Many years ago, I visited a close friend after her first child was born. This was well before I had Thomas, so the baby routine was completely foreign to me. In all the baby accoutrements, I noticed a book of prayers for little ones. After retiring to the guest room for the night, I read through some of the prayers in this book. A couple of them struck me so much that I wrote them down. I came across the note today and was struck yet again.
Sometimes people praise you
With hands that reach up high.
And sometimes people praise you
With heads turned to the sky.
But I will simply praise you
In my own special way
By trying just to be your child
Today and every day.
–My First Read and Learn Book of Prayers
Every time I read that poem, I am reminded that the most profound act of worship is to simply belong to Jesus. After working in ministry, I get so caught up in doing stuff. I fall prey to the idea that what I do is how I worship God. Was my message brilliant and engaging? I worshiped Jesus. Did I write something people read and liked? I worshiped Jesus. Have I been patient and loving with my son all day, not once getting mad at him ever? Worshiping Jesus, done. What about my eating and weight loss; did I do it perfectly? Way to worship, Frances!
Even though I truly believe that we do worship Jesus through loving and serving well, I find it all too easy for me to leave Jesus out of the picture and simply focus on results. Using my gifts well becomes its own end instead of a means to glorify God. Worship and following is reduced to “done” or “not done”.
As I read the prayer above, I am challenged to focus on Jesus again. I am God’s child because of Jesus. I am God’s child because of him. I don’t let that reality sink into my heart often enough. When I do, that thought fills me with the same gratitude that causes little hands to make construction paper cards on Father’s Day and macaroni necklaces on Mother’s Day. I’m simply grateful and want to do the best I can to convey that to my Abba the best I know how. That’s the heart of worship.
I’m also challenged to stop being so hard on myself when I don’t get the results I believe I should. My son is always my son, even when things are difficult. I will never stop loving him. Why do I assume that God, who is love and a perfect Father, would love me less when I don’t get it right? If I tried my best to convey the Gospel and no one tells me “Great message, pastor” at the end, I still worshiped. If my husband is yet again the only one to read my blog, I still glorified Jesus. If I’m not the parent I think I should be, I’m still doing what Jesus has called me to do. If I mess up and eat all the Easter candy (again), I am still God’s child and more deeply loved than I could ever fathom. When my goal is to be his child, I don’t have to fear losing his affection. I’m free to allow his love to sink deep into every fiber of my being, so that even on “off” days, I know I am his. Then I can rest in his presence. That’s the heart of worship.
I am God’s child because of Jesus. I just had to say it one more time. I want to praise him by being his child today and every day.