Written By Bella Newberry, USA
For the past year and a half, I have been serving with a missions organization. This means that I have been on the move for quite some time now, not feeling like I have a place to call home. I have been surrounded by the unfamiliar, from food to language and culture. Through all these changes, I have found it hard to worship God. I didn’t know what it looked like to worship the Lord daily in the midst of confusion.
So often I think of worshipping God as an amazing experience in church—where the music is great, the lights are dimmed, and everyone seems to be in awe of the Creator. But overseas, I often do not know the language well enough to understand the worship songs. The music is different than what I am used to. That is when I saw that worship is not only in the moments before a sermon at church. It was something more.
But what? I asked the Lord for guidance, sought counsel from others, and spent time studying the Bible over the last few months trying to answer this question. Each of these things brought some peace, but I was still asking God, “What’s next? How can I glorify You when I feel like I’m constantly confused and things are uncertain?”
I’m not naturally an angry person, but anger and frustration have crept upon me this past year. I’ve found myself discouraged, in tears, not even knowing the cause of all the pain.
At the time I was reading the gospel of Matthew, and I remember longing to hear the words of Jesus—His love and gentleness was marked on every page. In those moments of reading and praying, I felt that I truly had the comfort of Jesus. Even though I might be uncertain and unsatisfied, He was there. Each morning I read through the gospel of Matthew, I saw how present Jesus is. I also saw some people who worshipped Jesus just once after He performed a healing or miracle, while in contrast, the disciples followed Jesus every day, giving up their livelihood to be with Him.
What Worship Really Looks Like
The New Testament uses different Greek words to describe worship. Some words, such as proskyneo (John 4, Revelation, etc.), bring to mind the image of someone falling down and paying homage, kissing another’s hand, or bowing down. Other words, such as latreia (Romans 12:1) and its close cousin latreuo (Romans 1:9, Hebrews 12:28, etc.), mean to serve or to minister to. I see these words and think how wonderful it is, that our worship of the Living God can be an act of falling down or bowing down, but it can also be the act of rendering service, which implies an active choice to daily serve.
That changed the way I approached and thought about worship: Worshipping God is not limited to a great church service. Worshipping the Lord is a daily choice, to serve Him and represent Him well as an image-bearer.
Though there are times when it’s still difficult, I am learning to worship God by serving Him—in all circumstances and in every season of life. Worship happens when I can sit and read the words of Jesus; it happens when I acknowledge that all my security is in the Lord alone.
When I’m overwhelmed with emotions—I worship Him. When I feel aimless—I worship Him. When the future feels uncertain—I still worship Him. I don’t do this because I have the strength to—I have seen how weak I truly am—I worship because He is worthy.
I haven’t done this perfectly, but I am learning to continue serving Him. I have worshipped Him through ministry, serving others, and acknowledging Him as Lord of my life. Some days this looks like praying for people, other days teaching the Bible, other days reminding myself of biblical truths, and still other days the “glorious” work of doing dishes. Worship can look like so many different things because we are made in the image of God, which means in all things we do we have the opportunity to represent Him. It is not limited to Sunday service or ministry we are involved in once a week—everyday in every moment, there is opportunity to worship God.
On the mission field I have been given wonderful opportunities that I know I do not deserve. But I realized, one day while washing dishes after one of the smallest Bible studies I have ever attended (only one woman and her two children showed up besides those who work at the church), that my service to the Lord does not always have to be this amazing act of sharing the gospel or saving someone’s life, my service can simply be to wash everyone’s dishes with joy.
I have seen that all my purpose comes from the Lord. No matter how overwhelmed I get in life, when I choose to remain faithful, it is a sacrificial act of worship: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship”(Romans 12:1).
When we’re confronted with our weaknesses in the midst of changes, remember that when we are weak, Christ’s strength is made perfect. I am not called to be perfectly strong, but as a believer I am simply called to obey my good Father, trusting Him with the rest. I have not found all the answers to my questions, but I have found that Jesus is faithful and because of that, I can still worship God in my day to day life. We worship the Lord by remembering His faithfulness despite our weakness. We worship in every season, and in every change.