Thursday, October 2, 2014

Stumbling Up

Sometimes, I just stumble upon answered prayers. It takes me a while to realize that this is it: this is what I have been praying for! Let me explain.

During my time in Uganda, and after my return, I was struggling through the idea of worship. What does it mean to worship God? I don't think there is a right answer, but I do know that people in Uganda do it much differently than we do it here! Their songs, prayers, sermons and relationship with God is all about..GOD. They are constantly praising Him, adoring Him and sharing about just how GREAT our God is.

I was convicted. They seemed to have it right, so that must mean we were doing it wrong. Luckily, I didn't stay in this place of comparison for long. I quickly realized that our faiths were different, and that was largely due to our experiences and stories. I found that while we served the same God, He provided for us in different ways. Jesus to them is often a physical provider: His work in their life is visible and tangile. He provides work, money, food, shelter, a helping hand. Therefore, the Ugandans couldn't help but worship just how great and powerful our God has been to them. In America, at least in my experience in California, God provides emotionally. Jesus has impacted me personally: He has redeemed me, healed me and is transforming ME into a more full version of myself. This leads me to worshipping God with songs that revolve around His desire to change me from the "inside out."

It was amazing to see how the same Jesus provides so differently across the world. And it was impactful to see how this changes the way we follow and worship Jesus. While neither approach is all-encompassing, each has its positives and negatives. I too often make my faith about ME and what I want and need. The Ugandans can forget that Jesus also longs to restore their souls, not just their homes.

So with the full awareness that neither way of worship was best, I still knew there was something for me to learn. How do I praise God like the Ugandan people?

This is when I stumbled upon the answer. At the same time, God was also encouraging me to learn how to repent, to live life with a more repentful heart. One way to create this habit was to practice as Jesus did: Praise, Repent, Ask, Thank. In the beginning, I was confused about the difference between praise and thankfulness. Aren't I doing the same thing?

Oh no. Praise is worship. That is a time when I can remember how God is WONDERFUL and MIGHTY and FORGIVING. Thankfulness is remembering how God has blessed me. In the beginning of my journal time each day, I spent time repeating back God's promises, basking in the glory of His greatness. I let God lead me through as I recall the truths of His Word. I write out His love song, reminding myself just how much He loves me, that He is worthy of my whole life, and that His will is ultimate.

While God was teaching me how to repent, He also taught me how to praise. It has been incredible to spend time remembering all of God's promises. Consequently, I find it easier to recall them in times of darkness and doubt. I do not as easily forget when I am regularly reminding myself of the great God that I serve.

Over and over, I see that God answers my prayers. He always answers. Sometimes, he just uses the backdoor.

You are loved.