Their chapel is actually more in the middle of nowhere than their main campus is…Jon and I got lost. Once we found it though, we found a tiny white church with one room, a dirt parking lot, wooden pews, hymnals, and the friendliest people I’ve been around in awhile. The people that filled the pews seemed to be a mix of regular congregants, men going through the addiction program, their families and friends, and staff members. We were all gathered there for different reasons, yet still acknowledging each other as brothers and sisters of the same faith. The pastor stood up, asked us to grab our hymnals and directed us to a page number.
Now this is the part where I became more “judgey” than I usually am. I didn’t know the first two songs. In my head I declared them corny, old fashioned, and just “not my style”. I guess I sang along, although if you told me I stood there uncomfortable I would assume you were right. The pastor, who was also the hymn sing leader began to preach. I think he preached a psalm that David wrote although I couldn’t remember which one, I was busy in my head thinking about when we would get to leave for dinner. He finished and then instructed us to sing Amazing Grace. A song I know! Yes! Wrong! It was some different version of the beloved song that I didn’t recognize, couldn’t really follow, and yet (and yes this is where it happens…) “AHA”. I looked around at everyone in this tiny church singing and shouting out to the Lord. The sound that came from this small group of people began to overwhelm me, and convict me.
Out of all the Sundays, Saturday nights, and special nights of worship I’ve been a part of; this was different. The people who were worshipping God that night were doing just that, worshipping. They were a genuine example of seeing God for who He is and what He’s done and responding to Him. The response led me to tears. It was absolutely beautiful. It was as if God smacked me upside the head and said “You’ve been wanting to lead people in worship? You say you want to worship me in all things? Can you see it when it’s right in front of you? Look around!” In that moment I immediately changed my attitude and perspective. I prayed that I would worship Him like that. That I would be reminded of His goodness and faithfulness. That I would be reminded that my circumstance doesn’t define who God is, but that my faith in who God is would define my circumstance. Aha.
I was so focused on my own likes and dislikes, that I almost missed the amazing moment happening right around me. A moment that God has placed in my heart as a divine teaching moment. I can’t get that evening out of my head, nor should I. The next time you are out of your element, or far from your home church, look around and see what God may be showing you through His people. We are diverse, spanning all nations and generations, thus collecting various preferences and expectations, but when we have trust in who He is, what He’s done, and what He will do, we all respond the same way; true worship.