In April I went to Colombia. It was a fantastic trip on ~100 different levels. One of the greatest things we got to do was take a river trip and attend church in one of the villages.
Let me set the scene for you. It was HOT.
- I was drenched all the time.
Not glistening, like summers in the South, y’all.
That’s attractive Ouiser.
There were signs everywhere warning of Malaria.
At night, electricity was available for a few hours. That meant I could charge my iPhone. Don’t judge, I used it for taking these photos. There were also few lightbulbs hung from the ceiling to chase away the darkness and attract the mosquitos. Gazillions of them. Is there a number bigger that a gazillion? Katrillion. Umptillion. Point is, they were all there.
Since there was power, that meant lights were on at the church, too. The services were 100% not in English. The believers did pretty much the same things we do at home. They sang, read the Bible, and someone shared a message. At the Saturday night service, I even got to share my testimony (Jeff translated for me).
When we go to church at home, I often run the media side of worship service. Confession: If there is a misspelled word, bad pagination on lyrics, or even punctuation out of place – it drives me crazy. Example: ‘parish’ when it should be ‘perish’. I saw that last weekend and it made my skin feel like it was on fire. I noticed it during the song , so I couldn’t fix it. It just stayed up there in 2 foot tall letters while we sang that particular verse in s l o w m o t i o nnnnn. Hence, the skin burning.
Know what else makes me loose focus during church services at home? A door opening and closing over and over again.Or a teenager falling asleep. Or my tummy rumbling. Or a choir member who doesn’t know the words. Or trying to find my Good Note Taking Pen. Or the fact that my toe-nail polish needs touching up.
When I was sharing my testimony in the village mosquitos were flying in my nose. Even at night, it was still face-of-the-sun hot. You don’t think I’m going to tell you that stuff faded away, do you? It wasn’t like the mosquitos suddenly stopped buzzing the tower (negative Ghost Rider, pattern is full). The A/C didn’t kick on. No one sang the Hallelujah chorus.
But, know what did happen? Every time we went to a service there, I knew God was with us. I felt His presence as real as the heat. It remains in my memory some of the most genuine times of worship I have ever experienced. In spite of the fact that I didn’t find the passage of scripture they were reading from, didn’t know the lyrics, and everyone clapped to their own willy-nilly drum. Me gusto mucho!
It was so awesome because for months I planned, prayed, and prepared to go on this trip. I went in the the jungle expecting God to be there. He was.
He’s here too. On my patio here in TN. At church even when my pen is out of ink. How different would every church service be if I expected Him? Regardless of the distractions. There still there. But I’m focused on Someone bigger. He’s powerful and dazzling and here!! What about you? Do you get distracted during service?
In the end, worship can never be a performance, something you’re pretending or putting on. It’s got to be an overflow of your heart….. Worship is about getting personal with God, drawing close to God. -Matt Redman