I tried a different church this morning. I'm not quite sure why. I thought I had found the church I would attend here in Florida. I've been to that church three times and like it very much but still felt a desire to try just one more.
The music was loud and whiny, I felt like I was in a foreign land - not a church service. For one song they sang in Spanish. I can't speak Spanish so how could I worship God in a language whose words I don't know the meaning of? It was during that song that I fell out of the mode of worship and became frustrated. The music was growing louder and the first hour of the service was upon us.
Before I left for church this morning I had such a great peace. My soul has been yearning for quiet tranquility not noise made by drums and belting vocals. I can't hear God when the music is making my chest thump and my sternum ache. That is not worship to me. Worship is the revealing of God's truth. That is when I feel the most connected to my Father and the most humbled in his presence.
After one song in particular, where the whole congregation seemed to be in a state of moaning and distress, I couldn't take it one second longer. I didn't feel my God there. I had felt him so strongly that morning in my little apartment but not here, not with all the emotional wailing that seemed to be more performance than worship. At any moment I wouldn't have been surprised if people started speaking in tongues.
I got up and walked out. Never before have I ever left during a church service but today I just couldn't stand to feel my peace with God stomped on by a a base drum. There is a time and a place for loud songs of praise but this morning I wasn't at that place in my heart. I wanted to be on my knees with soft piano accompaniment, maybe even pure silence.
God has put in my soul a thirst for serenity and quietude. I'm not sure if this will always be the desire of my heart, but for now it is. And I must admit, I'm happy to oblige. Some people love to dance in the aisles of church, clap their hands with energetic enthusiasm and raise their hands as they sway with the beat of the music. At this point in my life I'm craving something different.
I want a mat on the floor; a cushion for me to set my knees on. I want the stillness of a hushed room, only the sounds of nature and wildlife to interrupt the silence. I want Christian books filled with wisdom about scriptures and encouragement rooted in truth. I want my Bible that has my pen marks, highlighted verses and notes in the margins.
God is revealing things to me. He is revealing my weakness and my great need for him. Through reading his word and resting in his presence he is teaching me.
There have been so many men and women of the Bible who were kept in solitude for a time. Even Jesus spent time in the desert. I'm sure it was quiet there, too. But these times of silence were needed. It is the moments of quiet when God can make himself heard without competition from outside sources. We get the chance to focus on him alone and not the bombastic noise filling our daily lives.
Maybe I shouldn't have left during that church service today. I'm not sure if God was shaking his head in disapproval of my actions or if he understood my heart on the matter. Well, I'm sure he understood my heart - he always does - but I'm not sure he would find my feelings appropriate or not. Either way, I cannot take back my actions. All I can do is continue to soak in the word and ask God to forgive me for any actions that might have come across as offensive to some at that church or just plain rude. I didn't mean them in that way, I just wanted to get back to the presence of God and I wasn't experiencing it there in that room, pounding with music.
When I got back in my car I breathed a sigh of relief.
This time in my life is my own personal desert, right here on the coast of Florida. This is a time when God is growing me spiritually through suffering and daily communing with him. Sometimes that means I will need to pull away from the rest of the world so I can pull closer to him. Sometimes it might appear to everyone else that I'm just being a loner, but I'm not alone. I'm pulling closer to my God, finding comfort in the rest he promises and the peace he so abundantly provides.