Today I read Acts 1,2,and part of 3. I generally read until something sortof hits me, until the lesson I need that day jumps off the page and catches hold of me and says, "This! Right here! This is what you're supposed to think about today! This is the lesson you need to hear!" Today, the scripture that shouted at me was the story of the apostle Peter healing the lame man outside the temple gate. The man had been crippled since birth and had begged for his living outside the temple of the living God. I can think of nothing more contrary to the nature of this God than tossing a few coins to a beggar and then going in to the temple to go through the motions of worship. Isn't that crazy? How can the people of God leave this man outside the gate that is called Beautiful with a few coins or a smile and nod and then go in to the temple, leaving him on the outside?
Anyway, back to our story. The man asks Peter for money and Peter says, "Silver and Gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!"
The man gets up and finds he is healed and immediately begins walking and leaping and praising God. Then he goes into the temple and walks and leaps and praises God. Can you imagine the scene? This man who had sat outside the gates for years was so grateful to finally be able to walk that he couldn't keep silent about it. Nor could he just walk around like it was no big deal. He didn't just walk, he leapt. All those regular everyday people who were just there because it was expected of them must have felt pretty uncomfortable. They must have been shocked at the unbridled joy and praise of this man.
If someone started leaping in my church, I'd think they were high or else the sort of "I'm-more-spiritual-than-you" sort of Christian. How cynical is that! That's a horrible thing to think about another believer. How can I judge what the Spirit is doing in another child of God? But I probably would.
This makes me ashamed of my cynicism and it makes me ashamed of my quiet, buttoned down, rolling-my-eyes-at-lyrics-I-don't-agree-with singing. It makes me ashamed of standing in one spot while I feel my spirit moved.
God is praised in the stillness and in the noise. Worship in quiet can be just as powerful as a joyful noise. Don't get me wrong about any of that. What I'm ashamed of are all the times when I really felt grateful and joyful and I really felt that my praise was too big to get out of my body but I kept still anyway out of embarrassment or fear or a desire to blend in. Jesus doesn't require me to blend in!
I am a child of God! I am beloved! How can the joy and praise of someone so loved be contained in a quiet, don't-draw-too-much-attention-to-myself kind of worship?
I jotted down a little poem after reading this story and I'm going to post it hear so that all 5 of my readers can see it. Here it is.
My praise is calm and dignified
a shadow of what is real.
I'm cynical and skeptical
afraid of what is showey
What would happen if I let it out?
If I walked and leapt and PRAISED?
Would I be embarrassed?
Would I be ashamed?
If I danced and leapt in praise
would my praise be any deeper?
If I worshiped that bravely
Would I be braver?
Am I brave enough to be that brave?
Can I step out like that?
Right now, I just don't know,
But I want to.
I'm just going to hit publish before I get embarrassed of this too.