Worship: Always Expectant, Never Expecting

by Erin Wikle

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a Sunday morning worship service with the intention to encounter God solely for the purpose of personal gain. I don’t mean to be dramatic, but it’s true. It didn’t so much matter how I walked into service (chip on my shoulder, irritated with someone, lacking sleep) as long as I walked out feeling good about myself, reassured that whatever burdens I carried in were somehow “magically” and momentarily lifted.

I was a little more religious and a little more spiritually immature when these types of worship encounters occurred. This doesn’t mean I’ve got it all sorted out now, because I don’t – I’m no expert. But I do know this: too many of us, myself included, have the wrong idea about worship.

Worship isn’t about me. Not really, anyway. Am I an integral part of the worship process? Well, sure. Whether I’m standing with hands raised as I sing along with the worship team, or I’m sitting with eyes closed in quiet meditation as the brass band plays, or I’m alone in my living room, no music, no sound, no nothing – just me and my God, worship begins and ends as a love relationship.

A friend of mine shared this with me over coffee the other week, “My love for God should be always expectant, but never expecting.” That resonated with me. Always expectant, but never expecting. A love that loves not to get, but only to give. That’s a holy love.

The same principle applies with our worship, because true worship emanates from love. Otherwise, it’s cheap. It’s not real. Our worship of God should be always expectant, but never expecting. We don’t need to be concerned about what we gain, because out of our worship (personal or corporate) the supernatural byproduct of crowning him Lord of All is that we [better] know the Father and share in his glory (Romans 8:16). To know the Father is to love the Father. And are we really worried he won’t love us back?

What more is worship than what we give our attention, our time, our utmost regard, and ourselves to? (Consider your own idols: Facebook? Starbucks? Your girlfriend? Your instrument? Your Corps?) Choose what you will, but if you choose to worship the Lord, ensure that you give your all to him. Halfhearted interest is a cop out. And your Sunday morning encounter with the King doesn’t matter if your Tuesday-Saturday encounters don’t exist. Your relationship with Jesus, Facebook, Starbucks, and whatever else is what it is because you’re invested (or not).

Be encouraged. As our love relationship grows with the Lord, so will our awe of him. We need no other reason to worship him – we worship him for who he is.

How do we deconstruct faulty ideas about worship?

  1. Seek a heart deepened in love for the Lord. A love springing from heart, soul, strength and mind (Luke 10:27).
  2. Shirk the question of, “What am I going to get from this?” Come expectant, but not expecting.

Just for kicks… I asked my “almost 6 year old” daughter for her input on the matter:

 Me: Why do we worship God?

Eva: We worship God because we have to be with him sometime so we won’t get grumpy.

 (At least she’s honest. This is capacity in which she knows her God right now – he helps her not have a bad attitude.)

 Me: How do you love God?

Eva: I love him by loving him. And I love him when I get to see him when I worship him.

 How do you love God? Do you love him by simply loving him?  Do you see him when you worship him? Go before the Lord and say, “Here’s all of me!” Kneel before your King and sing praises to the [only] One who is worthy.

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