Worship in the Pause – Day 17 of Handmade


I want to move. To change seats.

My intentions were good. But this is too much.

It’s the smell.

Worship in the Pause

It’s the first Saturday of the month, Outdoor Church day. But today it’s inside because of the rain.

I look for the dirty when I choose my seat.

If I sit by the cleaned-up Christians like me, what’s the point of showing up at Outdoor Church? I can get that on any given Sunday at my regular church home.

So I sit by an older gentleman that is obviously different from me.

But two breaths in, I want to sit elsewhere. The stench is too strong. A mix of cheap cigarettes and no baths makes for a distinguishable smell.

Outside, it’s not so noticeable.

But inside, it stinks.

Just Stay Still

If I get up now, would I seem rude?

I pause.

Oddly enough, in the pause is where genuine worship can be birthed.

It’s the moment we’re deciding what to do next, what our truest priority is, who we will put first.

I glance at the old man’s clothes out of the corner of my eye. Ragged blue jeans. Worn-down tennis shoes. Dirty cap sitting on his dirty knee.

I preach to myself,

Stay put.

Don’t walk out.

Don’t squirm or turn your head or take fewer breaths.

Just sit still in the pause.

It’s the most radical worship I can offer in this moment.

An Inside Job

I’m keenly aware of my shallowness in contrast to God’s holiness. How can I walk away from my repulsiveness when it’s an inside job?

Outside, it’s not so noticeable.

But inside, it stinks.

I stink.

I sense my own need for grace. For a fresh blowing of the Spirit.

The preacher quotes John 3:16, and my homeless friend mumbles it along with me. The teen praise band sings on with Oh, how he loves us.

Pastor Mike reminds us the clear message today is God loves each of us, just as we are.

Breathe in Fresh Spirit

I can’t help but grin at how God is playing this, working on me with such divine finesse.

After the service, I ask the gentleman, “How’s it going?”

He answers, I lean in hard, but I can’t discern his words. No teeth, combined with a muddled mind, makes him hard to understand.

I simply smile and say “Uh-huh” and “Yes” and “Wow” when each seems appropriate.

I interrupt to invite him to the hot meal prepared next door. But he keeps talking to the air. So I eventually slide out of his vision while he’s in mid-sentence, even though I feel guilty about it.

I take a big gulp of fresh air.

Even in the rain, maybe especially in the rain, it tastes delicious.

And I thank God.

For keeping his seat when I sit down beside him with my stink.

For pressing in closer instead.

For not waiting until I’m cleaned up and sanitized before he accepts my worship.

Oh, how he loves us.

Just as we are.

Three Questions

Here are our three questions of the day:

(1) Do you like intermissions/halftimes/time-outs? Or would you rather keep going straight through?

(2) When do you have to count to ten to keep it together?

(3) Have you had a pause lately, a holy moment of worship?

* * *

What are your answers? Please share in the comments.

My answers

(1) Sometimes I’d rather skip the intermission and stay in the flow.

(2) When I feel disrespected is when I’m most likely to lose it. I should count to 100.

(3) Hearing a moving lyric while singing in the car has brought me to tears lately over the awesome love of God for me.

More here

  • Hit the Pause Button
    Does your wound need space to heal? Jesus invites us to hit the pause button. There is healing in the pause.
  • Stop the Rush
    Monastics have a practice called statio: stopping one thing before beginning another, rather than rushing from one task to the next. Take time to pause.
  • Don’t Try Harder
    “The essence of loving living as a follower of Jesus isn’t in trying harder but in enjoying more….Enjoyment empowers effort.” – Sam Storms

Get the whole Handmade series here

Handmade - Finding God in Your Story

revised from the archives

6 thoughts on “Worship in the Pause – Day 17 of Handmade

  1. Danell

    My most recent pause was in the middle of an outburst from my strong willed child, it was so difficult to hold it together. But when I sat down and asked her about her walk with the Father she just started sobbing. I know she is struggling spiritually and it has caused the ‘week’ we are having. She needs prayer more than consequences.

  2. sue

    love this, Lisa! it’s easier outside to come alongside the needy. And God gave you grace and insight. Sometimes it’s not the homeless that “stink” – it’s me!
    I’ve asked a guy I walk by often what’s he reading – he gave me the whole synopsis ! I’ve left him books. Next step: invite for Thanksgiving!

  3. Barbara Harper

    I would have a hard time staying put in those circumstances, too. I remember in one of Isobel Kuhn’s books her frustration when the tribal people she ministered to did things like wipe their noses on furniture or hold a baby over the rug to urinate – not because they were mean and thoughtless, but because they didn’t know any better. They didn’t have “nice things” themselves. Once an older woman missionary told her about having to learn to put her arm around shoulders in ministry even though the people were covered in lice. There is so much our flesh reels against, but like you pointed out so poignantly, Jesus reached out to us in our repulsiveness as well.

    1) It depends, but most times I like the break. I usually need to head to a bathroom before any event is over. 🙂

    2) Oh, so many times. I should actually try counting.

    3) Recently I was praying/lamenting about something just before my “quiet time,” and when I opened my Daily Light on the Daily Path, all the verses in that day’s reading were on the topic I had been praying about. I felt so loved and cared for that God answered me that quickly and that specifically.

  4. floyd samons

    I really appreciate the honest heart, Lisa. I ponder how often I’ve stunk on the inside.

    I like to plow straight through.

    I don’t count, but I take deep breaths without speaking.

    It’s been over a month, but it was face down in my carpet of my office…

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