YOU ARE UNIQUE. In fact, as amazing as it sounds, no two of you who are holding this book in your hands are the same. You all come from various places and have different backgrounds. Each of us excels at different things, with goals and dreams that are distinct from the other. To put it another way, all of us are wired differently. Some are athletes, others brilliant musicians. Some are shy while others seem to be the life of the party. Some love the arts while others don’t have a creative bone in their bodies. That’s because God has designed each one of us in a specific way to play a unique role in His unending story. Finding our “groove” and discovering our God-given gifts and abilities is one of the most satisfying things that will ever happen to us.
But though we are all different, one thing about us is the same. While we all have varying gifts, our purpose in life is the same. In other words, we have all been prewired by God to do one thing—and to do it with everything we’ve got!
That’s what this book is all about: discovering the central purpose of our days on earth and learning to do well what God has created us to do. And what is it? I believe we have been wired from the start to live lives of worship, lives that are billboards for the greatness and glory of God.
Hopefully, by the time you finish these pages you’ll agree, and see how your life fits in God’s epic adventure.
But before we get too far we need to make a deal, OK? For this journey to work it has to be a two-way street. It has to be interactive. In other words you can’t just read the words on the pages, you have to jump in and get involved. There will be Scripture verses to dig into, questions to answer, and plenty of room for you to write what you’re thinking.
Are you up for it? Cool. Here’s the first thing.
When I say worship, what comes to your mind? What image, thought, experience, place, or definition do you see when you think of worship? Give it a little thought, and in the space below write down your definition of worship. Don’t worry about trying to make it perfect; you’re going to have a couple of opportunities to change it as we go along. Just write in your own words what you think worship is all about.
Now that you’ve got your worship definition going, let’s look at a passage from God’s Word that shines more light on the subject. Notice the verse below. What I want you to try is the “Circle the Word” Bible study method. “The what Bible study?” Yeah, I made the name up. But the main idea is that you read the verse a few times, let its meaning and truth sink into your heart, and then circle the one or two words in the verse that seem to jump out and grab you. What words seem to mean the most to you? Sure, they are all important, but which ones are calling your name? When you know what they are (it may be just one main word), circle that word and in the space below write a few sentences about why you made that choice. Remember, there isn’t a “mystery word” in the verse that gets you more credit than another. Go with the word(s) that connect with you.
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. HEBREWS 13:15–16, NIV
All right. Now that you’ve got your worship definition and your first “Circle the Word” Bible study finished, you’re ready to jump in. Enjoy the ride as you discover the main thing you are wired to do
THE HUGE IDEA: EVERYBODY WORSHIPS SOMETHING.
You, my friend…are a worshiper!
There, I said it.
Every day, all day long, everywhere you go, you worship. It’s what you do. It’s who you are.
So if by chance you have only a few seconds to check out this book, that’s what it’s all about. We all are worshipers, created to bring pleasure and glory to the God who made us.
I don’t know whether or not you consider yourself a “worshiping” kind of person, but you cannot help but worship—something.
It’s what you were made to do.
Should you for some reason choose not to give God what He desires, you’ll still worship something—exchanging the Creator for something He has created.
>> Whatever’s Worth Most
Think of it this way: Worship is simply about value. The simplest definition I can give is this: Worship is our response to what we value most.
That’s why worship is that thing we all do. It’s what we’re all about on any given day. Because worship is about saying, “This person, this thing, this experience (this whatever) is what matters most to me…it’s the thing I put first in my life.”
That “thing” might be a relationship. A dream. Friends. Status. Stuff. A name. Some kind of pleasure. Whatever name you put on it, this thing or person is what you’ve concluded in your heart is worth most to you. And whatever is worth most to you is—you guessed it—what you worship.
Worship tells us what we value most. As a result, worship determines our actions, becoming the driving force for all we do.
