Monday, September 17, 2012

Worship in a Different Light

Sleepy.  So sleepy.  It was rather soupy weather outside.  Nice and dark, cool, and drippy.  Perfect morning to be snuggled under the covers.  In Texas, this is the closest thing to autumn we get, and it is most definitely savored.  But the bed's call doesn't have as much pull as worship and education, so after the fifty-minute trek to church, we found ourselves nestled together in the front row of our CE class.  The kids happily plugged into their classes, we were free to enjoy the study of Galatians with our peers.


There have been some changes in Ryan's CE class, and that's okay!  Changes happen.  While changes aren't fun for him (or us for that matter), they are good.  Like weight training.  If you seek to build stronger muscles, you must gradually increase the weight you're lifting.  If you always stay at the same weight, maintenance might happen, but reaching potential requires stretching your limits a bit at a time.  And stretching limits can be quite uncomfortable.

The past couple of Sundays, I've been needed to calm Ryan in CE.  This Sunday, I'm thinking we might have it under control.  The first couple of times the door opened, it was just someone coming in late.  Delivering something.  Needing someone else.

Just as I began to settle in and mentally dig into the discussion of Paul confronting Peter, there was a familiar face at the door.

I smiled, gathered my things, and headed to Ryan's room.

So many people I have hung around seem to think that worship is a one-shot deal.  You get Sunday morning.  Okay, maybe it's a two or three shot deal, depending on your denomination and choice of congregation.  Worship is a place to go and a thing to do.  It is almost certainly tied to music... and while I LOVE church music, I am convinced that the most powerful worship has nothing to do with music.

Although worship is corporate at times, the immediate picture in our heads of a church service can't be the only worship in our lives.  Worship in its most complete sense cannot be put into a box only to be opened at certain times and in certain ways.  It happens in several ways, or should be, even in every corner of every church, even when one person is cleaning the toilets.  Worship always flows from a heart that wants to glorify God.  Yes, music can be part of it.  No, I'm not telling you that you don't have to be part of a body of believers.  That is essential to growth and obedience.  

Now before you go to iTunes in search of another praise music download, I'm still not talking about music.  Worship in this sense is all about heart.  Attitude.  Willingness.

Extending grace to the person who cuts you off in traffic.

Tipping the bad waiter anyway.

Taking a solid, loving stand for truth.

Caring for those who cannot care for themselves.

Doing your best at work, home, and in all you do...  whether or not anyone is watching.

Thanking God for the grace given to us to complete these tasks, and completing them and a host of others with a true heart gratitude and understanding that it all comes from Him.

Worship is saying, rising from the ashes of pain, with fresh tears staining your face and sobs in your voice, that God is good.  He is love.  And He is sovereign.

There was a time when I prayed hard, before we received Ryan's diagnosis, that it wouldn't be autism.  Please God, please.  Please.  I can't do this.  It can't be this way.  I see what others go through and I just can't.  Please.

You know how that turned out.

No, I do not understand it.  Yes, I do believe that God can do anything.  But if I truly believe that God is sovereign, I must let go of my need to know why.  Was our prayer answered?  Yes.  Not in the way we'd hoped, but it was answered.  Will we ever know why our son has the challenges he has?  Probably not.

But we can ask to what end these things are in our lives.  And to that question, I have seen many answers over these past few years.  God has big plans for Ryan, just as he does Richie and Maelynn in their neurotypicalness.

For this Mama, a part of worship is freely giving my time to help Ryan acclimate.  Right now, at least for the past few Sundays, I have the privilege of helping my son and his church aid learn the best way to help him participate.  The newest challenge is sitting in a chair instead of laying on the floor during CE.  In the worship service (there's that word again) it's teaching him to listen.  To at least read along with liturgy.  It's baby steps, meeting him where he is and gently, lovingly guiding him.  The larger part of that is showing him how much it means to me.

But I thought you had a willing, helpful, caring aid and teacher in CE?!  Right.  We do.  But I'm his mother.  And although we couldn't function without their willing cooperation and loving acceptance, when it comes right down to it, I'm his mother.  I know him and love him, and I want to help.  I must help.

Isn't it disappointing to have to leave class?  Well, yes and no.  I wish I could listen.  I wish I could sit there, sip coffee, and dig into the word that way.  It's great that so many people get to do that!  But Ryan is only little for so long.  And he's been entrusted to us.  And I can't help but come clean and admit that I almost choked up walking to the class this time.  Not because I didn't get to stay.  Not because it's so unfair that I didn't get to participate in discussion.

Because he's looked forward to it all week.  He asks for CE and church all week.  And now he's on the floor, somewhere between fussing and screaming at having to sit in a chair.  Enjoyment isn't anywhere close.  

I'm not sure why.  I make inferences, and this time they're failing.  He does make it to his seat, he does manage to make it through.  I know that he had a little fun, because he smiled.  And you know what else he did?  He showed off a bit.  I told the lady who hangs out and helps him that he drew a picture of a little man at home... his first drawing from his imagination!!!

And he reproduced it.  Not just the man, but two little folks right beside him.

I'm not sure who this is, I'm not sure why he's sad.  But it might as well be the Mona Lisa in my house.  

In the same way, my perspective of worship is different.  We're grateful for the level of involvement we have in our church and community.  Not just grateful for that, but for the ways our boy has stretched our idea of worship.  It may look a little funny to the rest of the world... maybe it even looks unfair.  Maybe it looks like it shouldn't have to be this way.  

But for today, minute to minute, it is.  So we trust.  We soak in the comfort of God's sovereignty. We run back there when we're down.  We thank God for all.  


He has never, but never, failed us. 

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