Sunday mornings we gather to worship like most churches do. God must look with excitement as His Bride is focused and demonstrating a unity that is rarely seen any other part of the week. Our church sanctuary is fortunate to have windows that allows worshipers to see high into the trees. Often, as we sing praise and worship to God, you may notice me gazing out the windows at the trees, doing what trees do. I love the outdoors and enjoy connecting with God and His creation. One particular Sunday, recently, God brought to my mind the word “freedom” as I was watching the trees.
You have probably studied trees enough to know that when the wind blows on a tree, the tree and its leaves react to the wind. Depending on where a tree is located, one tree will not have the same reaction to the wind as another. If a heavy wind is blowing, the leaves wave really quickly and the trunk bends. If it is a more gentle breeze, you will notice that the leaves are not all doing the same thing. Some leaves will be rocking back and forth in a very happy motion. You will see some leaves not moving at all. Others will be slowly moving with the breeze.
On that particular Sunday, as I watched the beautiful trees, while singing praises to my God; I thought about how “freedom in worship” looks different on each person.
Freedom…looks different on each person
God made trees to be trees. He gave them branches and leaves. That old Jewish worship course is going through my head as I write this, taken from a passage in Isaiah, “The trees of the field will clap their hands…” Those branches and leaves respond to the wind in their own unique way. They feel no shame in slowly moving, being still or happily waving. Each and every leaf is demonstrating the glory of God and thus bringing great pleasure to the Creator. I could be wrong on this, but I also doubt that leaf A is egging leaf B on trying to coerce it to respond as A does. One leaf is not looking down on another leaf thinking it is having a greater more purposeful experience in the wind than the other.
I love watching all the leaves create a beautiful symphony to their Creator and my heavenly Daddy. As I watched those trees that day, the idea that God created me with such a purpose on the earth and uniqueness, was amazing. My responding to the “wind” of His presence, does not have to look like the person standing beside me or even my colleague at work. The glory that He has given me will be demonstrated quite differently than the glory my wife or brother have.
I love my church family because of its diversity. We have folks who have lived quite a long time and also very young. There are various races represented as well. Most every church has every kind of personality under the sun, as our does. I love that on any given Sunday, you will see dancers, folks with flags, hand raisers. There will be some laying on their face, some on their knees, and some standing very still. You will also see people singing. You will hear some people screaming their praise to God. Some people are not singing or saying anything. Not one of these expressions of God’s glory should feel any shame in their uniqueness. No one should ever feel manipulated into expressing their praise and worship to God in a certain way.
There is a popular song that we love to sing and so does much of the church across America, called: “Good, Good Father“. The course goes like this, “You’re a good, good Father, It’s Who You are… and I’m loved by You, it’s who I am.” We may have been singing that song on that particular Sunday as I was gazing at the trees. Every individual has been uniquely created by a good heavenly Dad. Our breathing air in and out brings pleasure to Him. As in the creation story, when He formed us in our mothers womb, he looked and said, “It is good.” He was and remains happy with who we are. If you were created to swing in a bright joyous fashion with the wind of His presence, then do it with all your might, knowing that you are bringing GREAT pleasure to your Creator and God. If you are quiet and contemplative and you find yourself very still in His presence, you too, are pleasing to your Maker.
I believe that when we get to that place, that we can REALLY be ourselves without fear or shame, that is what brings the greatest pleasure to God our Father. It is the job of every family member to create that culture in which individuals are free to be themselves.
It’s everyone’s job to create a culture of Freedom
There are some traditions that have risen in the church world, that actually allow for fear and shame to breed in those who are not able to or refuse to conform. I am glad to be part of a culture, that has certainly not “arrived”, yet, it is striving to break down a mindset that says you must conform or be free to find family elsewhere. You will never see conformity in a forest. The trees seem very randomly placed. The gentle breeze that flows through the trees will not find every leaf acting the same way. To conform is to perform. God is not looking for a performance, He is drawn to humans, being exactly who they were created to be.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. Psalm 139:14
David realized and acknowledged the unique workmanship of God in his existing as a human. The next time you look at a tree or its leaves, be reminded, that God designed you to respond to the gentle breeze of His Presence in a unique way that may or may not look like what others are doing. Be OK with your response and get over the ungodly beliefs that tell you that you did not do it like others. Experience the joy of the Lord. He loves it when you are REALLY you. Let us all enjoy this freedom that we have!