[Part 5, Chapter 32]
“Holiday makers stranded due to volcanic ash” screams the headline.
Collectively, we all sigh enviously, “Poor dears!”
Bizarrely though, it’s not as we may assume.
When you’re on holiday, on a tropical island, away from the cares of the world, all you want is to stay longer.
However, when you’re compelled to stay due to volcanic ash or an airline strike, all you want is to go home.
The difference lies in wanting to be there out of freedom as opposed to being forced to stay out of compulsion.
Favour is never compulsion.
Our response to favour is not something to be forced either.
When we respond out of duty, we can develop a false view of God. Rather than seeing him as the distributor of favour, we perhaps see him as someone who has requirements of us. When we see him as demanding, we may attempt to meet those demands, in the process becoming religious and legalistic. Coming full circle, that prevents us from discovering what he is really like.
The way we realise what God is really like, is by magnifying the truth about him. We search his word, look for his promises, discover his character, and get to know his heart. We lay down striving. Instead, we rest in his goodness, kindness, generosity, and faithfulness. That’s when we discover he really is love, joy, peace, and patience personified. He doesn’t just bring them; he is them!
Magnifying God’s character takes place as we remember, rejoice, and give thanks. These are the most powerful weapons available to us. They sustain us in the favour gifted to us.
This is worship. Worship is where we look to him first. Worship is remembering, rejoicing, and giving thanks, looking to Father and his favour instead of looking to other things.
Celebrating God’s character, rejoicing in his promises, focussing on his essential nature as a God of favour, giving thanks for his goodness, these all set us free to have wonderful experiences of him. This leads us to an awareness of his ongoing presence, a presence that is our heritage because, through favour, we have been joined to Jesus.
Living in this is worship.
You’re worshipping right now.
You’ll be worshipping as you ponder this throughout the day.
You’ll be worshipping as you bless someone who cuts you off in traffic, forgive someone who has hurt you, and speak a kind word to someone who needs it.
You’ll be worshipping as you get together with two or three—or twenty or thirty—others to communally remind each other of God’s favour, celebrate that together, and send each other home favoured and free.
Worship is a life lived in the overflow of the favour that is yours.
No wonder Mary and Zachariah have something to sing about.