Stirred Affections

Worship often includes words and actions, but it goes beyond them to the focus of the mind and heart. Worship is the God-centered focus and response of the soul; it is being preoccupied with God… So, while I could nuance it at length, here’s my simple definition: Worship is focusing on and responding to God.

Donald S. Whitley, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

I have a confession to make. Even at just 28 years old, I’m kind of one of those stuffy, old guys who prefers hymns to more contemporary Christian music. Worship isn’t about me, and I know this. I don’t mean for to make my preference into an attempt at proclaiming myself holier or more hip than anyone else. I just find that hymns tend to stir my soul in a way that contemporary music doesn’t.

Years ago, my wife bought me a hymnal for my birthday. Often in my morning devotional time, I sing these hymns quietly in my office. I have favorites: Fairest Lord Jesus, Be Thou My Vision, Nothing But the Blood of Jesus, Be Still My Soul, I Will Sing of My Redeemer, and The Love of God is Greater Far, to name a few. These songs somehow plumb a depth within my heart that stills and quiets me. For me, this is worship. I have found the place where it is easy to focus on and respond to God.

But as I ask around, this kind of space is not preferable for all. Many people I know have other ways they seek out God. For some it’s nature—seeing the handiwork of God in the beauty of creation as they listen to the oceans roar, the canyons echo and the stars whisper. And I have brothers and sisters who like to build things. They image God the creator as they display their inherited creativity in art, carpentry, sculpting and lettering. Others play music (something I wish I had the skill for), cook, dance, and some write. There are many activities that bring the lens of our hearts into focus on its creator.

It is of major importance for believers to find what those activities are for them and fill their days with them. For you, it may not be cracking open a leather hymnal every morning to sing words written by fellow saints hundreds of years ago. But there’s something in you, a kind of rhythm your soul will recognize and respond to, and this is the thing for which we must all strive—not as a replacement for corporate worship (Hebrews 10:25), but as something deeply personal, something we can all take part in all the days of our lives.

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