.
But something was missing…
It wasn’t until 2020 that the Lord showed me something extremely powerful that I had been neglecting to acknowledge in my worship. He showed me, through His grace and mercy, that worship wasn’t about me… It was about HIM.
Now, I know what you’re thinking … “Come on, Emily, this is a no brainer! Worship is clearly not about us.” But hold that thought and keep reading…
Without a full awareness of this, God began to show me that I often went into worship with one goal in mind… FEEL SOMETHING. And it makes sense, right? I had been told that my peers and I were “on fire” but how could that be true if I couldn’t feel the “heat” in each moment of my worship? I can remember time and time again feeling so empty leaving places like church, small groups, or any place where musical worship was taking place because I hadn’t FELT something. In all transparency, this is what caused me to take a detour in my faith altogether and neglect God’s calling on my life. If I wasn’t experiencing God through feelings, I guess he must not care about me like I thought He did, or rather, maybe I’m more unlovable than I thought.
Worshiping God had become all about me and if God didn’t speak to me or make me feel some specific way, then what was the point of worship anyway?
The answer? A Holy God deserves OUR worship. Biblical worship means to kneel or lay face down before God as an act of reverence. Biblical worship is acknowledging that God is the King and results in living lives in light of that truth. Worship is a beautiful and powerful reality if we understand it from God’s perspective. Worship is quite honestly the very OPPOSITE of our feelings. Why? Because our feelings are fallible, fleeting, misleading and they come from our human hearts which are by nature, sinful and wicked without Jesus. Neglecting to give God our WHOLE-HEARTED worship is to neglect the work of Jesus in our lives altogether.
In 2020, God in His wisdom helped me to understand that He IS worthy of my worship. Even when I am distracted, not in the mood, not feeling it, or simply not remembering the Truth of the Gospel in my life, He is STILL King of Kings and Lord of Lords and my emotions do not dictate His holiness.
Worship is not a feeling, a one-time experience, or a moment of feeling set on fire. It is not JUST music and singing in a corporate setting with lights and stages and talented people. Worship is acknowledging who God is and who we are because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is repenting of sin and receiving the free, gift of Grace. It is a pure, whole-hearted response to a Holy and perfect God.
God is SO good to remind us of who He is and His overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love for us – His bride, His beloved. I want to remind you that the enemy is looking for ways to distract you from the Truth that God is worthy of your worship, especially through our circumstances and our emotions. But God has overcome and defeated the enemy – He has triumphed over death and we WILL be with Him forever, with no sickness, no fear, and no shame – Hallelujah! The Lord is worthy and worthy to be praised!
Some of my favorite quotes on this topic:
“A private relationship of worshiping God is the greatest essential element of spiritual fitness.”
– Oswald Chambers
“In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.”
– C.S. Lewis
“God is to be praised with the voice, and the heart should go therewith in holy exultation.”
– Charles H. Spurgeon
Below, there is a prayer of repentance and a prayer of faith. Be encouraged that God is able to do far more than we could ever ask or imagine and He changes our hearts when we come to Him broken, willing and open-handed.
In this weeks email, it is difficult to give resources for worship because worship is a personal response to the work of Christ in you. However, we did want to provide a video of the lovely, Rebekah VanTinterin, leading worship at our HealingStrong Conference in 2018. This was powerful time of corporate worship and we encourage you to sit with the above prayers, turn on this video, and allow the Lord to encourage your heart.