And we’re not just talking about the religious crowd. Christians. The churchgoer among us. Or the youth group attender. We’re talking about everybody on planet earth…a multitude of souls proclaiming with every breath what is worthy of their affection, their attention, their allegiance. Proclaiming with every step what it is they worship.
Some of us attend the church on the corner, professing to worship the Living God above all. Others who rarely step inside the church doors would say worship isn’t a part of their lives because they aren’t “religious.” But everybody has an altar. And every altar has a throne.
So how do you know where and what you worship?
It’s easy. You simply follow the trail of your time, your affection, your energy, your money, and your loyalty. At the end of that trail you’ll find a throne; and whatever, or whomever, is on that throne is what’s of highest value to you. On that throne is what you worship.
Sure, not too many of us walk around saying, “I worship my stuff. I worship my Xbox. I worship this pleasure. I worship her. I worship my body. I worship me!”
But the trail never lies. We may say we value this thing or that thing more than any other, but the volume of our actions speaks louder than our words.
In the end, our worship is more about what we do than what we say.
Worship is the activity of the human soul.
So not only do all people worship, but they worship all the time. Worship isn’t just a Sunday thing. It’s an all-the-time thing.
Right now, all around you, people of all shapes and sizes, people of every age and purpose are worshiping— continually making decisions based on what they value most. Worship happens everywhere… all day long.
In fact, some of the purest forms of worship are found outside the walls of the church and have no reference to the God of all creation. All you have to do is drop in on a concert at the local arena or go to a sporting event at a nearby stadium to see amazing worship. People are going for it, lifting their hands, shouting like crazy, staking their claim, standing in awe, declaring their allegiance. Interestingly, these venues are filled with the same forms of worship mentioned in the pages of God’s Word—the same expressions of worship that God desires and deserves.
A while back, watching an interview Oprah was doing with Michael Jackson in the prime of his career, I was stunned with the reality of this truth. What I witnessed as she showed a video clip of people responding to him in concert settings around the world absolutely floored me. Talk about amazing worship!
In multiple cultures, mobs of people numbering into the hundreds of thousands were glued as one to his every move. On every continent they gathered like an army, waving their hands in the air. Some fell to their knees. Others strained with outstretched hands, hoping for a brief touch from his. Seared in my mind is the image of one young girl with a look on her face of total awe.
I couldn’t believe it. What I was watching was some of the most intense worship I’d ever seen… anywhere. Far more “full-on” than much of what I’d experienced inside the church.
And for what? Granted, Michael Jackson is a living legend when it comes to entertainment, but he’s not a great god. Not even close. Yet the worship was phenomenal, demonstrating the God-given capacity for adoration that is rooted in the soul of every man.
And you can see it when your favorite band plays, or your favorite team. People naturally doing the thing it seems we were all created to do.
>> Connectivity, Prewired
In the same way, we all (you and me) worship something all the time. And you know what? We’re really good at it.
If you think about it, history has known no shortage of worship. The timeline of mankind is littered with trillions of little idols. Every culture, every corner of earth, every age has had its gods. Just circle the globe and watch for worship. Study the great civilizations and explore their temples.
The compelling question for me is, “Why?” Why do we crave something to worship? Why are we so insatiably drawn from idol to idol, desperately in need of something to champion, something to exalt, something to adore?
How do we know for sure that some things are more important than others, more worthy of worship? How do we even know that value, beauty, and worth exist?
I think it’s because we were designed that way. We were made for God.
The Bible says it this way: All things were made by Him; and all things were made for Him (Colossians 1:16).
You’ve been created by God. And if that wasn’t enough, you’ve also been created for Him. As a result, there’s an internal homing device riveted deep within your soul that perpetually longs for your Maker. An internal, Godward magnet, pulling your being toward Him.
Stamped in God’s image, we know that there’s something we attach to, something we fit with, someone we belong to, somewhere called home.
That’s why we come from the womb equipped for connectivity with God, prewired to praise. And that’s why, from the youngest age, we begin to worship.
