I am one of those people who listen to music constantly—in the car, doing dishes, cleaning my room, pretty much anywhere I have a stereo available. Why? Because I … well, I don’t even think I know the answer to that anymore. I used to think it was because I loved music, but then I realized that everybody loves music. It seems that no matter what style it is, music is playing everywhere all the time.
But is it taking up too much of our time?
That question came to me one day while I searched through my CD collection for the umpteenth time, looking for something I wanted to listen to for longer than a few minutes. I began to realize that I really was not in the mood for anything that I had in my collection, not even worship music, not even the new Hillsong United CD. I began to ask myself, why, in all these 300 CDs that I own, can I not find anything I want to listen to? As the answer began to emerge, it surprised me.
I was sick of music.
Don’t get me wrong, I love music, I was just dissatisfied. I wondered why, with all the good music out there, how can I not find anything I wanted to listen to at that moment in time?
It was because I had used music to try and fill up the hole inside that only God could fill. I was spending time with the music He created instead of the author of it. I kept searching for more and more good worship music when I was really missing the whole point of worship.
Worship is a lifestyle, first and foremost. That sounds funny coming from a guy who grew up in a progressive church where dancing before God, praying in tongues and getting slain in the spirit all while experiencing awesome worship were the norm. But that’s just what it was for me. An experience. I fell in love with His creation, music and all our hopelessly inadequate attempts to come even a little bit close to describing how awesome our God is rather than getting to know the author of it all.
I had been worshipping worship.
Wait a second, you’re thinking, I thought idolatry is wrong … how is worship wrong? The American Heritage definition of an idol is “a person or thing that is blindly or excessively adored.” Sounds like I had violated Exodus 20:3—“You shall have no other gods [or idols] before me” (TNIV).
I thought worship brought me closer to God, but really, it is getting close to God that true worship comes forth. It is then that I can worship out of overwhelming desire to give back to God and proclaim His greatness with all that is within me rather than out of a desire to get the “warm fuzzies.”
Outside of church, I would put a worship CD on wherever I was and seek to feel closer to God, but I rarely cracked open the Word or did much praying when the music was off. As I listened, I would get to the point that all I wanted to do was worship God. Then I would finish whatever I was doing, turn the music off and continue about my day as if I hadn’t come close to touching the feet of God 5 minutes before.
This dissatisfaction in music came down to a lack of a solid foundation in Christ. I knew God, but I did not really know who He was. Undoubtedly, I was a Christian in every sense of the word (saved, born again, yada, yada, yada) but I wasn’t a God-follower. In my mind, I was still in my shallow days as a newbie when I should realistically have been way deeper.
However, God didn’t look at it like that. To my shallow, finite mind, my lack of spiritual growth was a failure on my part, but in God’s perfect wisdom, He saw it as a catalyst to draw me deeper in my walk with Him, the opening of a new chapter in my life in Christ. I looked at it as a plateau that I needed to overcome, but God saw it as a stepping stone to greater things.
I would like to say that things are peachy, and I’m on cloud nine, but that just isn’t the case (surprise!). I still have the same problems as any other college twentysomething. The difference is I was open to a problem area in my life that God revealed. I still play and listen to worship music, but I also strive to end every night in the Word, meditating on it “day and night” so I can “carefully to do everything written in it” (Joshua 1:8, TNIV) and ultimately live a lifestyle of worship.