As 2013 turns to 2014 there is a lot more than time shifting. There seems to be a shift in my heart to a greater surrender - a greater give up - a greater desire to let go.
So. In case you were wondering, the word of the year for 2014 for me will be 'Surrender’.
IT ALL STARTED WITH A PAINTINGSeveral months ago, I purchased an oil painting of three dandelions - all in various forms of bloom. The first, having just turned from yellow to white - still tightly closed. The second, bursting forth it's white array in a perfect sphere, and the third with seeds on the wind, in the process of letting go. It has become so meaningful as I look ahead to 2014 and what surrender means to me.
Symbolically, I see the whole of my 2013 in that first bloom: That yellow headstrong flower that miraculously turned into something completely different. A metamorphosis not only in color, but in form. No longer naive, but hopefully a little wiser and ready for the next adventure. In the same way a real dandelion in that form is hard to kill, I see the way my heart experienced more that it's fair share of blows at the root - and survived.
My mind's eye sees this coming year portrayed in the next two blooms. In the first, the Lord transforming the dry dreams of what-could-have-been into a wide eyed explosion of promise-for-what-can-be. In the second, a toes-on-the-edge-of-January kind of feeling where 2014 sits posed, perfectly positioned for the slightest bit of ambition to launch it into the great wide world of opportunity.
The common thread in all three blooms is that regardless of the outward appearance, at the core of who she is, that fresh yellow headstrong flower of 2013 is still locked inside. It's time that the blown-by-the-Spirit's-wind white fluffy shell emerges and surrenders to the need to be changed, moved and rooted in the awaiting ground of the coming year. DRAWING CONCLUSIONS Recently, I discovered some interesting information about this weed I've come to love. Interestingly, the genus name given to the dandelion derives from the Greek word taraxos, which means tara(disorder) and axos(remedy). Ironically, I see my name in the thing. Not that my life is in disorder, but that maybe just maybe in my little corner of the world I'm called to be a "disorder remedy" for wherever the seeds of my life, my influence, my family, my team, my ministry may land.
In Persian, it is called qasedak, meaning the "small postman", because of a belief that it brings good news. In Greek, its seed (and most often the plant itself) is called a kleftis meaning "thief" because it is very difficult to catch once airborne. Doesn’t that just conjure up the most beautiful metaphors about how we should live our lives… and how once powered by the Spirit, we’re basically unstoppable??
I've also discovered that the dandelion closes it's flower at night, and reopens to face the sun each day. Draw your own parallels, but it's a reminder for me rest and be intentional with the direction I choose to grow and bloom - gathering all my strength from the Son of God.
I just love how God pretty much screams at us through His creation
if we are open to the sound.
SURRENDERING TO THE WIND OF HIS SPIRIT
2014 is going to be amazing. I will burst forth out of January with the hope and zeal of the 'new thing’ that I perceive and will surrender all I am to the wind of the Spirit so He can grow and multiply in me the best of what this year can hold - just like a field of white dandelions.
In the letting go - that's where the beauty is. That's where the ministry happens. That's where The Lord can do his work in us. Let go.
2014 - look out. The Holy Spirit’s wind is setting me in motion. It's time to surrender.
When we gather on a weekend, there are many things that are considered: what songs will best connect with the congregation, which ones of those best help to support the message, what does the Lord want to say through worship, how can we make the experience excellent and on and on.
Within that, however, I have a deep desire for the church to know certain things about corporate worship - what it is and what it isn’t. So since you asked (!)… here’s my little list:
1) It’s not about them.
We are so glad that they have come, but if worship is only about pleasing them with the style, the song, the number of songs, the sound, the video… then we’re worshipping those that have come and not Jesus.
2) It’s not about us.
Yes, we work diligently and put a lot of prayer equity, rehearsal and intentional planning into our worship sets and the weekends, but if it is only to showcase our musicianship or vocal ability… then we’re worshipping ourselves and not Jesus.
3) It’s not about the songs.
Worship is a living-it-out demonstration of our relationship with Jesus. While music is one way we can express that, it is certainly not the only way. If worship is focused only on the latest song or the most reverent hymn… then we’re worshipping the song and not Jesus.
4) It’s not about the experience.
Creating an environment where people can freely worship and can do so free from distraction is a certainly an important goal, but if it's only about the lights, or the sound, or the cameras… then we’re worshipping the production and not Jesus.
5) It is all about Him.
A corporate gathering is a time for us to come together to express our love for Him and experience His power and presence. It’s an opportunity to say, ‘Thank you for your goodness in that situation’, or ‘I can see your faithfulness this week’, or ‘I need you, this situation is hard, but it’s drawing me closer to you’. Singing loudly or reverently listening, it’s about connecting our hearts with His, acknowledging His holiness, and allowing Him to specifically speak to us.
While we certainly can have different expressions within corporate worship that include a variety of styles and preferences, it is key that at the core of all of those, details are laid aside and the focus be connecting with Jesus. It is all about Him.
Tara is Greg's girl, mom to two sons of thunder, a hunger fighter, big dreamer and worship pastor at seacoast church.