Worship Time Out
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;a
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
Did it take you longer to read this passage? More spaces in the scripture means slower and more contemplative reading. More space in our life allows us to slow down a bit too.
My friend was talking about how she wanted to focus on worship more throughout her day, and we talked about what that actually looks like. For me, I feel like I can worship when I do things that slow down my mind, like reading Scripture, writing it down (with plenty of spaces), singing, rocking my daughter to sleep, closing my eyes before bed to pray. All of the above includes taking some time out of the ordinary activities of life. Time outs in toddler world are usually negative, but I’m starting to really look forward to time outs for worship. Instead of God wagging his finger at me saying, "Now you just sit there and think about what you've done," worship time outs are more like an invitation to "sit here and think about what God has done." Using Psalm 100 as a guide, I want to worship by taking time out of the day to make a joyful noise, know God, be in his presence, and acknowledge history.
Time Out To Make A Joyful Noise
"Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!" Psalm 100:1-2
I grew up believing I was not gifted as a singer, but my husband thinks singing comes with practice. So I believed him and took a singing class in college. I figured that if I was going to sing at church every week, I might as well make my singing somewhat pleasant to the people around me. I had one of the most embarrassing moments of my life in that class. I was learning to play the guitar, and figured I would play the guitar and sing my favorite J.J. Heller song in front of the class, by myself, for our final grade. For all of the singers out there, I fully appreciate you. Next to my off-key voice, I forgot the chords and stumbled a few times over the lines of the song before I just got up right in the middle of it, apologized to the class, and sat down. The class that was supposed to guarantee an A gave me a B-. I was that bad! This experience makes me glad that Psalm 100 encourages us to make a joyful noise to the Lord. Joyful I can do. Noise I can do. Singing? Meh…
Singing words is slower than talking words and much slower than thinking words. Slowing down to sing each word of a hymn forces your mind to focus on the meaning, and lifting your voice and hands ushers you into the Lord’s presence. Psalm 100:2 says that making a joyful noise and singing is a way of serving the Lord, which makes it doubly beneficial. Taking time out to sing and make a joyful noise is worship. It is slowing down enough to acknowledge God and be glad in him.
Time Out To Know the Lord
"Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." Psalm 100:3
I’m reading the book of Ezekiel right now, and I feel like every other line is, “Then they will know that I am the Lord.” God says this after disciplining Judah and Israel, along with the other nations who are warring against God’s people. He says this constantly and usually after he prophesies bad things. But they aren’t inherently bad because through the suffering, they will know that the Lord is God and that is the end goal and best place to be. (Hebrews 12:11). I always thought of “know that the Lord is God” as it refers to Psalm 46:10 in being still and knowing that the Lord is God. And now that I see this verse written on coffee cups all over Instagram, I associate it with coffee and nice filtered social media life. Ezekiel makes me think a little different.
Knowing the Lord is God is serious worship. If we don’t voluntarily stop for a moment during our day or take a Sabbath day for the week, God will help us out by interrupting our normally scheduled life to remind us that he alone is God and not our schedule or task list or whatever else we are focusing on that is not Jesus. It’s like me having to stand in front of my daughter and the TV to get her attention to stop and look at me and come eat dinner with us. She gets a little mad, but hey, I’m feeding the kid dinner. Psalm 100:3 says we are to know that the Lord is God, that he made us, and we are his. If I don’t take time out of my day to do this, I’m missing out on the nourishment of his truth.
Time Out To Enter His Courts
"Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!" Psalm 100:4
My mom always told me to never arrive at someone’s house empty-handed. But if I bring a bottle of Trader Joe’s wine to the Lord’s house, I don’t think he would be super impressed. Psalm 100:4 says to enter his gates with thanksgiving, so I guess I’ll just bring a bundle of things I’m thankful for. But seriously, worshiping the Lord is not about what you have to bring to the table, it’s about taking time out to be thankful. Writing it down. Singing it out. And doing it with others. I’m not the only one entering his gates; each person who praises the Lord with a thankful heart enters too, which is why corporate worship at church on Sundays is so special. Sure, you can give thanks to God at home in your own bed, but being thankful with others in the same room not only unites you to the family of God, but to God himself.
Time Out To Acknowledge History
"For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations." Psalm 100:5
Generations of people require years in the making. Lots of years. Years take time, generations take time, and looking back on the past, we can take time out to acknowledge all that God has done throughout our own history and the history of God’s own people. Worship is not just about being thankful in the moment but taking time out to look back and remember God’s faithfulness and be strengthened in personal faith. Worship is taking time to remember how God has worked in our own families and our own lives. And trusting that he will be faithful in future generations as well.
Is God Slow?
Taking time out means slowing down, which is almost a sin in America. Hustle is the hip buzz word, and slowness sounds slothful and lazy. Except when it’s during a football game, then slowing down for a time out is acceptable.
If I experience God in my slower moments of taking time outs during my day, does that mean God is slow? Yes. He is slow, and he is fast. He is in the past, he is in the future. But mostly, he is in the here and now. Being fully present in the moment is the closest we can get to understanding what it means for God to call himself "I AM" (Exodus 3:14) and to know what it means to "be his” (Isaiah 43:1). Being present means living above and outside of the unrelenting rule of the second hand.
God is outside of time, like a reader holding a book. We meet him there when we take time out of our own busy pages of life. God stepped into our timeline when Jesus became a baby and grew up over a period of thirty years. He came to us, and he will come again. 2 Peter 3:8-10 explains God's timeline the best:
"But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed."
For God, slowness looks more like patience, waiting for us to come to him. For us, slowness looks like taking a time out to meet the Lord. Most of life is walking in a linear line, always moving forward, going to the next thing, getting stuff done, getting older. Slowing down is stepping to the side of the forward march. It’s stepping outside of the hurried crowd to catch the view, to see the Creator, to take a moment and get some better perspective.
When I go hiking, I tend to look down at my feet much of the time because the ground is so rocky and rooted. In order to see the landscape and miles traversed, I have to physically stop my movement and pull my eyes upward. If I try and take it all in as I hike upward and onward, I’ll most likely sprain an ankle. I think that’s what taking a time out to worship is to me. I move too fast through life. Worship for me is slowing down enough to take in the view and appreciate all that God has given and how far he has brought me. It means giving myself a time out. I might throw a mini toddler tantrum at first, but I know I will walk away refreshed, closer to God, more aware of myself and more aware of his greatness.
What does worship look like in your day?
Do you need to slow down to worship?