Earlier this year I wrote about a transformational change in my prayer life. You can read about that by clicking here. Then I had a second profound experience in the garden which you can read about here.

In the weeks that have followed my worship time has continued to transform as a direct result of the garden. While the prayer transformation was welcomed and nothing but positive, the worship transformation has sometimes left me feeling a bit vulnerable and awkward. So, I thought I would share with you what's going on in greater detail so that you can either: a. Join me or b. Not commit me if you happen to see me at church.

The time at church where we sing has not always been a time of fulfillment for me. Growing up with the old hymns in a small sanctuary I never really felt moved by the spirit or extremely 'woshipful' during the worship service. Yes, some of the songs were beautiful, and many of them spoke to my heart. I still cannot hear Amazing Grace or The Old Rugged Cross without feeling something deep within me respond, but the fact of the matter is, I am not a great singer. Primarily I spent my time trying to insure that my volume was low enough so as not to offend God or my fellow pew mates. Pepper that with a bit of envy, and trying to track down the voices that were singing out quite beautifully, and I rarely had time to really connect with God during worship.

When I returned to church as an adult, it was to a very large church in Atlanta. Suddenly there was a sound system and dark lighting – both of which freed me to crank up the volume without fearing offense. I could close my eyes, move with the music, and often times I would picture Jesus in front of me and really try to sing at him…to him…with him. This opened up a whole new world where the worship time at church really became about worship. I really was singing the songs to Him – and the songs were different. They were actually reflective of the praise I would give to him about how he had freed me and released me from the bonds that had held me down for so long. I was really feeling it. I thought.

And then I started praying in the garden.

And then I went to church. I closed my eyes to enjoy my worship -and suddenly found myself in my prayer garden with Jesus.

And then Jesus smiled at me.

You want to feel joy? Go sing to Jesus in the garden with a heart full of love and see him see you. You'll look like a blooming idiot to passers by, but you might not ever smile so big in your life.

And then He asked me to dance.

Now listen I grew up in a Baptist church and the movie, Footloose, was one of the run away hits of my youth. Despite that I have danced a lot in life, but I had never even thought about dancing with Jesus. Yet now, if you find me swaying this Sunday with a big goofy grin, be assured me and Jesus are dancing as I pour out my love for him.

It's not always dancing though, sometimes he just listens. I pour out the fear and pain and he just listens with great love. I weep from the tenderness with which he listens.

Greg plays in our church band and occasionally he sings or has a guitar solo and when that happens I get to stand by Jesus and enjoy this incredibly talented man. I lean over and say, “Thank you.” He leans into me and smiles knowingly.

It's a beautiful, fulfilling, amazing thing. And, at times, a little uncomfortable. It has become pretty much involuntary at this point….if I close my eyes and free my mind, I am going to be in the garden. I love it, but at the same time there is a part of me that is very much sitting at church with a bunch of other people and it can get a little awkward.

So God decided to talk to me one day about those who are sitting around me….and anyone who may ever sit around me.

I was in the garden and I was truly worshipping Jesus. I was really there. Then, other people started showing up. Soon I found myself on a very crowded praise floor and to be honest with you I was a bit taken aback. I liked being alone with Jesus and my very pure feelings. Other people intruded on my feeling of safety. Suddenly I was too self aware, too taken out of the moment, and too concerned with how these other people may feel about how I was conducting myself. And it was in that vulnerability that I learned something I now believe to be very, very true.

Jesus said to me –

“You know how purely your praise is of me, and your love is for me?”

“You know how purely I love you, and how unencumbered that love is?”

“One day that is how you all will love each other.”

And I could feel it. I could feel what it would be like to live in that kind of love – for just a moment. And it is my mission, to live in that love as much as I possibly can from now on.

So if ever you find yourself near me at church and it seems as if I'm somewhere else….I probably am.

This is very much a picture of my 'garden'
Actually more an enchanted forest where my heart lives…and where I dance.

 

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