It's always been difficult for me to connect with God during a worship service. I'm not sure why -- I am a musician after all, so you'd think it would be my first choice of meeting God. But for some reason it's rare that I really feel my spirit connect with God's during the musical part of a worship service.
This Christmas season, I found myself at St. Andrew's Church in Mt. Pleasant. I owe a lot to this church, having gone here often in high school and always coming away a better person, as well as being continually impressed with their community. It was actually on a St. Andrew's trip to Creation Festival that I made the public declaration of faith that changed my life. Sixteen years later, I still see the light of Jesus in this place.
Despite the tremendous quality of this church and its worship team, as I stood in the pew with good friends singing Christmas carols and worship songs, I still felt disconnected. We might as well have been singing Jingle Bells! In fact, they gave everyone a little bell to jingle on the way in, which was fun, but didn't help with the worship experience as far as I could tell. And so I started asking God why I've rarely been able to connect during these services; what was in the way?
And then something cool happened as the worship leader explained why we were all given the bells. It symbolized everything we needed to let go of in life (I don't remember why, to be honest...maybe because the jangy-clangy noise?), and so we were all to think of whatever it was that was blocking us from God and toss it in a basket at the altar in lieu of Communion.
Letting go has been a theme in my life for the past several years, and I'm sure it was no accident that this was the theme in that worship service where I felt I couldn't connect with God. The striving that has marked my life for about a decade now has slowly been eroding away as I learn to let go of career, finances and what it means to have a home. I still have so, so much to learn and even more to let go of, but that night I think I got some answers as to what is blocking me from knowing God better.
Maybe you have some of your own things to let go of. I don't have a digital jingle bell to send you, but consider writing whatever it is down and throwing away the piece of paper (or burning it on a Christmas candle, if you want to be dangerous!). Even the simple act of clenching your fists, imagining that detrimental thing and then opening them up can be a powerful reminder of what it means to hand all of that over to God, trusting Him more. Give it a try and let me know what happens in the comments! (Unless, of course, you start a fire. You're on your own then...)