I wonder if my parents were closet germ-a-phobes. Praying before our meal was not the first thing we did when we gathered at the dinner table. That came much later. First came the hand inspection and without fail one of us three kids would be sent back to the bathroom to wash our hands again with the stern reminder that we do not come to the table with dirty hands. My parents could have come off a 40-day fast but no one would eat until all hands had been properly washed. Saying grace was more of an expression of relief to God that we actually passed inspection and would be allowed to eat that night. You have probably picked up on my sarcasm by now, but of course, this was a necessary and important lesson to be learned.
Sometimes I think we approach worship like this. We think that we have to get all presentable and cleaned up before God will allow us to approach him. I'm not advocating that we can carelessly walk into his presence without regard to the attitude of our heart. However, I think we develop a false image of the Father and how he views us. Psalm 34:18 says, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted." Jesus himself said in Matthew 11:28, "come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." You see, God is not looking for people who have it all together, who are perfect, who don't struggle, or who don't have problems. Those people don't need God. He's looking for people who are needy and have problems, people who are broken and beat up by life. Those are the kind of people who need God and he is close to them. The invitation is to come to him the way you are now. Yes, he knows you aren't perfect and he knows all of your failures, your hurts, your disappointments and fears - he knows all of that. And the good news is that he is still calling out to you to come near to him because he alone can meet you in the midst of your hurt and brokenness. Don't run away in fear that he will reject you. Run towards him knowing that his arms are open wide toward you to embrace you fully in his love and grace.
I love the second verse of Indescribable by Chris Tomlin. It says, "You see the depths of my heart yet you love me the same. You are amazing, God!" Come to his table and let him wash away all the junk. This is what worship is really all about.
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