“In one moment we find ourselves rejoicing in the dance, arms raised with heads lifted high. In the next we are bowed low, not because someone suggested it would be an appropriate response, but because the fear of God has filled the room.” – Bill Johnson
Here’s a story: King David made a mistake (he made quite a few of them I’ve noticed). There was a consequence to this mistake and lots of people were dying. You can read about it in 1 Chronicles 21. There’s this huge angel waiting to destroy Jerusalem and it stops at a bit of land owned by a guy called Araunah the Jebusite. David realises his mistake and gets instruction from a prophet to go and build an altar on the land where the angel has stopped. Simple. When David gets to the land, he offers to pay it in full. However, Araunah says that David can have it for free! Not just that – the king can have whatever he likes for the offering too… oxen, threshing-sledges (lucky Dave) and wheat… whatever he needs! David’s response is remarkable: “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that cost me nothing.“
I will not offer something that has cost me nothing.
What does a life of #allin worship look like? It involves cost. David was not prepared to bring something before the Lord that had not cost him. Throughout Scripture we see other people doing the same:
- Abraham obediently takes his promised son (the son on which all the other promises stood) to offer him to God as he realised that worshipping God was a bigger priority than pursuing the promises that he had received. He was willing to give it all (Hebrews 11:17-19).
- Joshua lingers in the presence of God, long after Moses has left, sacrificing his time to be with his Creator (Exodus 33:11).
- David dances and leaps (pretty much in his underwear) before the ark of the Lord in such an undignified manner that it offends one of his wives (2 Samuel 6:14-16).
- A woman comes to Jesus with a bottle of an incredibly expensive perfume, pours it all over Him and wipes His feet with her tears… much to the scorn of the onlookers that label the act as an extravagant waste.
Whether it is family, promises, time, prestige or expensive gifts, the Bible is full of examples of extravagant displays of worship. Worship is more than singing. It is more than Sunday morning. There is something about the presence of God which draws people in to a place of wholehearted abandonment. There is an invitation to go deeper, to go further, no matter the cost.
Psalm 73:25-26 contains such a simple yet incomprehensible statement, which the band Loud Harp summed up in their song ‘The Nearness of You': “My flesh, my heart my fail – whom have I but You?” WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?! What a stupid, stupid, stupid, ridiculous thing to say. Yet it has captivated my heart. My flesh – my very body – may fail! My heart – that vitally important organ pumping that vitally important liquid around my vitally important body – may fail! But God is my strength. He is my portion. Whom do I have but Him? Essentially, I may well be dead, but God is more than enough. He is everything. More than being alive. Where else would I go? Ridiculous. Yet captivating.
#allin or nothing.
I began 2014 with a desire to explore what would life look like to go #allin. I knew there was something more than my current level of thinking; I knew there was something more than what I was experiencing. Is this desire not the foundation of what the Psalmist is talking about? Moment by moment I’ve glimpsed it. I don’t even think I am close to knowing it. I don’t think I am close at all. But there is something drawing me in… I have to dance and I don’t care what I look like. I have to let go and I have to flail and move around to the rhythm of His heart. I must give Him everything I can. I have to bow down. I have to lay before the Creator of the entire universe and not know if I’ll get up. I have to shout. I have to laugh. I have to cry. I have to give everything I physically can and I know there are consequences. I know people have looked at me and said I look ridiculous. I’ve heard people say that I’m over emotional. I’ve felt the disdain and the embarrassment when people say my laughing or crying is stupid. I’ve poured out, I’ve exhausted myself. In public, in private… something has captured my heart and I cannot turn back. I am desperate for a life of #allin worship.
The Heart Response.
The truth is that the physical is just a fraction of what I could offer in my heart. All the examples above only happened because of an initial heart response. Indeed, it’s easy to the do the physical out of compulsion, out of obligation, out of routine. This is not my intention. I don’t care if you laugh or cry. I don’t care if you sing loud or dance wild. I don’t care if you kneel or raise your hand. David would not give to the Lord something that belonged to someone else. Your journey will look different. It will cost in different ways. I don’t care what your extravagant expression will look like. All I care about is the invitation from the most loving of Dads who created every single thing and actually holds us together right now. He is inviting us to join in the great dance: Father, Son, Holy Spirit and you. He says that we are significant to the point where He gave Himself for us. He gave everything so He could be united with us forever. It is from that place that I have to give everything. I have to go #allin. Nothing else can satisfy.
There have been times where I don’t want to worship. I’ve lived in hopelessness. I’ve lived in the place of no dreams. I’ve lived in the place of loneliness. I’ve not seen healing in my life or the life of my family. People around me have gone through devastation. I’ve cried out for the promises God has spoken over my life yet still lived in emptiness. Sometimes when they’ve come, they’ve disappeared just as quickly. I’ve not been able to pay the bills. I’ve had an empty house and an empty heart. I’ve feared the consequences of giving everything. I’ve worshipped when I’ve not felt anything. I’ve had more reasons that I don’t want to worship than fingers to count. But His extravagant love is so clearly displayed in Jesus and Him crucified that I have to keep making the choice. This is the heart of worship. There is a cost. It demands everything. It demands an extravagant response. It demands #allin worship. It demands our whole hearts. But it is oh so worth it.
“I’m coming to You with a bottle of perfume / and I will pour it out no matter what the cost.”
Will you go the distance?
Will you take the plunge?
Will you jump?
Will you give everything?
Will you risk your life, what people think of you, your material possessions?
Will you let go of fear and abandon your whole heart?
Will you be reckless?
Will you go #allin?
Will you go #allin in the pain of life?
Will you go #allin in the abundance of His graceful provision?
My flesh, my heart may fail – whom have I but You?
I believe that this blog concludes the #allin series. Maybe I started where I finished, but my heart is forever changed. If you’d like to read a few other moments from this adventure that will last a lifetime then please follow these links: