Excerpt from The Making Of An Ordinary Saint

Wor­ship is our human response to God’s divine initiative. 

Think of Isa­iah in the splen­dor of Solomon’s tem­ple, expe­ri­enc­ing the aston­ish­ing vision of the Lord high and lift­ed up. The tem­ple is filled with a myr­i­ad of angels fly­ing around and call­ing out to one anoth­er, Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glo­ry.” The foun­da­tions of the tem­ple begin to shake and the whole place is filled with heav­en­ly smoke. No won­der Isa­iah cries out, Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a peo­ple of unclean lips: yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”1

Or think of John on the bar­ren island of Pat­mos in the spir­it on the Lord’s day.”2 He hears a boom­ing voice like a trum­pet, and he sees sev­en gold­en lamp­stands with the res­ur­rect­ed Jesus in the mid­dle, clothed in a long robe with a gold­en sash. Jesus’s hair is like a bliz­zard of white, his eyes like a flame of fire, his feet like fur­nace-fired bronze, and his voice like the sound of many waters. He holds sev­en stars in his hand, out of his mouth comes a razor-sharp sword, and his face shines like the blaz­ing sun of noon­day. No won­der John fell at his feet as though dead.”3

What an explo­sion of super­nat­ur­al sound and col­or and image and ener­gy! Who wouldn’t fall to the ground in the face of such stag­ger­ing divine initiatives? 

But most of us must admit that these are not our nor­mal expe­ri­ences when we shuf­fle off to our local church. There the drums are too loud, the per­son next to us sings off-key, and we fight to stay awake through the ser­mon. Even when we wan­der into the mag­nif­i­cent gran­ite cathe­drals of nature, we strug­gle, for the sun is too hot and the mos­qui­toes bite. 

Our efforts at wor­ship cer­tain­ly seem rather ordi­nary when com­pared with Isa­iah and John. Per­haps we feel like we are stuck in the out­er court when every­one else has gone into the inner court and a select few have entered the holy of holies. Still, we should not despise our seem­ing­ly fee­ble efforts at wor­ship. God is with us. Who knows when the divine ini­tia­tive may come to fan the coals of our wor­ship into a burn­ing blaze? George Fox coun­seled, Meet togeth­er in the Name of Jesus… he is your prophet, your shep­herd, your bish­op, your priest, in the midst of you, to open to you, and to sanc­ti­fy you, and to feed you with life, and to quick­en you with life.”4

So whether our wor­ship expe­ri­ence is of the fire­works vari­ety of Isa­iah and John or of a more ordi­nary kind, we can all fol­low the wise coun­sel of the apos­tle Paul: Let the word of Christ dwell in you rich­ly; teach and admon­ish one anoth­er in all wis­dom; and with grat­i­tude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spir­i­tu­al songs to God.”5 Then, in the pres­ence of God the prayer of our hearts can be sim­ply, Set my spir­it free, that I may wor­ship Thee.”

Fos­ter, Nathan. The Mak­ing of an Ordi­nary Saint: My Jour­ney from Frus­tra­tion to Joy with the Spir­i­tu­al Dis­ci­plines. Bak­er Pub­lish­ing Group. 

For each chap­ter in Nathan’s book, Richard Fos­ter writes an intro­duc­to­ry essay — like this one from the chap­ter on Worship.

[1] Isa­iah 6:3, 5.
[2] Rev­e­la­tion 1:10
[3] Rev­e­la­tion 1: 17
[4] George Fox, CCLXXXVI­II: To Friends in Car­oli­na,” A Col­lec­tion of Many Select and Chris­t­ian Epis­tles, Let­ters and Tes­ti­monies, Writ­ten on Sundry Occa­sions, by That Ancient, Emi­nent, Faith­ful Friend and Min­is­ter of Christ Jesus, George Fox, vol. 8 of The Works of George Fox (Philadel­phia: Mar­cus T. C. Gould, 1831), 37.
[5] Colos­sians 316.

We’re glad you’re here!

Help­ing peo­ple like you abide with Jesus is why we post resources like this one. Always ad-free, Ren­o­varé is sup­port­ed by those who know soul-care is vital. Would you join us?

Donate >