Friday, September 6, 2013

Love is Emotional

Diablo Lake, Northern Cascades National Park
If you have never been to Mt Rainier National Park, I highly advise you correct that misfortune.  I went camping just a mile outside of the south end of the park last week and was met with such a magnificent beauty, I couldn't walk away.  At 730 am I had woke up and crept out of my tent, grabbed my "Desiring God" book by John Piper, and proceeded down the steep river canyon down to the mossy covered rock shores of the Ohanapekosh River (Or as I like to call it Osh Kosh Begosh).  This may be hard to imagine but I will do my best to describe the moment.  I found my way out to a rather large rock sitting smack dab in the middle of the mild rapids of pure cerulean blue water.  The sky was calm and blue with wispy clouds coming over the hills high above the canyon.  Tall, thick, numerous evergreen trees flooded the riverside and surrounding areas.  Hardly any morning light breached to the ground floor, only being seen at the tips of trees high above.  There are no sounds in places like that, only the calm constant roar of water as it splashes down through rocks and fallen trees. 

Utter peace. 

I was reading the worship chapter of the book and quote after quote struck me.  I will just spit ball a few of them here. 

"We do not eat the feast of worship as a means to anything else.  Happiness in God is the end of all our seeking.  Nothing beyond it can be sought as a higher goal...Genuine feelings of the heart cannot be manufactured as stepping stones to something else"

"Worship is authentic when affections for God arise in the heart as an end in themselves"

"You have capacities for joy that you can scarcely imagine.  They were made for the enjoyment of God.  He can awaken them no matter how long they have lain asleep.  Pray for His quickening power.  Open your eyes to His glory.  It is all around you: 'The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork'"

I had a friend ask me one day, "Do you ever have moments where you are just overwhelmed with peace and beauty?" That describes that moment there on the river in a nutshell.  You don't want to leave moments like that.  In the midst of everything going on in life:  betrayal, hurting, inequality, busyness, injustice, hatred, selfishness, you come to a place like that and everything disappears in the roar of the rapids.  Alone, you come, and spontaneously enter into a place of worship, and nothing else matters.  You are perfectly content to just silent....lay clouds.....sing some more........ever staring at the Glory of God.....never leaving.  Time dissipates.  Life is forgotten.  All peace floods over you as you worship God. 

I remember about a month ago, I had just biked to Vancouver, Canada.  I went on a solo exploration of the down town and ran into a new ride they were offering called fly over Canada.  Its one of those 4D movie rides that suspends you and tilts you different ways as a giant hemisphere screen envelops you.  It starts off on the east coast, flies over some boats and a coast guard ship.  Soon you are diving into Niagara Falls as mist sprays you in the face.  Then moments later you are chasing horses through wheat fields, climbing over the Rockies, seeing the Aurora Borealis.  I will be honest, the overwhelming sensation of such creation brought me to tears.  AND I WASN'T EVEN THERE.  But for 10 minutes, I was in peace, gazing into Gods beauty and remembering His faithfulness. 

Each of us probably have our own moments of peace where it is just you and God.  Meditate on that moment right now....

But what about the moments where life is all around us? Where peace is hard to find? where worship is hard to muster? Where friends let you down? When we long to worship but can't seem to get past everything going on? John Piper writes after describing the spontaneous, unencumbered joy felt in that type of worship above, "In a prior stage [of worship] that we often taste, we do not feel fullness but rather longing and desire.  Having tasted the feast before, we recall the goodness of the Lord - but it seems far off.  We preach to our souls not to be downcast, because we are sure we shall again praise the Lord.  Yet for now, our hearts are not very fervent"....."We honor the water from the mountain spring not only by the satisfied 'ahhh' after drinking our fill, but also by the unquenched longing to be satisfied while still climbing to it."

Life can get overwhelming.  My life has been pretty overwhelming lately.  It seems like I just can't get my head above the water.  One minute I'm sitting on a rock floating on top of the water, the next minute I'm home, overwhelmed by the waves and beginning to sink.  And amidst the rage and hurt of life all around me, all that appears is a dimly lit hand in the water that grabs me by the collar and puts me back on the rock.  Crying, broken, ashamed, feeling like a failure, coming to God, smothered in my pillow, I lay in solitude relying on His strength to get me through, to restore His joy to my heart.  "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise"..."Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.....Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit" Psalm 51: 17, 10, 12

So whether you are on the top of a mountain, echoing your lungs off across the Swiss Alps... or editing a paper while staring at a computer screen for hours, wishing you could transport through your calendar to the beach in the picture, worship is found.  Whether you are peering off the edge of the Grand Canyon in all its unfathomable majesty, or sitting in a court room praying that the Lord would reveal His majesty in a world of injustice, worship is found.  Worship is emotional.  It is a longing of the heart.  It is found in joy, as well as grief; peace and contentment, and fear and anger; hope, and also sorrow.  

Wherever you are on that spectrum, long for God.  Worship him in your tears.  Worship him with a smile a mile wide.  Just pour out your emotion to Him.  He is there to care for you when you feel uncared for.  He is there to dance in the fields with you.  He is always there and is seeking for you to long for Him.