Worship is the spontaneous, irrepressible cry of the heart when the glory of the Creator breaks in upon it. Sometimes it happens in a sanctuary or synagogue. It did in the case of Simeon when he took the baby Jesus in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace, For my eyes have seen your salvation… (Luke 2).” That was his way of saying that he had seen it all! That there was nothing left to live for. For this moment, he was born and had lived, and how his life’s purpose was fulfilled.
Sometimes it happens when we are under pressure, facing circumstances that are beyond us. That’s how it was for Jacob. He spent the whole night, alone, wrestling in the dark, on the muddy river bank with a man who was more than just a man. Afterwards, he could only talk about it in hushed tones and then only to say, “I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared (Genesis 32).” That’s the essence of worship, isn’t it? Seeing God face to face.
It happens, I think, more often than most of us realize. Usually we only see it in retrospect, and then we are undone. How could I have been so blind? How could I have been so dumb? Then we feel unworthy, sinful - like Peter who fell to his knees and cried, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man (Luke 5).” But he doesn’t go away. He stays with us, and we begin to see all of life through different eyes. That, too, is worship.
Once we begin to understand something of the mystery of His presence, all of life becomes a sanctuary and each experience, no matter how mundane, an opportunity to worship. The beauty of nature, the birth of a child, the majesty of a great piece of music, a wedding, a special book or movie, even the death of a friend or family member all become an invitation to experience His presence, an opportunity to worship.