I have been playing the bass guitar for nearly a decade. I began when I was a teenager and over time have learned to play from the different styles and techniques of musicians I admire. It took a few years and a lot of practice to get where I am and stay focused on where I am going but today I am happy to say music is still a huge part of my life.
I have always believed the bass is an instrument that can stand alone beautifully. It is an understated instrument that can pack a great deal of power, but I like its sound best in the presence of other musicians. When I began playing, I didn’t realize that my very first guitar (a purple, heart-shaped Daisy Rock with four Ernie Ball strings) would teach me more about God and life than it ever would about music.
Being a musician is not something that just happens. There are some prodigies out there who can hear a song once or twice and repeat it effortlessly. Some can compose beautiful music in less time than it takes most of us to listen to our favorite album, but no matter how talented you are, you will always need practice. Although music is a creative form of expression it takes years of discipline, focus and sacrifice. As a failed violinist at the age of 15, this was something that I had to make myself understand.
Psalm 33:3 was very helpful in getting my mind right about music. It says “Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise” reminding us to play our instruments to our best ability. This is a verse that meant a lot to me when I decided to start playing the bass more seriously and focus on vocal exercises to improve my sound. This was one of my favorite verses to share with bandmates but it is only now that I truly understand what more it can mean.
Yes, worship can be performed through beautiful music. Sometimes there is nothing more powerful than a song. Where regular words may fail, carefully composed lyrics and a melody given for such an atmosphere can make all the difference. However, that is not to say that music is the only method of worshiping the Lord. Just because you do not play music, it does not mean that you do not contribute to the melody of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Bible has so many scriptures that give us examples of worship. Some of my favorites can be found in the book of Psalms such as Psalm 96:1-3 which says, “Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless his name; Proclaim the good news of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his wonders among all peoples.” It is a great verse to look to because it never asks the impossible of us. It never mentions a need to play an instrument or be able to dance or even know how to sing in key. It just reminds us to bless God each day and celebrate the freedom we have in salvation.
Maybe it’s not that every instrument has to be played or that you have to have a beautiful singing voice to worship with. Maybe worship is just anything you do that requires time, energy and sacrifice just because you know it will bring joy or glory to the Lord.
Another defining verse can be found in Hebrews 13:15, “Therefore by him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name.” There is not a single thing in this scripture that says you must be a talented artist of some kind to worship God. It gives us the most basic instructions to simply offer God our praise and use our lips to thank him, showing our thankfulness and how much we appreciate him.
Worship is defined as “The feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.” It can be brought on by a feeling and when we have a strong feeling about something, an action is sure to follow. Though just because one person expresses a feeling one way, it does not mean that all have to do the same.
For example, when some people get angry, they feel the need to cause destruction. They may harm someone physically or damage property. In other cases, a person may feel the need to cry when they are angry. It does not mean the feeling was not real just because their reaction was different. In the same way that people react differently to very real feelings, it does not make the feeling of reverence and adoration for God any less worthy just because one person decides to worship differently than another.
See, your instrument may not be a set of drums but perhaps you chose to be kind to a stranger just because you have found fulfillment in the love of God. This is an act of worship. You may never be able to play a single chord on the guitar, but when you get up early to work your barista job at the coffee house, you can make it your goal to make someone’s day brighter just because you’ve got the joy of the Lord.
Maybe it’s not that every instrument has to be played or that you have to have a beautiful singing voice to worship with. Maybe worship is just anything you do that requires time, energy and sacrifice just because you know it will bring joy or glory to the Lord. This could apply to your time reading the Bible and especially your prayer time, as worship (including praying and reading the word of God) can change your life by changing the way you think.
Romans 12:2 says “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Worship helps to renew our minds because it helps us to remind ourselves of every reason we have to be thankful to God, it helps us have a better understanding of God’s character and it fills our hearts with joy. When we are thankful, it’s pretty hard to complain. When we begin to understand God’s character, we can better understand that his plans are always good. When we have joy, we have strength even to get through a tough situation.
In a season of life in which the Lord is specially reminding me that he cares deeply for every prayer and is faithful to the faithful, it came out of somewhat of a heavy heart that I really had to believe this is enough. Prayer is this personal moment in which we get to whisper into the ear of the creator of a world what we vainly attempt to carry alone on our own shoulders too often. We all wish we could help everyone we meet but when the only thing I can do with 100% of myself is pray, I need to get over the foolish idea that it’s not better than something else because this is more than enough.
In a moment of prayer we are closely bending the ear of the one who created every resource we would wish to give and the person we long to give it to. In no way is this concept complicated and yet when we pray, we show the ultimate form of love and reverence to God. Even when there is not a single note to be played or church building to go inside of.
Worship is more than a song, strung together by talented musicians and fanciful instruments. It is more than a wish or a belief, more than a place or an idea. It is the genuine surrender made each day to the Savior we put our faith in.
Our worship to the Lord is beautiful when it stands alone but it is always at its best in the presence of other people who love God. We turn up the sound of the Kingdom of Heaven by worshiping together. No matter your instrument or method of worship, when you do so honestly and skillfully without trying to force the outcome, it will always make sense. Just like my bass every time I get to take the stage.