My brother passed away recently, and so I was been reflecting on that fact as I wrote this article.
The highest elevation, the very pinnacle of every experience is to be found in the praise and worship of God. Whether or not you believe that, it remains the truth. During this time of hectic preparation, with arrangements pressing down on me, I find that I long for respite from the grief that hangs so close.
John Eldridge has been criticized for stating in his book, Epic, that the cumulation of our salvation is that we get the kingdom back. That we don’t have to spend “ten thousand years singing”, but that we get to do the things we want to do such as paddling down the Amazon.
While I don’t entirely disagree with Mr. Eldridge, his point being that heaven will not be boring, but will be an eternal, exciting and fulfilling experience such as we cannot imagine, I believe that the most meaningful experience of paddling down the Amazon will be for the purpose of our praising and worshiping God. In other words, without praise and worship of God, all experiences of life quickly pale and lose meaning.
Take singing for example. One only needs to briefly peruse the psalms to see how every experience gains depth and meaning when attuned to the praise of God. Without God, the very best that we can sing about is sex. Without God all of our songs about the greatest experience given to men by God become completely devoid of all true meaning beyond that of cats in heat. Yet, the bible instructs us that sex has a context of worship. Why else do the prophets equate idolatry with adultery?
In our modern world, meditation has come in vogue among various denominations. However, the meditation we have adopted finds its roots in eastern mysticisms rather than the Hebrew understanding. Observing devout orthodox Jews at the wailing wall in Jerusalem, gives quite a different picture however. For the ancient psalmists, meditation was far more than a quiet mental exercise. Meditation required both spoken word and action. To meditate, it meant to vocalize the words, slowly, deliberately, pondering all the precious nuances of every phrase or word.
The psalmists even had a musical notation to insert in the psalms to indicate those places where deliberate meditation was particularly warranted. In your bible, in the book of psalms you will see this notation italicized as, ‘selah’. Some bibles will have a note indicating, ‘pause, and think of that!’ or similar interpretation. I find it interesting to note that David, was particularly fond of using that word. I picture him, reciting psalms, taking the time to provide an interlude to allow the listener to meditate on the words just sung or spoken.
And here, I find song to have its highest form, its greatest meaning, its deepest influence. It draws me into deep meaningful communication with God so that from my own mouth, however loud or soft flow praise and adoration. In deep biblical meditation, I find an Invitation. I am moved to the point of being transported into the Divine Presence.
For those who are truly ‘in Christ’, stepping into the Divine Presence should not be a strange experience.
Rather it should be a homecoming. A blissful stepping into that which is warm and real, familiar and lasting, a relief. Far from a fearful experience, a warm embrace whilst shedding all of the weight of the world. This is the privilege of praise and worship of which we need not wait.
My brother passed recently. He is, I know, more alive today than I ever knew him to be. Laughing, dancing, praising God, living the largest life; all of his fears forever banished. And I, am left to meditate. Pondering, taking the time to slowly, repeat the words of Psalm 104 to myself:
33 I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
for I rejoice in the LORD.