[Part 2 of my musings on attending my first Christian conference. You can read Part 1 here – thank you for all those wonderful comments!].
So you’re thinking that everything changed that second day right? That I got out of my hotel bed with a new resolve, went back to the Deeper Still conference and dove in with verve and spirit and raised arms, right?
Yeah, no. I didn’t do that.
The second day of the conference I participated in exactly the same way as the first. I sang quietly. I looked around in awe and wonder at the worshippers around me. I did not kneel in the aisle. I prayed quietly. I did not shout out “Amen!” or even murmur under my breath. And the only time I raised an arm was to brush the bangs out of my eyes.
On the plane home from Birmingham I read the story of David and Goliath. Priscilla Shirer, one of the conference speakers, had referenced the story, so I felt compelled to reread it.
In the story, when David announces that he plans to kill the Philistine Goliath, King Saul offers him his armor:
“Then Saul gave David his own armor – a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before.” (1 Samuel 17: 38-39)
And then David did something unexpected. He took off the armor and gave it back to Saul:
“'I can’t go in these,'” he protested to Saul. 'I’m not used to them.' So David took them off again.” (1 Samuel 17:39)
David knew what didn’t fit; he knew what didn’t feel right to him. And more importantly, he had the confidence to know he didn’t need the armor.
David didn’t get caught up in what he looked like, or what he should be wearing as he went to battle. He didn’t care that he didn’t look like the proper warrior for God. He knew what worked for him. He knew his tools and how to use them to benefit God.
On the airplane from Birmingham, David taught me that God needs all kinds of Christians. The vocal, emotive, physically joyful praise is wonderful – it fits many believers like a comfortable glove. But I think God accepts the quiet, stoic, arms-folded Christians, too. He has ways to use us.
I’m not advocating that we never try a new form of worship or prayer. After all, David tried on Saul’s armor and even walked around in it for a bit. But he decided it didn’t fit. And that was okay.
For now, demonstrative worship feels like clunky armor to me. But quiet praise, with old-fashioned hymns and wooden pews and hands clasping the bulletin…now that fits like a cashmere glove.
Have you ever tried a new form of worship that felt right…or not quite?