my problem with goodness and beauty | pt 2

I’ve been thinking about how it is that the good and beautiful stuff I get to experience and be a part of doesn’t always sink into my heart.  It’s a problem I have.  (I imagine I’m not alone, right?) 

For the past 10 years or so, I’ve been a worship leader.  It wasn’t something I really saw coming, but somehow that’s what happened. I’ve spent a lot of time seated at a piano or with a guitar in hand, singing to God.  Then, almost a year ago, I stepped into a new role leading our arts staff at Granger, and I haven’t done much worship leading this year.  Time at the piano has been replaced by meetings, and when I do find myself on a stage, it’s to teach, not play.  (That’s not a bad thing, by the way.  I like meetings.  I get to work with smart, passionate people and create with them.  Could there be a better way to spend my time?  And I love to teach, too, so please don’t read this as something I’m bemoaning.)

I lost something in that transition, and I’ve just recently noticed it.  With all of that built-in time for worship, I didn’t have to be very intentional about adopting a rhythm of worship in my life.  Now I do. 

Goodness and beauty are so powerful, they become ends unto themselves unless we have somewhere else to direct our response.  When something good comes along – friends or food or accomplishment or relationship or a John Williams soundtrack or a John Mayer concert – we are stuck, not sure what to do with what wells up inside of us, not sure how to understand it and not sure where to direct it.  And so it becomes circular and impotent unless we worship God as a response.

Sometimes, when I fail to worship and so forget the Source of all the good stuff, I don't think goodness should be trusted. When I find myself immersed in deep, rich community, I assume it's a farce of some sort.  When someone genuinely loves me, it's easy to dismiss that as mistaken.  When the Church seems to be beautiful, we’re certain it’s rotten underneath. 

I think some people have decided that God isn’t to be trusted, because they haven’t found anything else in this world that they can trust.  I think it goes the other way.  When I remember that God’s inexhaustible goodness stands behind the good things I enjoy, I’m not so worried about whether the good things will last forever.  There’s more where that came from, right?  Even if this good thing or that moment of beauty fades, the One who gives that stuff doesn’t.

Yesterday I mentioned a discipline that I’m adopting in my life so that all of this goodness and beauty isn’t wasted on me.  Another one is starting and ending my days in the Psalms.  It’s not a big deal, really.  It’s just that when good or beautiful things cross my path during the day, I’m more likely to remember from Whom they come when I start and end my day worshiping Him.

When I read other parts of the Bible, it’s easy for me to move into analysis mode, which is a good way to read, but tragic if it’s the only way we read.  The Psalms seem to defy that tendency in me.  I also love how the Psalms don’t feel like they were written by God’s PR team.  In the Psalms, God can be seen as Savior one minute, schmuck the next.  It seems like the only sin in the Psalms is to not engage God at all.  Pissed at God?  Good.  Tell Him.  Desperate for Him?  Tell Him.  Grateful?  That too.  I think it’s in staying tethered to Him, regardless of whatever mountaintop or valley we find ourselves occupying, that we grow with Him.

So I hope you’ll pardon the terribly elementary conclusion I’m driving at, but if I find myself experiencing more and more goodness and beauty, with a heart that feels less and less nourished by it, then it’s time to worship God more intensely. 

How do you make worship a part of your life?