“Search me O God and know my heart….” (Psalms 139:23)
Once I knew were going to be living in Maracay, Venezuela for winter-ball I began to look online for any missionaries stationed there. My Internet search led me from one person to another until I was blessed with the names of a wonderful couple involved with the Maracay Community Church. The only Bi-lingual church in the city, the congregation there has continued the English speaking services in the hope that some of the people in the pews, who came only wanting to learn English, would learn of an Eternal Savior as well.
As I sat in the back pew on the first Sunday, I was overwhelmed at hearing the lengths the people in this small congregation took to simply “go to church.” Most did not have transportation and took buses or taxis, which can be hot, crowded and dangerous. Many came from long distances across the city and were burdened by many family and financial hardships. Yet, it was the overwhelming desire to hear the Word of the Lord and to be among fellow Christians that brought them every Sunday. It was a joyful place.
As I listened to the speaker, he shared with us how his heart had been heavily burdened that past week. His pregnant wife was caring for their very sick mother-in-law in Colombia and his travels back and forth across the border each week with his children was very stressful. In addition, his brother had been arrested and thrown in jail. Through his tears he shared how he still had hope amidst the storm. He shared how God was blessing his family even in the darkness. He felt blessed that his wife and children had remained healthy through the travels and how miraculously his brother’s life had been spared hours after he was thrown in jail, as a large massacre had occurred in the prison and many inmates were murdered. This humble man in the pulpit was sharing his heart and crying tears of joy with his church family. He was crying tears of hope and tears of faith. He was giving thanks to God for His goodness and thanks to his Christian family who helped sustain him.
Closing my eyes, I tasted the tears of my Christian brother on my own cheeks. What a heart of worship this man had! And it made me wonder. How often do we cry tears of hope and joy and faith for our Christian brothers and sisters? How often do we open our hearts in church? In an area like the United States we take for granted the ease with which we can get to church. How often do we sit with disconnectedness in the pews? How real is our heart in worship? How often do you sit among your fellow believers in church and cry for them? Whether it is hope or grief is your heart really there?
One of the most beautiful praise songs is Heart of Worship by Michael W. Smith. The song begins; “When the music fades and all is stripped away, and I simply come. Longing just to bring, something that’s of worth that will bless your heart. I’ll bring you more than a song, for a song in itself is not what you have required. You search much deeper within through the way things appear, you’re looking into my heart….”
Jeremiah 17:10 begins, “ I, the Lord, look into the heart….” Open and exposed, our Lord sees truly what our heart grieves for, hopes in, desires and worships. When we step inside the church, do we bring that heart to God? Do we turn to our brothers and sisters next to us and ask them what is in their heart? Can we praise with them? Can we cry with them?
I challenge you, like the little church in Maracay. Lets’ get back to the heart of worship, because after all, it’s not about us….
Prayer: Dear Lord, may you look deep into our hearts and cleanse us of all that hinders us from truly worshiping you. May you give us the courage to share and pray with our brothers and sisters what is in our hearts. Amen.
Suggested Reading: Matthew 22:37