Our souls, with their God-sized bandwidth, have near-endless capacity for expansion. That’s why when a story or a film or a piece of music or art (or a sports team), gets to our emotions, there’s this swelling sensation in our chest, and often a welling up of tears. Not sad tears, often happily overwhelmed, or post pent-up anxiety tears, because we’ve been inwardly transported, no longer aware of our immediate surroundings. Have you ever witnessed a sports fan jumping up and screaming encouragement – at his TV? Or professional athletes with tears in their eyes after a big defeat? a big win? Have you ever watched an all-engrossing film, and after the credits rolled, needed to re-orient yourself to your surroundings? (Years ago, a large group of us from church went to see Mel Gibson’s, The Passion of the Christ, with plans to go out for coffee afterward to discuss it. Well, we all left the theater in stunned silence, with no one giving the least thought to coffee, much less chatting and visiting). Have you ever dreaded saying goodbye to the friends and family you’ve come to love – in the reading of a book? Have you ever been a participant or bystander in something so incredible you found it almost impossible to describe it afterwards?
One of my early, favorite authors was Leon Uris, who wrote 500-page historical fictions. My first read of Exodus had me powerfully hooked (two more reads would follow – and now that I think of it, maybe a third re-read). A soaring, exquisitely painful, music score accompanied the made-for-TV series, Band of Brothers and is still a music favorite. The cello is haunting, mesmerizing! (it’s the only full score CD we’ve ever purchased). My favorite, now ancient, TV movie, with lots of family drama and pathos, not even close to being a blockbuster, is The Gathering (a must-watch show at my house every Christmas!)*
All these highly emotional responses point outward to something or Someone, bigger, grander, above us on an entirely different plane. As God’s redeemed ones, now free from the law of sin and death and forever completely forgiven, the scope of our being drawn upward is expanded exponentially. In extraordinary moments of transcendence (moved beyond physical reality and the present moment) it feels we’ve touched Heaven! There are numerous testimonies of powerful God encounters where the one on the receiving end felt they had to cry out for the experience of God’s love to stop, lest they die!
A recent definition of ‘worship,’ by Richard J. Foster, sheds some light on these times: ‘Worship is a way of acting and living that sets us before God, that He may transform us.’ I love that! As our everyday, ordinary lives are oriented to God, our very life posture places our souls intimately face-to-face with God so He can continue his beautiful transforming work in us! Yes! Amen! PD
*If you would enjoy this exercise, I would like to compile some of your ‘favorites,’ those things which have/have had a significant impact on you. And please, I know this is challenging, but try really hard to find words to describe the ‘why’ of their place in your life as your favorites. Thanks!