Friday, May 14, 2010

I Kiss with my Eyes Closed

I kiss with my eyes closed. I also take a shower with my eyes closed and I worship that way, too.

This post is #2 in a series about worship. Also see my previous post, 4 Musical Languages of Worship.

I think worship is a lot like kissing and showering. Worship is an experiential activity and when it's good, I want to put my whole self into it. I close my eyes and I let go, just like kissing and showering. To do that, I need to be into it, I need to feel safe, and I need to know what I'm doing.

Let me explain.

I'm into it.

When I'm into it, I'm connected and engaged. I'm kissing a guy I like, the very one I have a crush on, and to whom I want to say "I love you" in a language without words. Maybe I've been waiting for hours or days for him to kiss me, and now the moment has arrived and I'm so very glad it's finally happening. Nothing feels as good as this moment right here and now. I close my eyes and pretend the world is only me and him. I'm into it.

Or perhaps I'm taking a shower to get myself ready for a wonderful day, a big date, or a special event. Maybe I'm showering away the dirt of a day well spent, sweat I poured out persevering through a tough time. Nothing feels so good as that warm water on my skin. I feel my muscles relax as the stress of my day goes down the drain. I close my eyes and relax. I'm into it.

In worship, there are times when I arrive badly in need of time with God. I'm battled and bruised from the week behind me, I'm fearful about things that might happen in the week ahead. I want to run into God's throne room, crawl up in His lap, bury my face in His shoulder and disappear into Him. I raise my hands in the air saying "Lift me up, I've fallen down." Or maybe I've had such a great week that I can't wait to thank God about it. I want to kneel at His feet and pour out my gratitude to Him. I raise my hands in the air for a big high five with God. This is an intimate moment and my heart aches for quality time with Jesus. Nothing feels as good as this moment of Just me and Him, that's all there is in the world and that's all I need. I'm into it.

I'm safe.

OK, let's get to a confession. I'm afraid of being judged. Judgment is just a precursor to condemnation and I fear it like nothing else. What if I'm not good enough or smart enough? What if other people stare at me or laugh at me? If I'm kissing or showering or worshiping, I want complete freedom to enjoy myself. I want complete privacy, even invisibility. We know how this plays out with kissing and showering. In worship, it might take some explanation.

I want dark.

I want the room to be as dark as possible. In the dark, I think you can't see me and I'm safe in the dark. I have complete privacy in the dark. I can make faces of joy or I can weep quietly and only God will know if I'm here in the dark. I'm free from any embarrassment about how silly I might look. I'm safe here in the dark to worship.

I want loud.

Loud is to being overheard as dark is to being seen. I want the music to be loud for the same reason I want the room to be dark. I don't want you to be able to hear me because I'm afraid you might judge my singing. Think about a rock concert held in an arena. It's so loud, I can't hear my friend screaming right next to me. It's the perfect environment for total all out top of my lungs singing along. It won't matter if I sing the wrong words, the wrong tune, at the wrong time or during a big solo. Nobody hears me but God. And that's just how I want it. I throw my head back and belt out my heart to God. I'm safe here where the music's loud and I can worship with total abandon.

This desire for a really loud worship experience might offend some of my friends who complain when it gets loud in church. I know you want the volume of the music to be close to what it is at your home listening to your stereo. I understand that's a comfortable listening level. But that's the point - you're not supposed to be listening. You're supposed to be worshiping, singing along at the top of your lungs, too. This is a different experience than the experience of listening and the music level has to be different to make it happen. We want to be safe to participate without embarrassment or judgment and that takes really loud music. With loud music, we're safe.

I want lots of other worshipers.

Think "rock concert" for a second. The stadium is packed with lots and lots of us, getting into the music, having an awesome time. The sound and excitement in the air are so thick, you can see them. Nobody is looking around. All the attention is focused elsewhere. In a concert, we are focusing on what's happening on stage: the music, the lights, the performance. In worship, we are reaching for the spirit of God in the room. It's a paradox of worship that the more crowded it is, the more privacy the individual worshipers have. Other folks, in the dark, surrounded by the sounds, raising their hands, raising their voices, closing our eyes, kneeling, dancing, worshiping. It's a picture of heaven.

I know just what to do.

So I'm in my happy place, worshiping with all my heart because I'm totally into it and I'm totally safe. This will go well as long as I know just what to do.

Knowing what to do means I'm familiar with the music. I blogged about that in a previous post, 4 Musical Languages of Worship.

I know the next word coming up without having to open my eyes and read the slide. Maybe it's a familiar song I've sung a hundred times before. This song comes alive in a new way for me right here, right now because I'm truly immersed in it. Even an old song becomes new when I'm offering it up in a new way. Eyes closed, alone with God and enjoying my time in the throne room, pouring out my broken heart to my loving Father, or singing out my thanks for the great things He has done for me. I don't have to think, I don't have to see, I just open up my heart and let Him fill it up.

How about you? Are you like me? Do you kiss and shower and worship with your eyes closed? Be sure to leave a comment at the end of this blog and let me know.