It was late on a Thursday night. Our family had just piled into the minivan and started the trek home from Community Group. That night we enjoyed a rousing discussion on Antichrists as we studied 1 John 2:18; our community group studies follow the sermon series on Sundays. Those kind of discussions usually get passionate, not in the sense that we disagree, or anything like that, but in the sense that we all get really worked up on loving Christ purely — by purely I mean having affections for sound doctrine.
As we were driving home a worship song my wife loves started playing. The kids were already nodding off in the back of the van, and the lull of her voice only amplified the effect of the late hour for them. I was off in my world, reflecting on the discussion I facilitated, processing what might have been done different.
But then I started to listen to my wife’s voice. I’ve always enjoyed her voice. Without realizing it, I started to feel a gush of emotion well up in me, like the slow gush of water that comes from a spring. It wasn’t a weepy emotion like one get’s when they’ve lost a loved one. And it wasn’t like the butterflies you get when you just start dating, and you think to yourself, “I might marry this one.” It was me being swept up into the holiness of God. The feeling came slow, but it was strong; it was the feeling of pure delight in hearing God exalting worship, self-effacing pouring out of one’s soul. I sat quietly listening to my bride sing, knowing that it was not a song sung to me but to God. Yet, it brought me such great joy.
Then a thought occurred to me: the bridegroom loves to hear his bride sing. I’m not talking about me hearing Kendall sing next to me in the car. I’m talking about Christ hearing his Church adore him. Now, if you’re someone who doesn’t like to sing or doesn’t feel like they are good at singing, then, get this, the bridegroom always loves to hear his bride sing. It doesn’t matter if you’re in key or off-key, a bass or a tenor, someone who can sing a third part harmony, or someone who’s always in falsetto — you know who you are — regardless, the bridegroom loves to hear his bride sing.
This thought never struck me so vividly as it did in the van on that ride home. But that’s what happens when we stop talking, stop singing, and start listening for a moment. Sometimes it is just as worshipful to listen to worship as it is to participate in worship. Sometimes that’s when we experience a deeper sense of worship, a worship that peels back the facade of performance and distraction, and is just raw worship. Maybe that’s why when I was younger I enjoyed the rawness of the Enter the Worship Circle albums from 100 Portraits and Waterdeep or the albums from Shane and Shane. They taught me to start listening. They taught me to stop caring about presentation and performance. They taught me simplicity.
This is probably why I find myself these days more drawn to listening to Bob Kauflin, Mark Altrogge, the Gettys, Dustin Kensrue, Matt Boswell, Stephen Miller, or Michael Bleeker. They are examples of worship leaders that demonstrate self-effacing, humble, and sincere worship. Furthermore, they are examples of worship that brim with sound doctrinal, God exalting, heart affecting lyrics that produce that same gushing feeling in my soul that thirsts for God’s holiness.
When has this sensation been produced in you? Who are some of your favorite worship leaders of yesterday and today? Do you allocate time for worship outside of Sunday morning? Sometimes I do, but too often, I do not. I remember being in high school or college and having impromptu worship sessions with my friends. I miss those days. I long for them again. It makes me want to dust off my Larrivee, rebuild my calluses, and gather my family in the living room for worship. I think I will.