The Art of Solitude
Elgin: Pages rustled as ink hit books and poured words, sentences and quotes onto paper to be saved for later. Legs crossed, eyes forward, we listened, searching for more truth to weave into the story we all shared. Two thousand of us were seated, expectant, in this room. Prayers were heard as the sound of voices rose. Languages mingled together as two thousand of us lifted our requests to Jesus Christ. I felt the utter privilege of the moment, the gift of coming together with my brothers and sisters and praying to a God who is alive and at work in us today.
Grand Rapids: Lights were flashing. My chest was pounding with the recurring, systematic pounding that filled the room. Hundreds of people around me blended into the movement, casting black, then purple, then golden shadows against the walls of the room. Two screens plashed the light from changing lyrics onto our faces. People danced. The drumbeat continued. It was a party of people who were once orphans. A concert ensuing from a victory we had not earned.
Don’t ever underestimate the power of an open Bible and an open heart in a closed room.
Last month was a month where quite a few exciting things happened. Besides the fact that pumpkin donuts came back in season, fall definitely made itself known, and I finally got to start wearing scarves again, I had the opportunity to go to Elgin for the Harvest University conference. Two thousand of us came together from different states and countries to learn more about God and tell what He has been doing around the world.
At the beginning of this month I had to the opportunity to go to the last concert on Kari Jobe’s Majestic tour. To say it was a great experience and a night full of fun would be a massive understatement. The beauty of the night was that, once again, several thousand people crammed into the sanctuary of Sunshine Church in Grand Rapids and together, created a throne of worship for our God.
Although both of these experiences were not related to each other, I found myself drawing several ties between them.
Throughout the worship sessions I attended in Elgin, as well as what Kari Jobe said at her concert, this recurring truth was pounded into my head: worship starts in the heart of a follower of Jesus Christ, not on the stage. The art of worship is made real through solitude with Jesus.
For me, it’s easy to relax into the thought that we can turn worship on and off. But honestly, the moment I walk onto the stage at church or pick up the mic to sing for our middle schoolers should not be the moment I “turn on” my worship. My worship of God should start the moment my feet hit the floor in the morning, the second I open my eyes and realize I have another day to live for God.
This lifestyle of worship was talked about quite a bit during one of the sessions I attended in Elgin. Titled “The Public and Private Worship Leader,” it was ironic to sit down and hear Andi Rozier (one of the speakers for the conference sessions) say from the get go, there is no such thing as a public worshiper.
I could have thought, Well there goes half of the session!, and packed up my notes.
But that’s just the point:
“There is no secret to worship leading except the private place and if you spend time there.” Again, truthful words from Andi.
In all honesty, we have to be the private worshiper of Jesus Christ before we ever try to be the public worship leader. We must be able to worship in our solitary moments with Him, our secret time.
This has been a very tangible truth to me as I’ve found that my time of private focus on God has led to the most God-focused public worship.
When I’ve prayed for my thoughts to be aligned with God’s, lived my earthly, 24 hour day around striving towards an eternal focus, and relaxed in the enjoyment of Jesus Christ’s love…I’ve found that by then, walking into a worship service, a concert, or onto a stage…worship isn’t just an experience or something to lead anymore. It’s a celebration.
When my worship starts with my heart tuned towards God, I can celebrate with my other brothers and sisters over what Jesus has done. I can praise God for what He has promised He will do. I don’t have to worry what people around me are thinking, because I know what God thinks of me. I’ve felt His personal love for me. I’ve stopped trying to definemyself and let Him define me. He’s changed my focus to the eternal things and so that I’m ready to build Him a throne of unconstrained praise.
The public worshiper starts in the secret place, where the public praise of Jesus Christ is only seen because the private love of God is shown.
In the silence of the heart You speak
and it is there that I will know You
and You will know me
You satisfy me till I am quiet and confident
In the work of the Spirit I cannot see
In the silence of the heart You speak.