One of my early memories is climbing into the back seat of our family car and watching my dad start it up – from outside the vehicle! He would pick up a steel crank handle from the car floor, walk around and engage the end in a slot in the front of the engine. Then, bending his whole body to the task he would vigorously rotate the engine until it spluttered into life. Or didn’t. Sometimes it required the removal of his jacket and the rolling up of shirt sleeves. Us kids would break into a cheer when it started, at which point he would jump in quickly and drive off before it stalled. That model of car today is a valuable classic, back then it was just an old banger and clearly pre-dated the useful innovation of the electric starter motor.
Which serves to illustrate a simple question. When it comes to offering worship to God, am I a self-starter, or do I depend on someone else’s muscle?
The opening words of Psalm 103 are much quoted and appear in numerous songs and hymns:
Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
But our familiarity can cause us to overlook one small word. The word ‘all’. It is not until we engage the ‘all’ that we really become self-starters. With ‘all’ our soul, all our inmost being engaged we cannot be simultaneously checking our phones or watching what everyone else is doing.
But this simple word ‘all’ has some formidable enemies. My selfish nature wants to be indulged, my appetites distract me, a culture of perpetual stimulation leaves me easily bored, my attention drifts….
Then it may turn out that in the absence of enough self-starters among us, our leaders have become skilled in the art of cranking. They have learned from experience that we need it! How much better that we each take responsibility for engaging the ‘all’ and take the pressure off them. How refreshing it would be if worship songs or prayers broke out spontaneously in the room before even a note was played or anyone stepped up to a microphone. A room full of Spirit-filled self-starters is an awesome thing.
Crank-starting a car came with a safety warning in the owner’s manual. Engines can mis-fire, thumbs can be broken, shoulders dislocated.
Crank-start leaders can create dependents instead of disciples and get exhausted or disillusioned.
Worship starts with the will, the will that decides to engage the ‘all’. And until we each exercise our choice routinely in our daily lives and private spaces we will be leaning too much on the ‘muscle’ of the good people who lead us in the public setting.
Don’t wait for a feeling, make a choice.
Don’t wait for others to stir you up, stir yourself.
Start the meeting before the meeting starts.
Don’t come to church to worship, come worshipping!
Thank you, heavenly Father, that according to 2 Peter 1 v3, your divine power has given me everything I need for a godly life through knowing your Son Jesus. Forgive me for living as if I have to wait for spiritual hand-outs from others. Deliver me from the fear of taking initiative because of what people might think of me. I say to myself right now: O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name! ALL my inmost being bless God, don’t forget a single blessing! Lord, with your help I’m going to do this until it becomes a life-long habit.