Every human being on the face of the planet has an inbuilt need to dedicate themselves to something. We’re all drawn to something. We’re born to worship. If we don’t worship God we end up doing one of two things:
1. worshipping something/someone else
2. internalising this need and this only causes us to die inside
STONES, SECRETS and SONGS:
A Jewish rabbi once said that “a man should carry two stones in his pockets at all times. On one is inscribed ‘I am but dust and ashes’ and on the other is inscribed ‘for my sake was the world created’ and he should use each one as he needs it.”
I Am Dust and Ashes:
We can all identify with this feeling…
For My Sake Was the World Created:
Equally true is this feeling inside each of us. I know I was born for something.
“Dust and Ashes” is kind of like a ‘zero-point’. At the end of our lives we know this is where we will end up. And yet here in life our whole faith is intrinsically tied to worship at this Dust and Ashes level. Whether by crisis revelation, our mistakes, or someone else’s mistakes - when all is NOT going well – it is not a ‘sign’ that God is not with us, but we can understand that God is indeed with us however we are feeling or doing. We can still worship Him fully here.
However we don’t like it – we cover this ‘inadequacy’ or ‘insignificance’ up with all sorts of things… but it doesn’t make our Dust and Ashes worth any more.
It is meant to be a place where we hold up another stone:
“For My Sake Was the World Created.” Every star, every wave, every living thing was made for my enjoyment and wonder. Psalm 19 – the heavens are telling of the glory of God. Day to day pours forth speech and night to night reveals knowledge. Our own bodies are remarkable. Throughout history we have seen the result of incredible human accomplishment – Composers, artists, engineers, architects, scientists. But we also can’t get stuck here.
We try to balance it all. Matthew 22 – The lawyer who approached Jesus was having the same issue – “Which is the greatest Commandment” Jesus says focus (centralise) on “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, strength and soul and your neighbour as yourself” and everything else will fall into place.
Not so much about balance after all but about getting God to the centre and learning to worship Him at each end of the spectrum.
If we centralise Him we carry what it means to be a worshipper of God TO our families, TO our work, TO our neighbours.
Psalm 23 – even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with me your rod and staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, my cup overflows – even within these two very well known verses of Scripture we see both ends of this spectrum and the trust that the Psalmist holds in God at each end.
Ecclesiastes 5 – Guard your steps as you go to the house of God band draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools.
Worship removes layers. Life’s layers … childhood, education etc
Psalm 25 – the secrets of God are for those who fear Him. We begin to hear with new ears.
Psalm 19 – what am I missing today by not having connected with You and heard the way Your heart beats … secrets…
No straight lines; I don’t care about anything you’ve got if I don’t have your heart; The world’s a mess… but I’m making you whole and together…
I love it when you … give the shirt off your back, help your neighbour, go the extra mile etc.
I love widows and orphans.
Psalm 68:4 – Lift up a song for Him …
There is power in a song. Every nation has an anthem, the football teams have anthems. In “The Magician’s Nephew” (CS Lewis) when Aslan is creating the world he sings a song. In Tolkien’s “The Silmarilion” , Iluvatar (God) makes everything with a song.
It can shift us; it can shift the world around us. In Isaiah 54 we read
“Sing o barren” - OR it could be - Sing o broken one, Sing o lost one, sing o empty one. Should we only sing when we win, when we’re happy? Sing O barren … No
Why? – Because singing works against decay. It works against the tide of pessimism. It works against defeat. It brings light into darkness. It makes a statement of life even in the face of death.
A song can change us. Even if the circumstances do not change.
A song represents something that is beyond us. Getting a song to our lips is an amazing thing. Getting it past all the inhibitors, all the pain, all the distractions … Or getting it past our ears and into our hearts is a deeply profound thing – it SHIFTS us.
Paul and Silas in Acts 16 are sitting in the jail, singing and praying.
The song belongs to Him. In Luke 19 we read of when Jesus was riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and the crowd are singing out – praising God joyfully with a loud voice – and the teachers asked Jesus to rebuke them to which He replied “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out.” The song belongs to Him whether we sing it or not.
When we sing together we accomplish a different thing altogether. It unites us – this time in history.
We breathe together.
We sing about the same things by sharing a passion for the same result.
We realign our hearts with God.
We have an opportunity to ‘centralise’ Christ together...
Mark 14:6 – when Jesus is in the Garden of Gesthemene they sang a hymn –
When we’re at Dust and Ashes a song of worship is about trust and also about courage to make it to For My Sake Was the World Created – He wants to lift us, deliver us Psalm 74 – yet God is my King from of old. He works deed of deliverance in the midst of the earth.
When we’re on top of the world we should be able to have a devoted/worshipful heart to the God who made all things (Romans 11:36) knowing that in this life we are just a step away from Dust and Ashes.
Sing to God, sing praises to His name
Lift up a song for Him who rides through the deserts
A father of the fatherless and judge for the widows,
Is God in his holy habitation.
God makes a home for the lonely;
He leads out the prisoners into prosperity,
Only the rebellious dwell in a parched land.
That’s the God I want to worship …
That’ the God I want to lift up a song for …
That’s the God I want to hear from …
That’s the God who I know is with me, who is the centre of all that I am – whether I feel like I am ‘But Dust and Ashes’ or whether the ‘World Was Made For My Sake’.
1: Do you identify with these extremes of “Dust and Ashes” and “For My Sake”?
2: How does worshipping God and getting Him securely ‘centralised’ help with this?
3: Is there enough time and space to hear God’s heart?
4: What adjustments need to be made?
5: When you sing – does it make a difference?