Recommended Reading: Psalm 42:1–2; 84:1–12; Hebrews 12:28
Many years ago a number of skylarks imported from England began to breed and dot the American landscape. One day, a man who studied birds sat listening with solemn interest to the song of the immigrant birds. Nearby, an Irish laborer—hearing the song of the bird he’d heard in his mother country—stopped, took off his hat and turned his face skyward. A look of awe and joy washed across his face. His inward remembrance and love of country produced an outward response.
Although the Israelites expressed an outward worship, they didn’t possess an inward love of God. Sure, an observer might believe that they worshiped God inwardly. But in truth, their hearts secretly served other gods. “In their secret chambers of idolatry and imagery,” said Clarence Macartney, “they bowed down before the grinning images of Baal.”
Today, as we express our adoration and worship of God, we can either be like the student of birds or like the Irishman who responded emotionally to their song. The observer simply admires what takes place, but experiences no feelings of love and devotion. However, the true worshiper—upon hearing songs about God and words of his heavenly home—feels his heart beat faster, thinking of a glorious hope for the future. And all of us long to feel this beat, because it makes our hearts come alive.
Anyone can go through the outward motions. But we can’t worship by just playing a role. We have to make it the aim of our heart. When we offer our heart to God in love and adoration, he, in return, washes awe and joy across our soul.