The last few months have been an interesting transition for me. Actually for both of us. Being on sabbatical is all about resting before returning to the fray, but this sabbatical has no return at the send of it. The occasional preaching engagement may arise, but overall that part of my ministry is probably never going to be as regular as it once was. We shall have to wait and see.
Then there's the question of where do we go to worship, what does it mean to worship, how will we contribute to worship as members of a congregation rather than as leaders? And so on. Finding a place is hard enough, but actually being able to, or more truthfully actually wanting to worship, is possibly the even greater challenge. It's not that I've fallen out of relationship with God, far from it. It's just that the wearying nature of what we've been through has just left me jaded and not that interested in the whole corporate worship model.
Somewhere in all of this is the balance between discipline, the positive act of choosing to worship, and desire, the emotional connection that makes intimate worship possible. Without the desire, worship is going to be dry, uninviting and formulaic. It will be a simple process of going through the motions. And yet, without disciple, worship becomes a feel-good factor and something in which I engage win I feel like it and not because God actually deserves and even demands my worship. If I truly believe the things I say when I preach, then worship is always an appropriate response to any and every situation.
So I'm trying to engage. I'm choosing to engage.
And here's the thing. As I discipline myself to worship, I found I begin to worship. I begin to get caught up in the wonder and awe of both knowing and being known. I was a little later than typical arriving at tennis this morning because I chose to worship. The song I wanted to use wasn't on my iPod, so I added it and listened to it as I walked to the club.
What I miss most, and in truth was denied in many ways over the last couple of years, was a sense of spontaneity in worship. Choosing my own time and choosing what I use is helping me re-emerge into a worshipping lifestyle. Letting a worship song wash over me (that's about the only way I can describe simply listening in an engaged sort of way) is both therapeutic and spiritually defining.
Perhaps this is how God is leading me beside still waters and refreshing my soul.