Growing up, I had an abject aversion to people I called “tree-huggers.”
You know who I mean. Maybe. Nature-people. Folks who kept chirping about environment this, environment that. People who found joy and peace in being outside. They seemed strange to me, touchy-feely and more than a little mystical, and in no way related to anything I cared about in my life or my Christian walk. I eye-rolled all of it.
In fact, when a high school teacher of mine mistook me once for an early-morning nature-walker, thinking she’d seen me watching the sunrise on a hill by the school one day, my immediate response was laughter and a reassuring, “No way that was me.” I was always the kid, and then the teenager, who wanted to be inside. I hated Girl Scout trail walks (though to this day I can indeed identify poison ivy and certain edible plants), I hated sweating, I hated bugs, I hated outside.
God has a funny way of turning things around on us.
It started with my trip to Ireland, where I tromped around in mountains and forests and by the cold gray sea pretty much 24-7 and never, ever tired of it because I felt the presence of God so intensely there – and indeed missed it sorely once I returned. It continued with Philip Yancey, who joyfully shared his own delight in nature in his works, and then with my early-morning prayer walks. And now?
…well, now I go out a lot. I hike with my husband, I hike on my own, I go on my prayer-walks, I photograph a lot of nature scenes. I enthusiastically support my local metro park association and have driven to a local pond at the crack of dawn just to see if I can get the right picture of the rising winter sun over the water. I have become the early-morning nature-walker I once swore to my teacher that I could not possibly ever be.
It occurs to me that this is worship: a time of closeness to and acknowledgement of God for no purpose other than to be close to God and to acknowledge Him. To give Him His due. To enjoy what He made and has done and to praise Him for it.
And it feels strange, because I always associate worship with music. Whether that music kicks off with a guitar chord or the sound of an organ is irrelevant. I’ve conflated the two things to the point that I often don’t consider one without the other. If I am starting a dedicated “worship time” at home, I turn on praise music; if I’m at church, music indicates to me that we’re getting ready to go into worship time. Somehow, over the years, I’ve talked myself into believing that worship is a super-specific thing that only occurs within particular parameters.
And yet, I am pretty sure that I’m engaging in worship when I am out on my walks, spending time with God. I’m pretty sure that is what I am doing, sometimes, when I write. I imagine there are lots of other times I worship, too, that don’t involve music at all. It comforts me to think that in all the years I’ve been a Christian there are still new joys to discover, and new ways of doing the “old” things.
Let me encourage you today to find whatever you love to do and, while doing it, “ascribe to the Lord glory and strength…the glory due His name” (Psalm 29:1-2). Make your obedience an act of worship; your joyful hobby worship; your peaceful time worship.
Worship, like prayer, is for all seasons and all times. We can offer it unceasingly – and we don’t even need music.