Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Cowboy worship

cowboyWHEN IT COMES to singing, I’m a bit like a baby learning to walk: more enthusiasm than dexterity, with a tendency to wobble and fall flat. However, I love to raise my voice in church on Sunday morning. I take comfort in the fact that Psalm 100 exhorts us to make a joyful noise unto the Lord; note it says nothing about being “tuneful.”

Having said that, I need to confess that I am a secret worship editor. I don’t always sing along to every song, and sometimes when I do, I even change the words a little bit.

This is no reflection on the worship at my church, which is widely appreciated as rich and sweet. It says much more about me, for better or worse, and actually dates back to what may have been my first-ever Sunday morning experience.

Growing up in a non-church-going home, I was probably about four when I went to a service at an Anglican parish. I don’t recall how I ended up there with my sister—maybe friends invited us—but I remember being simultaneously awed by the big old stone building and gorgeous stained glass windows, and unimpressed by the rock-hard wooden pews.

Then, when everyone started to sing, something stirred inside me; the combined voices reaching out somewhere, somehow, awakened a desire to join in. I wanted to be part of this shared celebration. The only problem was I didn’t know the words—and couldn’t read.

Looking around and seeing that folks appeared to be pretty happy, I decided to join in with some words of my own about what I enjoyed. As playing cowboys and Indians was something of a passion at this stage in my life, I chirped up something Western-themed, prompting a quizzical look from the adult next to me. Strangely, given that I was a rather timid kid, I don’t recall being cowed by the reaction.

Looking back, I wonder if God didn’t gaze down with a smile, seeing a heart tugged towards Him and offering all that it knew to give. And I suspect that it maybe brought Him more delight than on some occasions since when I have known all the right words—but not really meant them.

Worship doesn’t always have to be an emotional experience, of course, though there have been times when I have almost felt that heaven’s curtain has parted just for a moment. But when God asks us to bring our hearts to Him, He doesn’t mean for us to leave our minds behind, as a hilarious recent spoof video about vacuous worship reminded us.

So sometimes, if I feel like I might as easily be singing along to “Bohemian Rhapsody” as I drive in my car—for the lack of purposefulness with which I am joining in—I’ll stand silently in church and let others’ voices wash over me. Or I’ll throw in a small clause, acknowledging that I’m more conditional than definite.

Thus if you are standing near me one Sunday when we sing the wonderful “Revelation Song,” you might notice instead of “With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings, You are my everything and I will adore You,” I may offer “With all creation I’d sing praise to the King of kings, You are my everything and I would adore You.”

Call it my cowboy version.

Photo credit: BG³Photo via Foter.com/CC BY

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