I love spending time with God. My worship of Him is such an essential part of my day; l need it like the air that l breathe. In the same way, being in church is the highlight of my week, because l can refuel my spiritual tank there in praise, worship and service.
It has taken a lot of trial and error, as well as a huge amount of discipline, but over the years l have formed a routine where l set aside time every morning to worship God through prayer, music, bible study and journaling.
In John 4:23-24 it states that we should worship God "in the Spirit and in truth," and l try my hardest to abide by this. My time with God has become my dedication of thanks to Him, to show Him how much l love Him and to grow in my relationship with Him. His presence fills me with strength, gives me peace and reminds me that God is always looking after me. Consequently, when l come out of my time with God, l am strengthened in the assurance of His love and that with Him, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26)!
Making time to worship God and commit myself to Him with my entire being isn't easy. The world offers values, distractions, and pursuits that tempt me to take my eyes off of God. It's like the world is calling out to me to use my time of worship to pursue endeavors it considers more "important." Hence, l am constantly being challenged to make a decision between the selection of choices that the world is offering me and my choice to spend time with God in worship.
1 John 2:15 warns us to not love this world, not the things it offers us. But unless you're an uncontacted community, entirely cut off from the influence of modern-day society, what the world offers to entertain us, advance us, and ease our everyday lives can be pretty enticing.
That being said, when l am able to recognize in what ways l am being distracted by the world, l am able to work on re-focusing my attention back to God.
Here are 3 of my most pressing challenges to worshipping God in a world full of choices:
1. Caught between serving two masters: Technological advancement verses God.
I remember receiving my first mobile phone in the late '90s. Before that, l was hightailing it to a pay phone every time l wanted to ring someone when l was on the go. Similarly, l am grateful for the invention of the internet. Teaching myself make-up application from YouTube tutorials jumpstarted my freelance career as an SFX and make-up artist.
However, at some point, my life began to revolve around my devices, apps, and feeds. I was more intrigued by the scintillation of the internet and social media than being in God's presence.
When it got to the point that l was tempted to check my WhatsApp messages during church services, l knew it was time to cut the digital umbilical cord.
It is almost scary how easily we allow the digital world to rule our lives. God says in Matthew 6:24 that we cannot serve two masters. When we can't stop scrolling through social media feeds or we just have to play one more game of "Candy Crush" on our phones, then we're relying on technological advancement to get through life and we're not relying on God.
These days, instead of looking at my phone when l get up in the morning, l thank God for the day He has made (Psalm 118:24). During my worship time with God, l turn off all my devices. If someone wants to get in contact with me during this time, they can leave a message. In church, l switch my phone off before the service starts.
2. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
Every day when l get up in the morning, my focus is to spend those first hours of the day with God in His presence.
However, more often than not, by the time l give my one-eared pussycat his breakfast and start brewing my first cup of coffee, my mind starts formulating a list of all the activities l want to do that day. I start to get so nervous at the thought of not experiencing any of these events, that l become tempted to exchange my delegated worship time for the pursuit of my other endeavors.
Today's fast-paced society is derived from an oversaturation of choices. Our anxiety at missing out on an experience is making us run from pillar to post - we're suffering from FOMO!
In such times, l go back to the Bible for guidance. Matthew 6:33 highlights seeking God's kingdom first above all things. After that, God will provide us with everything we need, including experiences. l have learned that God has to be the encounter l need to have FOMO about - not the pursuits of the world.
3. We worship the things of this world, instead of God
One of my favorite recreational pursuits is to go to the gym. Although l work out to promote a healthy lifestyle, a part of me is very aware of the "body goals" that are being portrayed on Instagram and splashed across the celebrity pages of magazines. Sometimes, when l lift weights, l question myself as to whether l should be striving to attain the highly sought-after peach emoji booty instead of accepting the body that God gave me.
The pursuit of a certain aesthetic, acquiring the latest version of the iPhone or constantly showing off photos of our dream partners and our exotic holidays on Facebook - these are portrayed as "goals," but in reality, they are societal pressures engineered by the world to woo us into worshiping them, instead of worshiping God.
Romans 12:2 encourages us to not conform to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by a renewing of our minds. When l find myself going down the rabbit hole of superficial pursuits, l need to stop and remind myself that the only truly worthy pursuit is that of seeking God's presence.
We are only temporary residents in this world, but God's love for us is eternal. When we consider that Jesus made the ultimate choice to give His life for us at the cross, then making the decision to spend time with God in worship and praise suddenly becomes a lot easier, and the choices of the world begin to quickly pale in comparison.
Copyright 2019 Madeline Twooney | Photo credit: Xan Griffin
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