Bigger Plans and True Worship

Being a huge fan of The Walking Dead, you can imagine how happy I was when AMC had a three-day marathon of the show over the 4th of July weekend. I had forgotten about it until running across the second or third episode from the first season early that Friday morning. I grinned as I settled into my chair and prepared to watch as much of it as I could. Not too much later, a character said something that really struck me.

For those of you that don’t watch the show, I’ll summarize as concisely as I can for the purpose of this blog. A guy named Rick is in the hospital when the zombie apocalypse started. He wakes up, gets out, and finds that his wife and son have already left. Rick sets out to find them. He goes to Atlanta, and while there, he meets a group of people. They save him; he helps save them. They go back to the group’s camp, and it’s there that Rick is reunited with his family.

Later that night, Rick describes to the group what he felt when he woke up in the hospital. I don’t recall what word he says comes closest to describing it, but I do remember him saying how there’s not really a word that accurately and entirely fits the feeling. Then Dale, a member of the group listening to Rick, says that words are “paltry things.”

For whatever reason, that really struck me. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a writer, if it’s because it was so wonderfully phrased, or if it’s because it’s so true. But one thing’s for sure, Dale isn’t wrong. Sometimes words fail. Sometimes they’re just worthless.

When I showed up to church on Sunday morning and found out that there was just going to be worship and no sermon, I began to think about how plans can also be “paltry things.”

I could go on and on about the plans in my life that have failed or changed dramatically. I’m sure we all could. If you can’t relate, I’m very interested in talking to you because you’re probably the first person I’ve ever encountered whose life has gone perfectly according to what you have planned.

That’s just it, isn’t it? Our plans have the capacity to change and fail and ultimately lack meaning. God’s plans never do.

Adjusting to God’s dreams for my life instead of my own has been one of the most difficult parts in my relationship with Him. I get this vision of how I want things to go, and I build them up so much in my mind. I think it’s going to be excellent. Then God steps in and says, “Carrie, that’s actually not what’s best for you. It’s not happening.”

“What do you mean, God? Of course it’s the best thing for me. It’s the best thing period! Don’t You see it?”

The thing is, God does see it. The only difference is, He sees it from an objective point of view and a much broader point of view. He knows the other possibilities and the consequences. And He loves us enough to give us what’s really the best for us, no matter how much it might break our hearts at first.

You may recall that Abstract just recently started a sermon series called Idols. Last Sunday would have been the second of a four-part series. But it’s hard for a pastor to preach when he can barely talk. Hearing a sermon was part of our plans, but God had a better idea. Instead of hearing the sermon that God and our pastor have prepared, we spent the morning in worship.

If no one else needed a service full of worship, I certainly did. I needed it, and I didn’t even know it.

The significance of worship cannot be overstated. It’s how we show God that He is the most important thing in our lives.

Worship is a product of loving something a lot. I’m not talking about I-really-enjoy-this love or even holy-smokes-Batman, this-is-amazing love. It’s more along the lines of where-has-this-been-all-my-life, I-would-rather-die-than-live-without-this love. (Words really can be paltry, huh?)

Worship is great in theory, but it’s even better in practice. I’ve been in services where the preacher or worship leader said, “Okay. Let’s praise God and worship Him,” and I listen and praise God and enjoy myself. The experiences were good, but they didn’t exactly change my life. (That’s just me, though. By no means am I saying that those services weren’t moving and deeply meaningful for other people.)

I’ve also been in services, some with that exact same little intro, where I’ve felt the presence of God so strongly and I’ve been so moved by what I heard. Those experiences have stuck with me. Some of them took place years ago, and to this day, I could take you to the exact place where I stood with my hands held high to God and my heart completely captured by Him.

There is no better feeling than being completely lost in worship to God.

When I think of worship, the first thing I think of is a Bible verse that doesn’t even use the word “worship.” Psalm 42:1 (NRSV) says, “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.”

Isn’t that how we feel when we truly enter into worship? We aren’t satisfied with where we are with God. We want to grow closer to Him and feel more of His love. We know we need to be refreshed and refilled by Him. Not only is God a source of happiness and relief, but He’s also our source of life. It’s a moment when we realize just how much we need God.

And by worshipping, we express not only that we realize all of this, but we take a moment to thank God for being all of that for us.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I do something for someone, and they thank me for it, it feels fantastic, especially if it’s something that I worked hard on. It’s nice to hear that someone’s actually grateful for something I’ve done.

Imagine how happy it must make God for us to worship Him for everything that He’s done for us, especially in a world where people blame Him more than thank Him.

Maybe God’s done something really big for you lately. Maybe you’ve recently gotten a job or you’re car has been repaired or you’ve made a friend and you don’t feel lonely anymore. Don’t forget to take the time to really thank God for that blessing.

You don’t just have to thank Him for the big blessings either. Maybe you’re just happy that today wasn’t as bad as yesterday or you read or heard an encouraging word somewhere that you desperately needed. Then again, maybe you’re just having a really good hair day. If it’s a big enough of a deal to make you think about it or smile about, it’s big enough to thank God for.

Worship starts with love and ends in gratitude. Things may not be going the way you planned, but that doesn’t mean it’ll all end badly. God has better things in store for you. And that is certainly something to praise and worship Him for.

By Carrie Prevette

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