How to Use Worship as a Way to Move Toward God during Life Challenges

What is the first thing you should do after being rejected after a job interview?   Instead of giving in to negative feelings and behaviors, here is the secret of how to move toward God via worship when you are rejected by a prospective employer or you are challenged by negative circumstances in your life.

1.  Move toward God at the Moment of Rejection

More than once I have sat holding a phone to my ear in stunned silence unable to believe what I had just heard.  I sat through three minutes of accolades only to hear, “We’re going with another candidate.”  I know you, dear reader, can identify with that.  Most of us have been through that situation.  We’ve worked hard on knowing the information for the interview, we’ve rehearsed answers to the impossible questions, and we’ve asked God in quiet moments for His guidance and favor to get the job we are after.

The jarring aftermath of getting that phone call leads us to one place…well, it should lead us to one place.  Everything should lead us to one place…worship.

It is strange that I would think the only place to go after hearing “we’re not picking you” is before God to worship.  It is stranger still when you consider the job that I’ve been pursuing is that of leading others to worship.  What a weird place to be in.

I have had the unenviable task of sitting with a search committee and pouring my heart out about how worship should be a corporate event, but before that it needs to be a personal event borne out of a deep love and devotion to God that causes us to worship.  After a week of worship, the culmination is that the Body of Christ gathers to celebrate the week of worship and what God has done to glorify His name.  I talk about how the music at the church is not the most important thing I would do, but what is important is leading people to worship God in spirit and in truth because of what Christ has done in us.  I believe in a Gospel-centered church, and worship that is born out of knowing Christ as Savior.  After all of that, I get phrases such as:

“Wow, we can’t believe you’re not already on staff someplace else.”

            “We’ve never heard it put like that before.”

            “Our committee has never heard of someone with a philosophy of worship.  It’s very interesting and sounds like what our church needs.”

That’s when the feeling washes over me.  Words such as those have become a dagger to my heart, because I know what usually follows is a phone call to tell me that the committee is “going in another direction.”

Ever since I was fourteen years old I have believed that God placed a calling on my life to serve in a church as a minister of music leading people in singing of hymns and songs in direct praise of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  I went forward, gave my life to full time Christian service, and even went to seminary.

Thirty-four years later I have only served as part time staff and never full time.  “You’re a great singer” they say.  “We love your voice.”  Empty, hollow words.  I’ve never had a committee come right out and say that they will not hire someone who has been divorced, but they smile as they walk me to the door and never speak to me again.

This is not a pretty picture I’m painting.  I am not sugar-coating the process of becoming employed as a full time staff member of a church.

2.  Decide what direction rejection will drive you. 

Your situation may not be that different.  Your experience may be in the private sector.  Maybe you have been to interview after interview, said all the right things, had all the right credentials, had all the right references…and got what you thought was the wrong phone call or email.

Where does that drive you?  Do you run to the bar and over-indulge in alcohol?  Or maybe you run to the refrigerator and over-indulge in ice cream.  Maybe your heart, in its agony and shame, goes looking for comfort in two-dimensional pictures on the Internet.  (Like that’s going to help.)

Folks, it drives me to my face before God.  I may not literally fall face down on the carpet, but in my heart I take my devastation and hurt I run hard to God to find out what went so wrong.  In my “wait a minute, what happened” moment I go to God for the healing balm to soothe my wounded heart.  I run to the only thing that will keep the darkness from overwhelming me…worship.

The very thing I want to lead others in doing is what I do when everything has fallen apart.  When my plans shatter on the concrete of reality, I sing.  I may be in the middle of a broken heart and singing through tears, but the solace that I need is found in worshipping God.

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”  (John 4:23-24, ESV)

3.  When all else has failed, worship the Lord.

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.”  (Job 1:20, ESV)

Job lost his children, his house and most everything of value, yet he worshiped the Lord.  All that I am and all that I have comes from God, so even when it is taken from me I still worship the Lord because none of it was mine to begin with.   That is a hard place to be, but it is the only place to be.

Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!”     (Psalm 96:9, ESV)

            “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.” (Psalm 29:2, ESV)

“Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy!”  (Psalm 99:9, ESV)

“Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool!”  (Psalm 132:7, ESV)

“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!”  (Psalm 95:6, ESV)

I find no reference in any scripture found in the sixty-six books of the Bible that says, “When everything is going great, worship God!”  When you don’t get the job you think you should have, worship God.  When your kids don’t obey the first time, when car gets a flat tire, when the doctor says triplets instead of twins, when the unplanned becomes reality…worship God.

When his own son died, King David worshiped God:

“On the seventh day the baby died. But David’s servants were afraid to tell him the baby was dead. They said, “Look, while the baby was alive, we spoke to him, and he wouldn’t listen to us. So how can we tell him the baby is dead? He may do something desperate.”

When David saw that his servants were whispering to each other, he guessed that the baby was dead. So he asked his servants, “Is the baby dead?”

“He is dead,” they replied.

Then David got up from the ground. He washed, anointed himself, changed his clothes, went to the Lord’s house, and worshiped. Then he went home and requested ⌊something to eat⌋. So they served him food, and he ate.”  (2 Samuel 12:18-20, HCSB)

I believe that it is harder to worship God in the good times because we tend to lose focus.  Things are going well and worship of God becomes secondary.

I am still working for the same company that I started with almost six years ago.  This Sunday morning I will walk into church and step up on the stage to lead worship.  I’m not the minister of music.  I’m not in charge.  I still want to be those things.  I still want to be on a church staff, but I will still worship God even though my dream has not come true.  I will lead others to worship God.  I will sing for an audience of One.  I will set aside the things and stuff of earth that has come between me and God, and I will worship Him with abandon.

Why?

The apostle Paul says it best.  Grab hold of these words and hang on to them for dear life:

We know that the One who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and present us with you.  Indeed, everything is for your benefit, so that grace, extended through more and more people, may cause thanksgiving to increase to God’s glory. Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day.  For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.  So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”                                        (2 Corinthians 4:14-17, HSCB)

The rough, tough and rocky road of life has us go through things that would make us want to walk away from God, but we should run to Him and worship.  The stuff of earth is “momentary” and does not compare with what is promised to us in that place of perfect peace where Jesus is the source of all light.  For this reason alone we should worship God.

Pray with me:

Father, I worship You.  I come before You to acknowledge that You alone are worthy to be praised, adored and worshiped.  I set aside the things that have come between us.  I desire to worship You with abandon, and to worship You in the beauty of Your holiness.  Lead me in this path so that I may know you better, and live by the power of Your Spirit.  I choose to worship You, even if life is rough, tough and rocky.  You are the God I choose to serve, and the lover of my soul.  I worship You, and You alone.  For Your beautiful name I pray, amen.

 David sheltonCopyright  David E. Shelton  All rights reserved.