Funerals and worship came together for me on a trail southeast of our town last Saturday. It was intentional, and it was good.
In order for that to make sense, you need to know how I feel about funerals. I don’t like them, but I don’t dread them – in fact, in some ways I treasure them. Grief has not been a stranger to me, and I’ve seen God meet me there many times in my life, in unforgettable and powerful ways. The Bible talks a lot about grief and death, and Jesus went to funerals. I look forward to the opportunity to help others find His presence and His comfort as they start the grief journey. I consider each invitation a privilege.
That privilege begins with a meeting with the family a few days before a funeral. I always ask this question of the people planning the service: “When you brag about your deceased loved one, what words do you use?” Tear-filled eyes usually brighten at that point, as they begin to share good memories and describe the virtues of the person they have lost.
I’d had such a meeting a couple of days before the hike, which may explain why that question came to me as I walked. But I didn’t ask it about someone I had lost. I asked it about the One with whom I was walking. When I want to brag about my God, what words do I use?
The answers to that question led to a sweet time of worship. Here are a few examples:
“I can’t get over how patient You are with me. I know how I’ve failed You this week, how I’ve fallen short of Your holiness, and yet here we are, spending the morning together. You know me to the core, and You welcome me anyway. That’s amazing.”
“You allowed death to give you its best shot, and You left it in the dust of the empty tomb. You beat up the bully on the playground. No one – NO ONE – is more powerful than You!”
“You love me enough to bleed for me, to take my sin and give me Your perfection in its place. I didn’t earn that – I could NEVER earn that. You just give it to me because that’s who You are.”
That hike was a timely reminder that worship is not very complicated. At its core, worshipful prayer is simply bragging about God, to God. It can happen in all kinds of places, in planned or unexpected moments. It takes our eyes off of ourselves and our problems, and puts them where they belong, on God and His goodness.
It puts into practice some of the best advice ever written: “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil 4:8).
So … what about you? When you want to brag about God, what words do you use?
Tear-filled eyes may be involved, but in this case, the tears aren’t there because we miss the person that we’re bragging about.
The tears are there because we are so glad to be with Him.
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