My worship journey peaked at an unusual place called Splash Country. It is a Dolly Parton entertainment park where the entire place, huge place, is water-related activities. Thus the name, Splash Country. I went there with my then-seven-year-old daughter Salem.
Normally at a place like this, there are the watchers and the doers. But today, everyone came to play, regardless of size or shape, pasty white or bottle bronzed, cool bathing suit or out-dated reruns, we all played in the water, played in the fountains, down the slides, floated down the lazy river, and huddled under the Giant bucket, which was my personal favorite.
I realized that I had joined them in the child-like excitement. But more importantly I realized I was good with me. I came to play with my daughter. And life was very good.
But then we came to the wave pool.
Now, I know that we are all made in the image of God. I am so good with that. But standing around, waiting for “something,” with a bunch of wet, half-naked young and old people standing too, too close was not so good.
I mean really…there were a lot of hairy men. Really hairy. Really awkward. It is was cramped and everyone is trying not to touch anyone…whew. Get the picture?
Then from over the speaker you hear this beep— beep— beep. Everyone chattered in an odd sense of anticipation and the waves begin. The water slowly rippled but then grew in momentum. It moved up and down creating waves. Up and down. Up and down. Up and down, very predictable. Up and down, very heartless. Up and down, even the kids grew bored. Up and down. Then the water went flat.
No waves. No laughter. No expectation. What do you have left? Everyone standing around cramped, wet and half-naked, trying not to touch each other —waiting.
So I take all this in and think maybe, just maybe it was a bad run at the wave pool. We hang around to see if next time is better, as if next time it would be different. It wasn’t. Not that time or the next four times. Only the bodies changed out.
They weren’t changed, they just changed out, meandered off in hopes of a little excitement.
As I stood on the wave pool edge (you could hardly call the sloped concrete a “shore”), I watched the waves go up and down in a powerless, passionless rhythm and everyone jumping on cue with feigned excitement.
Then the Lord said, This is like worship.
I kept watching. “How so?” I asked.
It is empty.
“Why doesn’t this work, Lord? It seems like a good idea. The fun of the ocean without salt, without the sand.”
Because there is no awe.
Let’s break this down. Just like a wave pool where you can jump in waves with no ocean, you can worship without a GOD to worship. When worship is not fueled by the Spirit of God, driven by desire for God, in awe of God, then it is boring and predictable and empty like the wave pool. It may be fun for a few minutes, then you wander off, ready to do something else. You are not changed by it. You just change activities.
Let’s talk about the ocean. It is always different. You can’t help but feel the huge-ness, it is ever changing, and oh the power. I could go on and on!. The smell, the feel, the taste. It never gets old, you never know what you will get when you go. Every time is different. Much like the presence of the Lord, you experience it, all of it, the feel, the taste, the smell. There is a power and source that comes in waves. But you can’t control these waves. You don’t even know when or how they will come. Only that they will come.
Excerpt taken from Unhindered, Chapter 46
Let’s Get Real Here:
When you think of worship – really – are you standing in a wave pool or at the ocean? If you’re in the wave pool, ask the Lord to give you awe. If you’re at the ocean, ask Him what He has for the two of you there.