Worship like the Deaf
I found the Lord in September, 2012. I was 29 years old. When I born again I fell in love with God. I could not get enough of the newness of things I was experiencing. I loved reading my Bible, I loved listening to messages, and I loved listening to music about God. Unfortunately, it took a little while to love singing to God.
It wasn’t until October of 2012, one month after being born again, that I attended a church service for the first time as an adult. This service was full of a spirit of worship. There were hundreds of people at this service. There was a full band, a dozen singers, a light show, and videos to go along with the songs. I thought I was going to church, but I ended up at a concert.
I wasn’t upset, I love music. I love listening to music that is. I play guitar, and have been to hundreds of concerts, but I had never been to one where the purpose was to worship the Lord. I was unsure what to do. As the concert started, and the worship leader began to ask people to sing to the Lord, and also to raise their arms in the air to worship God, I was very hesitant.
I had never openly worshipped the Lord before. I did not desire to start that night either, so instead of raising my arms, I dug my fingernails into the seat in front of me and I didn’t sing out one word. I was completely defiant. I really felt it was unnecessary for me to do those things to honor God. I did not see the point. Worshipping the Lord that way made me uncomfortable. Even though I was uncomfortable during worship, I continued to go these services, and I continued to dig my fingernails into the seat in front of me.
In November of that year they played the song “Our God” by Chris Tomlin to close out service. It didn’t inspire me too much. I honestly didn’t even know who Chris Tomlin was at that point because I was very new to everything about Christianity. I had no idea who the popular pastors, singers, or evangelists of the time were.
The next day at work I couldn’t get this song out of my head. It was all I could think about. I had never thought about a song in the way I was thinking about this one. When I got on a break at work I used the internet to search for the artist and name of the song that was stuck in my head by typing out these lyrics.
“Our god is greater, Our God is Stronger, and Our God is Higher than any other”
That’s when I saw Christ Tomlin’s name for the first time. I quickly went to another site to listen to the song. It was wonderful. When I got off work I put in my headphones and listened to that song on repeat during my 40 minute drive home. I couldn’t get enough of this song.
That week at church, they played “Our God” again, and this time was different. I felt for the first time a presence of God in the room. Listening to this song was different than the time I had heard it before. I was inspired by the song this time. I was inspired to lift up my hands, and start singing to God!
“Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, LORD.” Psalm 89:15
During that moment I was so happy! My ears heard the call to come worship the Lord when I hear “Our God” on repeat in my head, and when I worshipped with others at church, the light of the presence of God was shown on me. God humbled me by shining a light on all the darkness I had against praise. I was thankful He did expose my darkness because it opened up an entirely new experience for my worship life.
My praise life picked up quite a bit after that, I began to enjoy worship more and more. I never wanted to be late to church, because I didn’t want to miss a song. I started sitting up front at church, and felt the presence of the Lord increase. Every service I started to share my happiness with the Lord that He was letting me walk in His presence!
I moved churches in Oct. 2013, and the worship part of service was extremely different. They sang mostly hymns, only had a piano playing, and just one man leading worship with singing. I was again, uninspired by the songs, but because I was little further in my walk at that point, I still happily sung them, raised my hands, and dance to glorify God (Psalm 149:3).
After all, worship wasn’t about the wonderful feeling I got when I was in a room full of people lifting up their hands to the Lord. Worship was about the wonderful feeling God gets when He sees me lifting up my hands towards Him!
My worship life continued like this for a while, but I have recently found myself at another darkness exposing moment. I saw Chris Tomlin in concert for the first time in March 2015. I had never paid to go to a Christian concert before. I took my wife as her birthday present, Chris Tomlin is her favorite. I was excited to see a gathering of Christians worshipping the Lord, but was more excited to feel that wonderful feeling of happiness I get when I praise the Lord in that setting.
The concert was wonderful, we talked to our seat neighbors, everyone had their hands in the air towards God, and at one point we even put our arms around each other. These were all things I had never experienced 7000 people in a room do together. I was pumped up in the presence of the Lord!
Chris Tomlin played many of the songs off his new album “Love Ran Red”, but also played many older songs including “Our God”. Right before they started to play this song the lights went dark, except for one spotlight, and it wasn’t over the stage. It was a light over a section in the balcony. I saw two people dressed in black with their backs to the stage. In front of them was a television monitor that had a video feed from the stage.
I was curious what was happening, but there was no mention of why the light stayed on. Chris and his band began to play “Our God”, but instead of finally being able to sing this song with 7,000 people including the person who wrote it all I could think about was what was going on in the balcony. As the band played, I realized what was happening.
That section was a special section for the hearing/visually impaired. The people with their backs to the stage were providing sign language to the people sitting in that section. I was instantly humbled.
My thoughts immediately went to how cool it was that they came to the concert, even though they couldn’t hear the songs being played. I thought how incredible it was that they paid to come to the same show I did, knowing that their impairments were needed to see the show and hear the songs. I thought it was so cool, that they didn’t care about those things because they just wanted to experience the presence of the Lord.
My next thought was, “I need to improve how I worship the Lord”. I could hardly hear the words to “Our God” because I was being convicted in my heart about my darkness. I had been singing, and believing worship was necessary, but God was using my song that led me to worship Him to shine a light on the fact that I wasn’t done growing in this area.
“Surely righteous people are praising your name; the godly will live in your presence.” Psalm 140:13
I was being righteous by praising God’s name, but I was not being Godly because I was not living in the presence of God!
We were made to worship God, and I had taken worship to mean singing to the Lord. I believed my sacrifices of Bible reading times, and being at church all the time were enough to satisfy the Lord. However, I do not live in the presence of God because to do that I would have to lay down all my desires and give them to God. I have not given all my desires to God yet.
I was inspired by the deaf people that attended the concert because I know they probably desire to hear, maybe even more than I’ll desire to do anything in life. Yet, they laid down those desires at the feet of the Lord and came and worshipped Him regardless of their disabilities! They were living in the presence of God.
This is now something I aspire to do in my life. I hope to release the desire for things that keep me from worshipping the Lord enough, like money, my wife, or our possessions. God is so good to His people, and just like He put a song in my head to get me understand worship, He has taken a song out of my head to help me understand the depths of worship!
I am grateful at the times I am humbled by God because they are usually followed by great change. I want to be changed because I now realize I should desire to be a better friend, husband, and Godly worshipper more than I desire to be rich, well liked, or entertained. I am going to try and drop those things at the feet of the Lord, and my faith will stand firm behind the changes He will make in my life.
My prayer today, is that all believers desire not just to praise God’s name, but to live in His presence by worshipping Him with our actions regardless of our situations. I have seen deaf people sing to the Lord, and I know that I would not be so inclined. I need to make changes to see God’s presence inhabit my life. I pray we all desire to make those changes.
I pray we all desire to live like we’re deaf.