A shift of the camera, this is all, and the blossoms are transformed. A slight turn so the light shines full on the petals, letting them be what they were meant to be, exquisite reflectors of the glory of their Maker.
And I see the shift that similarly transforms us. It’s posted again on my bathroom mirror where it has been for months when it’s not being moved to the kitchen table or the chair by my bed or to my purse, each line becoming a prayer. Do this in me, Abba. Teach me to open my heart to your love. Purify my imagination, these worries and fears, by the beauty of who you are. May my whole life, not just my words, worship you!
Do you want to read them, these words that are shaping me these months? Slow down. Savor each line, each a whole book begging to be written, a whole life begging to be read. Each a bit of truth that sets me free.
“Worship is the submission of all our nature to God.
It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness;
the nourishment of mind with His truth;
the purifying of the imagination by His beauty;
the opening of the heart to His love;
the surrender of will to His purpose –
and all of this gathered up in adoration,
the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable,
and therefore the chief remedy of that self-centeredness
which is our original sin
and the source of all actual sin.”
(Archbishop William Temple, 1881-1944)
I see this transformation in the life of a young friend who, as I write, is having her second surgery for brain cancer. Which of us, the night before brain surgery for a recurrent tumor, writes like this? “. . . So be excited for me friends! Be excited that Jesus has me on a journey that leaves me no choice but to cling to Him with all my strength. . . .” Only one whose imagination is being purified by God’s beauty. One who opens, day by day, her fearful heart to His love. One who longs that her whole life be worship, all her being surrendered to God. (Check out the rest of Christina’s update here. . . or read another bit of her story of God’s amazing strength in weakness here).
And here is grace. Worship is not something we put on, like a happy face or uplifted arms when we're crying inside. True worship means bringing every part of ourselves, our hopes and fears and dreams and brokenness, into the light. It means recognizing that we're made to reflect God's glory, and turning ourselves to face him. Worship is not offering something we're not. It's offering all of who we are. And here is the wonder: this, this, is what God seeks! Not perfection. Just us. Just as we are.
“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. (John 4:23, The Message)
And this is why coming weak is worship: It's in our surrender of our brokenness, our turning to face the light, that the Light is truly seen in all its transformative power. It's when we come cracked, even shattered, that the Truth at the center of the universe is shown for what it is. Passionate, powerful, healing Love.
". . . we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves." (2 Corinthians 4:7, New Living Translation)