"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." - Vincent Van Gogh

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Now is the Time to Worship....

Woke up early from a dream. They say it usually takes at least three weeks after the death of a loved one before you dream about them. It was true for me... three weeks to the day and then came the dream.

It was not a dream of my father in heaven comforting or reassuring me, rather it was one of those "trying to work things out in your psyche" dreams... but it had a rather interesting ending so I'm going to share it.

In my dream I'm at work and I see dad running/walking through the woods. He's not himself, kind of tripping over his feet and stumbling. He falls down and I think... I have to go make sure his heart is working. So I run out and revive him. I convince him to come into the building where I'm at and we take an elevator up to the 4th floor. We are in a room with windows all around us. It is dark outside. He doesn't want to stay, he seems bent on dying. By now I'm realizing that there is very little I can do to keep him with me and safe, although I continue to try.

I call my mom and tell her I found dad but she better come right away because I'm having a hard time keeping him with me. Seems to take forever for her to get there but she finally arrives. She suggests that I play the piano so we start to do some worship songs. She tells me that will keep him with us.

First we sing something I don't even know, it's a new song but we join right in with a bunch of Hallelujah's. Then we find a song that dad wants us to sing. The song, "Now is the Time to Worship".

That's when I woke up.

A friend told me last week that it is in drawing closer to God that she feels the most peace and the presence of her lost loved ones.

When my mom's dad died suddenly, she took all his sacred records home with her. I remember her playing them over and over and over again. It was her way of plugging into her source of all comfort and keeping her father close.

I'm going to share something here... and you may think I'm crazy but rest assured I am not. What I'm going to tell you is absolutely true. I've always sought out amazing, creative worship. While we were pastoring in New Jersey I was fortunate enough to be associated with a few wonderful ministries and took our vacation time to attend worship conferences. At one conference that I attended about 12 years ago, we had been in an extended 90 plus minutes of extraordinary spontaneous worship. I'm talking with dance and flags and surrender and passion. As we were quieting ourselves before the throne of God a holy hush filled the room. Voices were rising, but they weren't voices from the church building. They were voices more pure than I have ever heard, in harmony and singing notes that no person on earth could sing. I heard beautiful bells, strong and bold yet very quiet. A peace filled my spirit as I sat and absorbed the reality that this was a heavenly gift. I've told very few people until now for it was so sacred a moment that words cannot share the impact that it made on my life.

Heaven and earth join together to sing God's praise. The saints that have gone before us, my dad, your loved ones, are all there in the throne room of God in a level of passionate worship that we cannot even imagine. Our worship down here is just a small picture of what's going on up there. But I KNOW that when we join in that worship, we are joined with our loved ones. In that moment, in that space, we are all together. It is as if we are in the same room! In the act of worship, we truly are keeping our loved ones close.

I know, it's not the reason that we fall down on our faces before the throne. There are so many other even better reasons to make a joyful noise. For one, that's why we were created. Secondly, one little peak into the magnificence of God causes our hearts to sing. We worship in gratitude for our gift of eternal life with him. There are so many reasons, but knowing that I'm closer to those I love and miss so much is the icing on the cake for me.

When we are surrounded by darkness and grief, praise is the only way out. Yes, it feels like a sacrifice. It's maybe the last thing that we want to do but it is exactly what we must do. It's in this act of surrender that we are filled with the peace that we so desperately desire.

My aunt was preparing to "graduate" the week before Easter many years ago. She so wanted to make it through the pearly gates before "Resurrection Day" came because she KNEW it would be amazing. She missed it by a few hours, but I imagine that every day is an Easter celebration in heaven. As we observe the events of this holy week remember what my father told me in a dream just last night.

Now is the time to worship....

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