This is hard to write. It’s hard because I feel myself immediately pulled in two directions: discuss worship itself—like how we’re all innately wired to worship and how we so frequently direct our worship to creation rather than the Creator—or instead just share some of my personal, sometimes painful, journey with worship. Today I’ll choose the latter.
God has used one of the things I hate most to teach me about true worship.
I’ve always hated waiting. My dad is one of those people who takes joy in finding a way around lines, discovering unused shortcuts or somehow increasing the efficiency of things. Both of my parents were brought up under the adage, “Time is money,” so from an early age I gathered that waiting is a vice, not a virtue. Subtle “truths” that accompanied this mindset were that I shouldn’t have to wait on things, and that it’s up to me to change my circumstances to avoid waiting.
I happily embraced those “truths” and carried them with me into my adult life. I relied on myself and believed I was in control. I mistook God’s blessings in my life for evidence to support my own perceived self-sufficiency. But my merciful Father lovingly did what I needed most . . . he opened my eyes to the lies I was living in and wrecked me.
It didn’t come at once like a tidal wave. Instead, it was a steady rain—with moments of breaking sunlight and others of blinding torrents.
I’ve had to wait in the seemingly mundane things like sitting in traffic or waiting for a delayed plane with three kids in tow or even just trying to carry laundry baskets upstairs behind an 18 month old. I’ve also experienced significant, desperate seasons of waiting. No matter what the circumstance, waiting always exposes my heart and desire for control and my true lack of it.
For Andrew and I the steadiest downpour in this season of waiting has come in the form of financial dependence.
God first began to reshape my view of money when he prompted me to quit my first full-time job out of grad school. I had placed so much value on my title and found so much of my self-worth in my accomplishments! God was tenderly peeling that away.
I worried about how we would pay our bills, but underneath that worry was dread. It scared me to death to let go of the control I thought I held. Could I really just depend on God? Wasn’t there a lot I should do to make things happen?
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. —Psalm 37:7
God exposed my wicked heart and unhealthy thinking about money. I used to turn to it for comfort. I believed we needed it to be okay. I believed we were more valuable if we could earn a lot of it. I was embarrassed when we didn’t have a lot of it. I was not generous with it. I looked to Jesus for more of it, focusing on what I wanted from his hand, instead of looking at his face and falling down in worship of him. So what did this Just, Holy, Righteous Creator of the universe do in response to my clear idolatry? He died for me. He took off my filthy, tattered, adulterous clothes and covered me in his robes of righteousness!
We saw the Lord provide in innumerable ways. I got to taste and see that he is good and that he keeps his promises. More of me was graciously being replaced by more of Jesus. It was God’s mercy that allowed us to have to rely on him for our daily bread. All too often I returned again to my anemic self-reliance . . . only to be mercifully reminded of the riches of the glorious feast found in Jesus!
I slowly adapted to my new role and loved being home with little Eli. Then we found out he would be a big brother! We sat excitedly in the doctor’s office, waiting to show Eli his baby brother or sister on the monitor screen. But they couldn’t find a heart beat. We saw the tiny baby there, still and silent, and everything inside me screamed for control. We waited and prayed, but the next ultrasound confirmed it.
I went home to await the inevitable, carrying both a toddler and palpable grief.We were terrified the day it happened. I focused on the physical pain and questions about whether to go to the hospital, but what frightened me the most was the sense that something else was dying. I was dying to myself and my facade of control.
In that moment I felt at peace—unexplainable, permeating peace. Right in the middle of that torrential downpour. I was never alone and God was stirring worship in me, even in our suffering, by displaying his faithfulness and reminding me of his sovereignty.
We processed the loss of our child with time, talking, and lots of the gospel.
Life never stopped during our grief, though at times it seemed like it should. In the four years since then, we have welcomed two new babies. We’ve experienced new challenges. And we have many more examples of God asking us to wait. We’ve learned to see how loving “No” or “Not yet” can be.
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. —Psalm 37:5
He has led me further out on the waters than I ever imagined, showing me each step of the way that he is good, that he can be trusted, and that he is for his own glory and my ultimate joy. As God mercifully sanctifies me, I have a deeper understanding of his character that helps me see just how finite and completely dependent I truly am. Knowing God in this way stirs up real worship.
Whatever it is that he is calling you to wait on—a job, a spouse, a child, your next electric bill—turn to Jesus and find much deeper fulfillment than those things alone could ever bring!
I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. —Psalm 34:3-5
I can praise God for that little life that we lost and how he used it to increase my dependence on him, bringing me greater degrees of freedom. I can thank him for the pink disconnection notices and overdue bills, because he was showing me that I was running to the wrong things for peace and protection. God has been freeing me from fear. He has lovingly called me out from under the broken, hole-riddled umbrella of self-sufficiency I had been cowering under, to stand, face toward the sky, arms out, worshiping through the downpour.
Myra Dempsey lives in the Columbus, Ohio area with her husband, Andrew, and their 3 children, Eli (5), Esther (3) and Gideon (1). Myra works part-time as a Licensed Professional Counselor and School Psychology Assistant. She blogs at dependentongrace.com, contributes to the blog for her home church, at vineyardgrace.org, and has been blessed to be the keynote speaker at the iAm conference in Powell, Ohio, an event for teen girls. She loves reading, writing, and talking about God’s glorious grace!
Adapted from dependentongrace.com.