Right now, Joseph is in this *super* fun phase where his first response to frustration or sadness is to take whatever is closest to him and throw it.
This is often food. Sometimes Lego. Both awful.
And because the initial outburst of the oatmeal or lego blocks or crayons flying everywhere is never really quite satisfying enough, he’ll get right there into the mess he made AND MAKE IT EVEN MESSIER.
He knows he’ll have to clean up afterward. He doesn’t actually enjoy messes. But he doesn’t know where to put his feelings. There’s no bridge for him between feeling and acting. We're working on building that bridge, but construction goes slow on this one.
And let’s be real here. A lot of adults don’t do much better. I don’t do much better sometimes.
A couple weeks ago I unearthed some of my old journals and I was remembering a few experiences where I really wasn’t sure I’d come out the other end. Messy situations and messy feelings and messy relationships and just mess, everywhere. Ever been on one of those boats of horror? Yep, thought so. It's kind of part of being alive.
But even looking back 5 or 10 years ago, I can see that the way I’ve handled my emotions in seasons of mess and pressure has slowly been evolving over time, and there are a few things I’m realizing even now.
I think everything starts with one critical question. In the hard place of conflict or impossibility - when the problem feels too big and when we have no clue what to do with our feelings or where to start trying to fix things - what’s the first action we take with those feelings?
First steps are critical because they’re directional. They set the course for whatever’s going to follow, whether that’s me dealing with my frustrated toddler or me dealing with a relational conflict or any other messy problem that seems like I’m just going to be circling round eternally.
I would suggest that our natural impulse as humans - in and out of the church - is to act on our feelings without anything bridging the feeling and acting.
BUT. As believers in Jesus we have to put a bridge there.
The bridge is worship.
If we take worship out of the equation, the sequence of events that follows a decision becomes dependent on our performance.
That is a really heavy thing to carry because it means that when we mess up or things don’t go as we wanted or people don’t respond like we want them to, we suddenly have this big burden of blame that falls like a brick on the situation, and we have to put that brick somewhere, on someone. Blaming and shaming is to a situation like Joe getting into the pile of oatmeal he threw off the table and slapping it around on the floor. Mess getting messier. Nobody getting anywhere.
Performance actually causes us to resist revelation of God's goodness. When we’re stuck running on our own strength, we can't run into his.
I believe this more than ever before: worship is a weapon. Surrender is a weapon. It’s the most powerful thing we can do, ever, in any situation. The impact of our worship is not imagined. It’s real. It’s powerful. It makes a difference.
Thousands of years ago during the reign of king called Jehoshaphat, a huge horde of enemies had gathered to fight Israel. This was, literally, a dead end. As in, involving a lot of people actually being dead.
Was Jehoshaphat’s first response to get all his generals together to make a battle plan? No. And he didn’t panic and run to the hills or hide in his closet either. He gathered the people, and face to face with their problem, together they prayed and worshiped God.
In this gathering, God’s Spirit came upon a man called Jahaziel (v 14-17). We’re not told anything else about this guy other than that God spoke to him. He was probably just an average Joe. But something happened to this man as he worshiped, something that set the direction for a whole nation : GOD SPOKE.
And God told Israel what to do.
He even told them specifically where to go and where to expect their enemy to be.
“Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.”
If so many lives hadn’t been at stake, the whole thing would be laughable. It didn’t make any sense. And it got even more hilariously illogical when the people actually went out to battle, because Jehoshaphat had this *great* idea to send out the musicians first.
The worship team was the front line.
This is like sending Hillsong out to face ISIS.
It’s ridiculous to our logical thinking. It’s stupid. But God did what he said. The enemy ambushed and destroyed itself without the Israelites having to do anything except worship. Worship was the one thing they did. That's it.
Jehoshaphat understood something that I believe we need to take hold of more often in the church.
He saw that his most effective first step in facing a problem was worship. He saw it when the threat presented itself, and he saw it when he made the decision to send out his singers ahead of the troops on the battlefield.
Worshiping God is a statement that he has more than I have. He has wisdom, power, and love that are beyond what I have.
Worship reveals to my heart that God's abundance defines my worth. God’s bigness not only defines who he is, but what I can be and what i can do.
This is why the bridge of worship is a bridge into freedom and deliverance and solutions to impossible problems.
This is where I decide God is who he says he is, and what he tells me to do is never going to crack or fall apart because he always comes through on what he says.
He is reliable. He is steady. He delivers. He helps us out of our mess.
And on that note, excuse me while I go help my son clean up the Legos again.