We had a youth ministry team meeting last night. It was a great meeting. Lots of.... what if we try this; wouldn't it be cool if we could.....
I left the meeting with a cool milieu of creative ideas, God, praise, thankfulness, hope, Jesus, names of students and volunteers, and the Holy Spirit all resting on my heart and head.
Later that evening, as I was driving to pick my son up from a party, the song "Blessed Be Your Name" came on the radio. And I started singing along. Aand it felt great. And I started to sing with abandon. And thoughts like, "God is SO cool. Keep your hands on the wheel. God, you are so awesome. Keep your hands on the wheel." And then the next thought/picture that flickered through my brain was "God digs this....he is smiling and dancing as I am singing His praises!"
And then I thought - "Why doesn't worship feel like this when I'm gathered with my church family? What's different?"
And one of the first things that came to mind is mashed potatoes.
When I'm worshipping God - too often the picture I have in my head is like a pile of mashed potatoes. White, fluffy (if their made right with real butter and milk!), comforting, warm......and static. They just sit there. (Go ahead - try singing to a pile of mashed potatoes - I'll wait.) Mashed potatoes are safe, comforting.....and lifeless. So many times as I'm singing, praying, worshiping my focus is sadly on me - silly stuff really - like "Should I be clapping? Should I raise my hands on this verse? Should I stand up? What if I'm the only one standing? Does the guy in front of me think my singing is bad (actually I'm usually in the front row so as to avoid this situation!)?" Of course this picture isn't only around when I worship....but as I live each moment of the day (after all isn't worship really how we live?) *sigh*
And then my thoughts turned to Jell-O.
Yeah, I started to picture God as Jell-O as I worship. Vibrant colors, able to assume various shapes, sweet and tasty, easy to swallow, and jiggly. Still very safe but a little responsive - it will react to my singing with some amount of vibration. (Go ahead, get out some jello and start singing to it. If you get loud enough it will jiggle for you. I'll wait.) Sometimes God is like this in my mind. I've watered him down where he is easy to swallow. Safe, sweet, and tasty - yep, that's the God for me. That's a God that will fit very nicely with the safe life I find myself in - and it's sort of cool when He vibrates like that.....*sheesh*
And then my thoughts turned to dancing colors.
Amazing dancing colors. With depth, complexity, and rhythm. Colors that grab my attention. Colors that when I try to focus on just one it becomes fuzzy and difficult to pin down - but when I just let them flow over me are beautiful and engaging. Colors that respond and yet somehow also lead. As I sing - they dance in amazing ways. Colors that mysteriously become entwined in my very being and cause me to dance and sing in a new way, a unique way, in a way I was meant to. Colors that dance and lead in a way that I know is good....but not safe. Colors that help lead me to see those same colors in all that is around me. Colors that flow around me, in me, and through me. Colors that cover me and leave their mark on me....and in me.....and grow.
So, I've had a reality check...or maybe a truer glimpse of what is real. A change in perspective, perhaps.
I believe those colors that I started seeing last night lead me to read these words this morning...
"So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective. (Col 3:1-2)
.........And sing, sing your hearts out to God!" (Col 3:16)