Written by Mike Verkaik, Oceans Director of Missions & Outreach
About two weeks ago I had a wonderful visit with Jenna* at the motel. Jenna is 13 years old and loves Jesus. If I bring my speaker to play worship songs during dinner, Jenna will sit close by, singing softly along as she takes it all in.
Jenna loves to worship and due to the pandemic and hurt feelings, she has missed congregating with others since June 7. As the dinner came to a close she said to me, “Pastor Mike, I miss worshiping on Sunday, my parents have not wanted to attend lately.“
Jenna’s passion for worship brought me to the words written in Psalm 84:1-2.
How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh cry out for the living God.
Last Sunday Jenna’s parents gave her permission to worship with us. Waiting in front of the motel to pick her up my wife, Dawn, saw some movement in the window curtain and her smiling face appeared. She entered our van with that same glowing face, saying, “ I woke up at 6am, I am so excited to go to church again.”
Driving away from the motel I had no idea what God was preparing to teach me through Jenna. This past week my wife, Dawn and I talked about our worship time with Jenna and wrote down five observations. I would like to share two of them with you.
First observation: Walking into the worship center that Sunday, I have to admit my disappointment when I realized the music was the piano and a couple of singers. My thoughts were, “Father, why is this the Sunday the worship band is not here. I want Jenna to experience the best our church has to offer.” As each song passed I quietly asked Jenna, “Do you know this song?” She shook her head no as she kept her eyes focused on the screen up front.
As Jenna and I talked after the service I began to apologize for the absence of the band and praise songs that she loves to sing. Before I could finish my explanation she spoke a dagger to my soul when she said, “ Pastor Mike it didn’t matter. It was just so good to be worshiping and I sang the words anyway!”
Second observation: Our children’s coordinator does a wonderful job of engaging kids with passion and creativity. As she came to the front she asked this question, “What do you do when you are scared, worried, or don’t know what tomorrow will bring? She went on saying, “When I am scared of the dark, I pull out my flashlight!!”
I am not sure if Jenna owns a flashlight or not, but after that statement she had a puzzled look on her face, and she leaned over and said, “Pastor Mike, when I am scared and worried, I pull out my Bible and begin to read it.” My heart melted as my face smiled, knowing Jenna had just speed dialed through all the examples and landed the main point before our coordinator did.
Oh the simplicity of worship. It is something God has had me grappling with for some time. Seeing Jenna’s heart for just being in His presence with His body is another in a series of examples God has given me of what authentic worship looks like. Worshiping in the townships of Africa, in the mountains of Colorado, and with a small body of people hungry for more of the Holy Spirit are all other examples of the body of believers moving away from being consumed by a product to being consumed by the beauty of God.
One thing I do know. This past Sunday I wanted Jenna to experience the best church our staff could offer. What she wanted was the best church our Father offers.
Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.
- Story used with permission and name has been changed.