Growing up in the Barlow house you better have a bone sticking out of your arm if you wanted to get out of going church. Even then, we probably would have gone to the ER and made it to church by 9:05. As a teenager, it didn’t matter if you were out until 3 am, your butt had better be in that pew before the first song started. Whenever we went on vacation, we always found a church to go to nearby. It was embedded in my brain even as a small child. Probably not everyone’s experience as a child but I am so grateful this was my story.
My parents didn’t give me a choice about brushing my teeth or going to school, so they definitely weren’t going to give me an option about something that would affect my eternity. They instilled in me from a very young age that church is important. And do you know what happened? It went from my parents making me go, to my own personal desire to worship the living God. It’s not just about being there and going through the motions because you think you have to. Sure, I want to be obedient to God, but it’s so much more than suffering through an hour of church while your mind is on where you are going to eat lunch.
I go to church to hear the word of God preached and to worship the God of the universe collectively with other believers.
Psalm 66 says
“Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the Earth! Sing out the honor of his name. Make his praise glorious…all the earth shall worship you and bring praise to you, they shall sing praises to your name.
We had Robbyn the previous Sunday and the next Sunday we planned to go to church and then go up to the NICU. Some might think that seems nuts to not go to the NICU all day but to me going to church to praise God that Sunday was everything I needed. God had given me so many blessings over the past week I needed to be in a house of worship and give God my praise. Louie Giglio, a well-known pastor, said this about worship “We are acknowledging Him as the source of all things, gratefully give back to Him what He has already so graciously given to us.”
In the New Testament in Acts 16, Paul and Silas are imprisoned for healing a demon-possessed slave girl. Her master is so mad he has lost his profit from the girl’s divination, he takes Paul and Silas to the officials where they are beaten and thrown in jail. While in shackles, Paul and Silas “were praying and singing hymns to God and the prisoners were listening to them.” God then sent an earthquake that opened all of the prison doors and unshackled all of the prisoners. The jailer had fallen asleep, and when he awoke, he saw the door open and assumed all of the prisoners had escaped. Paul stops the jailer as he is about to kill himself with his sword for allowing the prisoners to escape by saying, “Do yourself no harm for we are all here.”
Paul and Silas were beaten in front of a mob for healing a poor girl, wrongfully imprisoned and what are the seen doing? Praising God! I love worshipping God, but I am pretty sure I would not be seen doing that here. I would be grumbling about being wrongfully put in jail or nursing my wounds. But they praise God publicly in the middle of their trial. The outcome of such an act is that there is an earthquake and not one of the men in prison try to escape when they had every opportunity to.
They were such a powerful witness to the prisoners in such a short amount of time. It goes on to tell that the jailer and his family also accept Christ because of the impact of Paul and Silas.
If they can have this impact, it makes me what kind of impact, if any, I will have on someone because of how I react in times of great trial. I’m sure Paul and Silas wanted to be beaten and imprisoned about as much as I want to have cancer. But just as God allowed them to be imprisoned, He has allowed me to have cancer. Without them being in jail, the jailer never would have been saved nor would the prisoners have been witnessed too. I feel the platform God has given me to use to share my faith is my cancer diagnosis, so how can I not praise him for giving me this opportunity I otherwise would not have had.
Jesus said in Luke 19:39 if we don’t praise God then even the rocks will cry out. Even creation knows who its creator is and longs to praise him. We are called to praise God, in all circumstances, not just when we feel like it. I love singing praise songs in my car or in my kitchen, but there is nothing better than singing to the God of the universe in thanksgiving with your brothers and sisters in Christ to the one who has given us everything.
Jordan and I have been in our praise band at church for years. We are not professionals by any stretch but we enjoy getting the privilege to lead worship at our church. One of my favorite things in the world is to watch Jordan play the piano. At home and at church. This song is my battle cry for this season of my life. It’s an amazing song called Even when it Hurts by my favorite band, Hillsong United. You should really take a listen to the real song but Jordan and I gave it a go with my trusty iPhone.