Sunday, July 18, 2010

Heart-WRENching Worship

My first act of worship on a recent Sunday morning was to take a cup of coffee out on my back deck and sit in the quiet and relative coolness of the early morning hour. Peace beyond measure surrounded me, and I basked in it as a nearby wren poured its heart out in song, over and over again. Its countless repetitions intrigued me to the point that I began timing its bursts of beauty, and soon realized that it was sounding at the rate of fifteen times per minute, or once every four seconds! At that rate surely it was filling its lungs only to exhale in song.

I laughed as I looked down at the design on the old t-shirt I had pulled on that morning.On a white background was a picture of a coffee cup surrounded by the words from Psalm 5:3, "Morning by morning, You hear my voice." Clearly the wren was illustrating what God desired from me that day.

In the many years that I've sat on my back deck, I've learned to identify various bird species by their characteristic birdcalls. But the wren attracts my attention like none other. While other birds may call, when the wren opens its beak there's an explosion of sound too big to possibly emanate from the little bird that releases it. The bird seems to pour out its joy of living into that one long burst of melody, and then repeats it again and again as if incessantly prompted by a heart of gratitude and love.

Oh that God would hear that from me on such a regular basis! Morning by morning, he hears my voice alright... but it's not always such a delight to listen to. Sometimes I squawk my complaints or cry over an injustice or simply call for help to arrive in a hurry. On other mornings my prayers are as silent as the quiet grunts of the nuthatch that scrambles up and down the tree trunks in search of a few seeds spilled from the feeders. And God does want us to come to Him with whatever is on our hearts each day. But how it must please Him to hear something other than a whine or a plea of some kind on occasion! What if my mornings were filled with fewer birdcalls and more bird song... if I worshipped more than I asked for a change?

Not coincidentally I happened to pull a Casting Crowns CD from the storage compartment in my car this week and smiled as the lyrics to Lifesong joined with these thoughts floating around in my head, about living life in such a way that our words and actions sing a song that pleases the Father. Although I don't get to watch much evening television, I recently caught an episode of "America's Got Talent" that featured two girls out of a family of four siblings, all of whom suffer from cystic fibrosis, an inherited chronic disease that among other things clogs the lungs with mucous and makes it hard to breathe, let alone sing. Yet that's what these two girls love to do. They know that even with recent medical advances the life expectancy for people with this disease is in the 30's , and yet they've vowed to use what time they have to inspire others to pursue their dreams despite the obstacles they face and to live life to the fullest as long as they possibly can. And so they sing. And their absolute joy in doing so combined with the simple beauty of their voices moved me to tears, the audience to its feet, and the judges to vote them on to the next round in the competition.

Coffee finished, I moved on with my morning that Sunday. I walked up the driveway to get the newspaper and heard the wren still singing away. I filled the birdfeeders accompanied by its song. I laughingly wondered to myself how that bird would have time to do all its budgie duties - catching bugs, building nests and raising its young. And suddenly I realized that singing its joy was its duty, and that it simply sang all day long as it lived out the life it's been given. Too often we think of "worship" as just the music portion of a church service. God doesn't. To Him the worship portion of our day never ends - our lives are singing something to Him as we pursue all of our daily activities.

The TV show title is right - we've all got talent of one type or another, because the Bible says that we've all been given giftings unique to our personalities, callings, and life situations. May we resolve to use them out of our love for God in such a way that makes a difference in the lives of others, moves the heart of the Judge, and sends us rejoicing into the next "Round"!

"Oh, bless our God, you peoples! And make the voice of His praise to be heard. "
(Psalm 66:8 NKJV)

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