by Whitney Miller
"Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them! Let the trees of the forest sing, let them sing for joy before the Lord, for He comes to judge the earth. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever." (1 Chronicles 16:32-34 NIV)
It was springtime and the women from our church in Connecticut were heading out to our annual retreat by the sea. The speaker, a dear friend of mine, wanted to teach the women how to listen to God’s voice by waiting before Him in silence. Our women’s group was composed of a bunch of former New Yorkers and as such, we were talkative and opinionated. This would be new territory for many of the women, including me. Oh sure, I had heard the voice of God before, but it usually came as an interjection in the midst of my incessant self-talk. External silence was easy enough. Internal silence? Nearly impossible.
There were various teaching sessions throughout the weekend, punctuated by breaks spent in silent meditation on a particular truth from God’s Word suggested by the speaker. The capstone of the whole weekend was unveiled the morning of the last day. After morning worship and some brief instructions, we were released to spend a solid hour in silent meditation. No reading, no singing or writing, no assignment; just an hour spent attending to God’s voice.
I chose to go back to my room to avoid distractions and though it was raining lightly, I sat out on my balcony facing the water. At first, I must admit it was difficult for me to keep my mind from wandering, but then it happened - God drew my thoughts away to the scene before me.
It was a chilly, drizzly morning in early May. The sky was uniformly lifeless and gray. The seas, also, were gray; but unlike the sky, they were far from lifeless. As is often the case in inclement weather, they were turbulent, gathering up and rushing to the shore full of foam, sand, seashells, crabs and other trinkets. The waves would deposit their treasure on the beach, then retreat back to the depths to gather more treasure and return. The air, weepy and still, was punctuated by seagulls, which flew around in lazy circles uttering their melancholy song.
It was then that I was transported in my spirit to a scene from Revelation 4. The seagulls circling and singing became the four living creatures, and the words of their song took on articulation as they sang,
"Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty,
Who was, and is, and is to come!" Rev 4:8 (NIV)
The waves of the ocean became the twenty-four elders, dressed in white with golden crowns on their heads. As the seagulls circled and declared the holiness of God, the ocean came and fell on its face, casting its golden crowns at the feet of the One who sat on the sandy throne. In so doing, the ocean declared,
"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being!" Rev 4:11 (NIV)
In that moment I saw before my eyes the manifestation of Jesus' declaration to the Pharisees:
"I tell you, if they [the disciples] keep quiet, the stones will cry out!" Luke 19:40
In its obedience to God's form and function, in following the instincts, patterns, times and seasons God has ordained, creation acknowledges the wisdom, power and righteousness of its Creator God. It cannot choose whether to praise God or not; as long as creation exists, it declares the glory of God.
We human beings are the pinnacle of God's creation and the only creatures to bear His image. We alone, in all creation, have the right to choose whether or not to worship God. Worship, or ascribing “worth-ship” to God, is so much more than singing. We worship God every time we acknowledge Him in all of His glorious attributes. Whether we choose to honor God in this way or not, it doesn't change the fact that He is worthy of our praise. It merely reveals whether we have agreed with the rest of creation about His majesty and power, humbling ourselves to lift Him high.
There is unspeakable joy in letting go and acknowledging God for who He is. There is a witness from all of creation and from the Spirit of God inside of us as we do so. It occurs to me, as I reflect on that day in Connecticut, that all was dreary, wet and gray there; yet the sobriety of the setting did not impede the worship of creation one bit. Worship is not about our vantage point, our preferences, or our feelings; it is about who God is - all the time.
Sometimes, before we can truly acknowledge God and ascribe “worthship” to Him, we have to quiet our minds, get into God’s presence and let Him change our perspective. Won't you carve out some time to wait in silence upon the Lord until you perceive His majesty, power and love? Once God has revealed Himself to you, worship will flow from you as naturally as breathing. Then you can join creation and the hosts of heaven in casting down your crowns and declaring the glory of God, not just on Sunday mornings, not just when you feel like it, but at every moment of every day of your life? When you choose to do so, there is a blessed confirmation that echoes back from all around you. Yes, the Lord is worthy!!