by Morgan Stephens
How can we navigate between what we have to do right now, and who we want to become in the future?
How can we manage the tension between present and future?
One way is through the practice of worship: bringing Jesus’ power from the future (Matthew 19:28) into this present moment.
Phillips Brooks, a well-known nineteenth-century Episcopal minister, described worship like this:
“Worship is living in our first cause, while existing in a world surrounded by second causes.”
He is saying in worship, we retreat to the real world, and not from it.
If Jesus’ glorious, future power will renew all things, and if a foretaste of that power has been given to us right now (Titus 3:5), then why should we not open our hearts to exist, even for a brief moment, in the beauty of what the whole universe will be like, and allow that experience to shape us in the here and now?
I can remember as a college student, struggling deeply with feelings of rejection, going to a college student conference in Nashville, Tennessee. I had driven there from Houston, making a long trip in anticipation of receiving something from God.
As I entered the worship gathering, and the band began to play, sing and minister, I remember reaching out for God, and immediately felt a nearness and a presence so thick it took me aback. And from that “glory cloud”, I heard the words:
“Morgan, I have accepted you from before you were even born. Even if you reject yourself, it would have no power over you—for I have spoken first.”
These words entered my soul powerfully and changed me deeply—and they happened as I stood, open-hearted, in worship.
In other words, I retreated to the real world of God’s love for me, and was able to leave the false world of rejection behind.
What might happen today if you took a moment, were still, and reached out to heaven to speak to you today?
What if you asked for the grace to experience and live within the first cause of all things (God), and left behind all “second causes”—the pressure you feel, the deadline to meet, the bill to pay?
I’ll bet that your Heavenly Father just might meet you in an expected way today, as you “dwell” in His presence.
A Prayer to Pray:
Heavenly Father, would you open my heart to hear words from the “real world”? Would you help me to live inside the true “first cause”? Help me to dwell in silence and stillness for a moment now, and receive what you have for me.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
March 21, 2023