Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

June 10, 2012


Learning to enjoy God is one tough lesson


          “Thou art worthy” is one of the most inspiring “worship songs” I have ever heard. I remember where I was seated when I first heard the song – in a retreat center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I thought I was there to bless others as a speaker. God had another plan – to bless me with that song.

            The simple melody had an easy flow. The words touched my heart so deeply that for a few moments I was unaware of the tears that flowed gently down my cheeks. Here are the words that blessed me that day:

Thou art worthy, Thou art worthy,
Thou art worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory, glory and honor,
Glory and honor and pow'r;
For Thou has created, hast all things created,
Thou hast created all things,
And for Thy pleasure they are created:
Thou art worthy, O Lord!

            A Bible verse inspired Pauline Mills to compose the song. These are the words of John in Revelation 4:11 – “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

            This song was my introduction to songs or choruses that were different from the hymns of my upbringing. The songs I had known and loved were hymns “about” God; this was a song addressed to God. Such songs were new and inspiring to me although I have not lost my love of the ancient hymns that are dear to me.

            “Thou art worthy” helps one to simply worship God for who he is and what he has done for us. That the song is based on a verse from Revelation is not surprising for that is what that book is all about – the worship of God.

If you can look past the strange symbolism in Revelation, you can see that  the basic theme of Revelation is very clear – the  worship of almighty God. The business of heaven is the worship of God. The worshippers John sees are 24 elders and four living creatures. The elders surely represent the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles. The creatures may symbolize all creation. Thus John visualizes a time when all creatures will join with the people of God in worshipping our Creator.

Human beings have a proclivity for worship. No doubt God created us with a capacity to worship. But he also gave us a free will. We can choose to worship God or we can worship something else. Therein is our problem. Our sinful nature blinds us to the need to worship God so we end up worshipping a thousand things other than almighty God.

Unless and until we are saved by grace, we are prone to worship little gods of our own making. The fact is that we become like what we worship. When we worship the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we tend to become Christlike. If we worship our own pleasure we become hollow, pathetic people who bear no resemblance to the Christ.

Learning to worship God with one’s whole heart is never easy. Early in our lives most of us wanted God to do what we asked of him. We did not report for duty, asking God to show us what he wanted of us. We talked to God as though he were our servant.  We whined when things did not go our way.

As we grow in grace we learn that God has a reason for the troubles he allows us to have. He is more interested in our growth than in our comfort. We stop asking why God let a crisis occur. Instead we ask what he is teaching us in the midst of our misfortune.

Slowly we learn that instead of asking for things we can simply crawl into God’s lap and let him love us for awhile. We can be still for a few minutes and, like a little child, feel the sheer joy of being loved. Such a mature attitude only comes, of course, when we choose to give up worshipping worthless idols made with our hands and begin to cry with John, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

Authentic worship may require more than a steady diet of choruses. We need also the sense of awe that comes from singing some of the great hymns of the faith. For example, singing Reginald Heber’s hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty,” reminds me that God is holy and worthy of my highest praise. Somehow the Spirit “causes me to tremble” whenever I sing with others:

Holy, holy, holy!

All the saints adore thee,

Casting down their golden crowns

Around the glassy sea,

Cherubim and seraphim

Falling down before thee,

Perfect in power, in love and purity.

True worship of God is not reserved for Sunday services. If the citizens of heaven worship God in ceaseless praise, we can surely find ways to worship him every day – at home, at work, and at play. We have every reason to praise God constantly. He created us as well as all things. He gave us life. He makes possible every breath we take.

He gives us the power to speak the next word and to take the next step. He gives us the capacity to choose good over evil, to forgive rather than to hate, to value life rather than destroy it, to celebrate rather than to complain, and to worship him rather than lesser gods.

Perhaps it was John’s vision that inspired this inclusion in the Westminster Shorter Catechism:

“Question: What is the chief end of man?

“Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”

Authentic worship of almighty God, begun here and continued with the saints and elders in heaven, will enable us to do just that.  Though it is not easy, it is worth our best effort.  + + +