Updated: Oct 28, 2020
It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to the Most High. Psalm 92:1
I was afloat in a sea among thousands of people, our cell phone lights on, our hands raised. We were lost in songs of praise to the God of the universe, and no experience could match it. No concert that I have been to would even compare (not even a Taylor Swift show, and y’all, I love Taylor Swift!). With my friends Alyssa and Clayton, I joined thousands from across Canada on a stop of Hillsong United’s People tour in Toronto.
One of the many incredible things about God is that He welcomes us just as we are. I remember telling my sister that I wanted to prepare my heart to worship before going, but the week hadn’t been what I expected and my quiet times with God had been rushed. And yet, He was gracious. He still met me in that arena. I may not have had it all together, but God doesn’t care about pretenses or the appearance of perfection. (And really, when do we flawed, imperfect beings have it all together, anyway?) We do nothing to earn the favour of God and yet daily, He deposits it gladly and freely into the hearts of those who follow his Son.
As I sang from the depths of my heart, I savoured each word in my mouth like an exquisite bite of food. Words matter. Songs are declarations of belief and ideology. And on that beautiful June evening, the words coming from my mouth and from thousands of others’ were of hope, healing, joy and love.
We sang about God being God in the highlands and the valleys, how He can move the mountains in our lives, how we as humans are fickle in our faithfulness and yet He loves us as we are. We declared out loud that He is with us in the fire and about joy in the battle because we’re not alone. I lifted my hands and surrendered my heart, because He is the only one worth that kind of praise—and how could I not give it?
It’s a night I will never forget. I have always wanted to go to a Hillsong worship concert. They had ministered to me as a young adult and continue to inspire me now. I had missed the opportunity to see them in Toronto when they came during my university years. When my cousin Ernesto in El Salvador posted photos from one he went to in San Salvador a couple of years ago, I wrote to him that it was my prayer to go to one, too. He replied, “All in God’s timing, Raquel.” And it was.
I left that night with a reminder of the power and joy following Jesus offers. That having Him in my life doesn’t make life easy—but it does make it better. That what I want for as long as I have breath is to not live a private life that pleases God, but to be bold with my words and in my affection for Him. He’s worth singing about. He’s worth giving praise to. And he’s certainly worth living for.
The God I sang to in a vast sea of praise-givers is the same God who can be sung to in a room alone. He welcomes anyone who wants to know Him. We can be at the beginning of the road or near the end of the journey. We can be full of questions, weary and broken. He will come to where we are at the road, greet us and walk with us until the end. We don’t have to be perfect because He loves us as he finds us.