Each one of us is made to worship. How we spend our life attests to what exactly we worship. Almost thirty years ago, I was blanketed with convicting guilt, where right to my core I saw myself as a person with misdirected worship. I had been the god of my life, I had been worshipping myself. I was a sinner and I needed salvation.
In Romans 3:10, we read “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”Romans 3:10
This was me- an altercation with my older sister exposed this fact to me and I was guilty. The Bible told me that the price of my sin was eternal separation from a holy God. Yet while I was in my sin, God through his Word, together with this truth being lived out in my parents’ lives, I came to see Jesus as the Saviour my heart was longing for. Jesus, was and is the promised solution for a worldwide misalignment of worship. Jesus, the God-man; fully God, fully man, entered the mess and muck of our world to demonstrate God’s fullness of love for us. For while we were sinners, Christ died the death I deserved, yet on the third glorious day, Christ rose again proclaiming he had defeated death once for all. In this, he calls each one of us to place our hope, our worship, our meaning for life, in the only one worthy of our worship- that is in him; our Creator God.
From these early years of seeing myself as a saved sinner, each day has been a journey with Jesus. He continues to convict me of my need for a saviour and continues to remind me through his word and through life that my worship needs to be directed towards him and him alone. Today, as I look at our world, and the longer I journey in it, I see that it is still messy, the only solution my heart sees remains to be found at the foot of that rugged cross where Jesus hung, his blood pouring out as an offering of salvation. Of this I cling.
I see people around me sick from misaligned worship, trying to patch the gaping hole with whatever fix we can find- money, status, family, popularity, possessions and yet the sickness of sin is woven into the fabric of who we are. None of us are good, not one. This is a jarring statement; for most of us spend our lives trying to be “good enough”, yet, who sets the bar? This innate desire to be “good enough” attests to the fact each of us has a moral compass, a desire to meet some level of goodness. I’m not sure about you, but all I need to do is step out of bed in the morning, before I recognise that idealised version of me seems a chasing after the wind.
When Jesus enters our individual world, he heals our brokenness. He doesn’t ignore the mess; like a mother visiting her university child’s apartment, God gets to work- cleaning, convicting, restoring; making us into his workmanship. God invites us into ministry with him and it is an invitation for us to join in with the song of creation, declaring the glorious good news of a God who came as a baby, grew, lived, walked, talked, died and rose again proclaiming a new way of seeing, a complete restoration of distorted worship, a healing to our brokenness. The good news of Jesus isn’t a band-aid to a broken world, it is the antidote. Jesus promises healing and wholeness.
When I was in Year 10, my parents told me they were moving to a small country town named Moree in North West NSW for Dad to be the principal of a small Christian school. I emphatically told them- thanks but no thanks. I’d continue living in Nowra with my grandparents and they were welcome to go off on their adventure without me. As my mother dropped me off at my Youth Group Bible study, her parting words to me were- the only place you want to be is where God wants you. I’m pretty sure I slammed the door and huffed to the front door. As God would have it, the Bible study was on the call of Abram- “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8) The gentle conviction of the Holy Spirit took these words and planted them in my heart, did I have faith like Abraham? When Mum picked me up, she wondered what had happened at that Bible study, as my words as I hopped back in the car were- I was wrong- I’m coming to Moree after all. Little did I know Moree would feature in my life in a fairly big way.
In Year 11 and 12, a young red-headed Moree-guy challenged me regularly in my faith on MSN, an online chat application. This guy questioned the motivation behind my decisions, urging me to make choices based on my faith rather than a desire for approval from people around me. This was scary. Little did I know, God would continue to use this relationship. David invited me to the Year 12 formal. We started dating and 2 years later were married (yes, back in Moree).
6 years later, we welcomed our precious daughter into the world, at Moree hospital in the middle of a flood. God used (and continued to use) this young lady and later her 2 siblings to show me of my continued need for Jesus’ saving grace. There is nothing like parenthood to show us our sin! At the end of 2013, we had a two year old and found out we were pregnant with our second child. I had had enough of Moree- I struggled to see beauty around me, I missed my parents who had moved a few years earlier, I felt isolated and on many occasions I cried out to God. After a beautiful weekend with my parents in Ballina, I decided I wanted to move to be closer to them and prayed that God would have this too.
On the Monday, a teacher at the Christian school in Ballina stepped back from some of his days teaching and a job became available. David went for the job and we moved, leaving Moree for what I thought was good. As we were packing though, I listened to a sermon online by Bryson Smith, a Presbyterian minister in Dubbo, where he declared- the country needs godly, country blokes to return. Those words stayed with me and over the 8 years we have been gone, we often discussed Moree. David was and is a Moree-boy and part of us longed for the wide-open spaces and slower pace we had out here. I also longed for my children to experience the mentorship and discipleship that I so gratefully experienced in Moree, a town I once knew little about.
During Covid Round 2, I looked at our three beautiful children and realised that they hadn’t experienced Moree country living. It was a town that filled a big part of Dave and my hearts, yet they didn’t know it aside from the yearly visit. For some reason, this grieved me. One day, as I popped online, I saw two teaching positions had come up at the local Christian school. I mentioned it to Dave. A few days later he brought it up again and encouraged me to ring the Principal and have a chat. Once again, 5 months later, I find myself in Moree, a town that for some reason has a firm place in my heart. I am surprised that it feels like coming home. Some mornings I wake up surprised that we are back here; it is like a glove that fits, yet our hands have grown older. I returned with the conviction that out here on the Plains, you cultivate beauty and a key way you do this is through investing in people.
Over the past 8 years of being on the beautiful coast, I feel God has refreshed my spirit. Over in Ballina, it was like the Garden of Eden- there was so much beauty, sometimes my eyes hurt from how green things were. During our years there, David and I grew and matured in our love and knowledge of God. We served together and we went through that season of parenting the very young. Some days at home with the children felt very long, but now I look back I feel that the season was short. Through life so far, I have come to see that God uses the pain from living in a messy world to continue to refine us, to cause us to cry out to him and to continue to realign our worship Godward. It is the cry of my heart that my three children would come to see their need for a Saviour.
As the Wesminster Shorter Catechism states, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” In Psalm 19 we read that “the heavens declare the glory of God that night after night they are pouring forth speech.” We live in the now but not yet. We know the truth of our need for salvation in Jesus and we live with eyes fixed on the day we will be promoted to glory to be with him forever. Yet now, like creation, we wait with groaning and expectation. We live in the mess yet we are invited to join with creation, partnering with the Holy Spirit to declare the wonders of our glorious God. Through being a wife, through being a mother, through teaching and through writing when I get the time, it is my hope that my life would attest to me spending my every breath to worshipping my Saviour, for in him we live and move and have our being. He alone is worthy of our worship (Acts 17:28).
So, this is part of my story of Jesus at work in my life. What about you? Who or what do you worship?