Shall worship? Will-worship.


A brief thought on feelings at various moments; what happens when a time of great intensity suddenly dries up and praise feels hollow? What we offer is still of worth.

Without time to write a lengthy exploration, I will nonetheless jot down a little note about what it feels like to go through different experiences too quickly for comfort. A problem with Cambridge terms is that they go by very fast, yet still make deep changes. Indeed, our happiness goes up and down from day to day, and is largely irrelevant as a measure of how we are doing, but instead the slow trends in real feelings about things are the ones worth watching. The uniqueness of term therefore is the combination of extreme swings in surface emotions while still going through enough experience to have our more steady state shift under us too.

This brings a whole host of problems for the dutiful introvert working out what to do with his self-awareness, but the one I would like to mention is actually very simple, if not the simplest. When we are feeling fragile, or under steady pressures, each Sunday, each quiet time can turn into a torrential outpour of feelings. Then, losing a bit of sleep one night can suddenly turn the next day into work-obsessed barrenness. Was it really so important an issue, so strong a release to commit it each day to God, if from day to day that feeling can evaporate? It is easy to get confused by these things.

I would like to write more explicitly and thoroughly, but shall deliberately make only one comment. When we feel like worship is not happening in our attitude, what is left is will-worship, and the point is precisely that will-worship is a great and valuable thing. When we are not as strongly moved as before in praise or quite times, what is left is the conscious decision to speak praise to our saviour, to declare our commitment to keep on turning over the idolatrous pattern of though still there. Even if last week both of these had us in tears, and somehow not today, what is left has to be valued. What we do in our mind and thinking matters immensely, and the simple commitment to keeping on articulating the truth is precisely what we take joy in. Indeed, when we felt like bruised reeds, it was easy to take comfort, but the way to maturity when that feeling is gone is to carry on, trusting that this is another part of that slow movement of groundwater filling us up with a lasting inclination to joy.

What is the promise? That those slowly-shifting real feelings will be gradually moved to godliness, and the message to us is to instruct ourselves, ‘praise, my soul’, which is just that: repeating the truth to God even when the surface feelings and intensity evaporate and leave us with merely the privilege of honouring him simply. Who can require more of God than that?