A good friend said to me “I worship until I feel like worshiping”. So began a journey for me about what is really going on when we come and worship God. In a refreshing way she admitted that at the start of our Sunday gathering, often she wasn’t in the mood to worship God, but she gave testimony to what happens when we do; when we choose to worship God despite our feelings and our circumstances, our feelings change. When we worship God we are choosing to declare truth about who God is, and what He has done for us through Jesus. As this truth is declared, and the power of God becomes our focus, our circumstances and temporary emotions have no choice but to diminish.
God gave us worship was a tool; we have a whole book of the Bible, Psalms, dedicated to worship. David, the main contributor to the Psalms, laid down foundations for us in how to worship God, dancing (even undignified, 2 Samuel 6), using instruments, glad sounds of joy, shouting, and singing. Many times we are commanded to be joyful.
During my first year worship leading in a small church in Sydney, I felt God stirring me in the way that I was worshipping Him. I had no issue standing and singing before a group of people, or raising my hands, closing my eyes, any of the ‘normal, acceptable’ postures of worship in a charismatic church. But I felt God telling me to shout and dance during worship (just as David writes and models in his own life). Somehow we tend to forget about these more outward bodily expressions of worship, and focus on singing and instruments, but when we come back to The Bible, we find that noisy worship, with shouting, is used for declaring victory and God’s goodness, along with dancing and music. What are we missing out on when we keep our only expression of worship in the comfortable, quiet range?
But comfortable and quiet is a whole lot easier, isn’t it? This was my setting: me, a band of five musicians, and 40 or so church members in a small warehouse. Oh and a new boyfriend (who thankfully did marry me but could have run a mile upon seeing this new noisy way of worship). I was stuck between the truth I found in the Bible, and vulnerability of being the new ‘church shouter’.
But one day, I just went for it. Instead of singing a nice little tune to God in between two songs, I started shouting about how good God is. Initially I didn’t feel like it, and yes, I was the only one in the room doing it. But as I brought this sacrifice of praise I was caught up in the tangible presence of God, and the undeniable truth that we are worshiping the Almighty King of Kings, Lord of Lords, who deserves a whole lot more noise and attention then we will ever be able to bring. And just as the walls of Jericho fell (Joshua 6:20) as the Israelites shouted, I felt the walls come down in my life that were holding me back from worshipping fully. I felt a new freedom to dance and shout (even in front of my peers, none of whom had caught the shouting bug just yet unfortunately), and knew that I was being obedient to God and actually reaping the benefit of wholeheartedly declaring truth about our God.
Our song Let Out A Shout came out of this season, where I started learning about the power of praise in every circumstance, and the power of choosing joy, choosing dancing, choosing loud, shouts of declaration no matter what our day-to-day life looks like. In Jesus Christ, we have a joy that can’t be taken, by anyone, anything, or any power of darkness; we have Someone worth shouting about.