We arrive in this world as objects of divine affection, miraculous receptors designed to bring Him pleasure. If only everyone could know we’ve been created by and for God! If only we could all comprehend that we’re precious to Him, housing mirrored souls designed to reflect His glory.
CIRCLE THE WORD BIBLE STUDY
(Circle the word that stands out/means most to you and be ready to talk about why you chose that word.)
[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. COLOSSIANS 1:15-17, NIV
>> The Question That Captivates Us All
As I’m writing, my flight home to Atlanta is climbing high above the Chicago night. Staring out across the horizon, I’m captivated by the thousands of tiny lights dotting the landscape as far as I can see. Countless twinkling stars of earth, hundreds of thousands of beacon lights. It’s like a sea of little lights—streetlights, headlights, house lights, neon lights…all kinds of lights.
And I’m thinking, everywhere I see lights, there are people. People everywhere. A sea of humanity. And every single person down there is someone created with amazing potential and purpose. All uniquely fashioned to reflect back to their Creator His beauty and wonder. Each one breathing the air of earth in one accord. Each person given life to give Him praise.
And that’s only the view in one direction, looking out over just one city, in just one state, in one nation, on one continent.
I’m floored. As we jet through the darkened sky, I think of how this earth is home to billions of worshipers, created to light the darkness with stories of who God is…with echoes of all He has done.
But do they know it? Do you know it? Do you know in this moment that you were made by and for God?
While we soar over Chicago, our plane is just a little tiny speck to anyone who might look up and see us, a little dot of light blinking its way through the night. Yet on board this night are even more people. People everywhere.
Across the aisle from me, a middle-aged woman is digging into a well-worn Bible. (No, I’m not making this up!) She’s leaning forward as she reads, as if she knows this Book holds some secret key. I’m thinking how the same God who’s worthy of all the earth’s worship is the Author of the very pages in her hands. She’s holding His autobiography in her hands. There before her eyes is the extension of God’s hand. And she’s devouring it in large chunks, miraculously forgoing another showing of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It’s as if somehow within its pages she has discovered life’s very meaning.
It seems we all are eventually captivated by the question of why. Why are we here? Is there a reason for our lives? Is there something we’re uniquely destined to do?
It’s the age-old dilemma—what’s the purpose of life?
The answer begins and ends with God. Simply put, you and I were made by Him and made for Him. You and I exist for one purpose alone—to reflect back to God His matchless glory. You were made for a unique relationship with Him. And your life was designed to be a mirror that reflects all the best things about Him to the world around you. Finding our Maker and connecting with His purposes is the one thing we are all seeking.
Okay, to be fair, things have change on board. Forty minutes have passed, and the woman across the aisle is now reading a David Baldacci novel, sending occasional glances toward the movie monitor.
Uh-oh. The headphones are going on. I think she’s being sucked into the movie.
Apparently, she’s seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding a dozen times and is having no difficulty jumping right into the flow. It hasn’t been thirty seconds and she’s already laughing. (Not as loudly as the guy in front of me, mind you, who with headphones on is loudly giving a blow-by-blow commentary of each scene to the stranger trapped beside him.)
I guess tonight won’t see a miracle after all. The “little movie engine that could” wins again. The unstoppable force of “Big Fat Greek Wedding” rambles on. But she still gets major credit for her deep dive into the pages of God’s Word. For she— just like the rest of us—is seeking God. And, as far as I can tell, finding Him on a plane to Georgia.
(The guy next to me is sound asleep. The lady in front is talking in what sounds like a South African accent. The flight attendant buzzing around is tall and Romanian. A businessman behind me is wide-awake and feverishly working.)
And there are people all around you, too. Today as you stretch before practice, sit at the picnic table during lunch, or study in the library, there are people everywhere. Over there the little popular clump of girls who think they rule the world. Then there’s that quiet, shy kid who always seems to sit alone. And near him two teachers deep in conversation who seem to have tuned out the entire school.
All these people.
Do they know their lives have an amazing purpose?