[This is a guest post by a good friend and worship leader/blogger, Cathy Howie.]
Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:5
Most of the time when I think about worshiping God, I think of what I offer Him. My heart attitude, my lifted hands, my service. There are plenty of examples in the Bible about people offering God their worship.
Sometimes, though, God tells a worshiper what to do.
In the desert God commanded Moses to take off his sandals as he entered His presence. This command is:
While God often gives His children difficult tasks in life, that usually isn’t the case when we set aside time to be in His presence worshiping Him. Lifting hands, singing, kneeling, and declaring His Word are all physically easy.(1) The point is to involve our entire being in worship – our posture, gestures, voices, minds. The focus is on God, not heroics or tasks that could be distracting. These actions reinforce what is going on in our hearts and minds, enabling us to be fully present and give God our complete attention.
Within easy directives, however, cultural meanings and practices sometimes lie. This was the case with Moses’ sandals. In the Middle East shoes are offensive. Showing the bottom of your shoe to someone in that part of the world is an obscene gesture. In Bible times shoes were also “signs of sensuousness, comfort, luxury and pleasure.”(2)
In asking Moses to take off His sandals, God was asking him to lay aside his comfort and pleasure (surely the desert sand was hot!) and to rid himself of his nasty footwear out of respect.
Moses obeyed – he said, “Yes, Lord!” – and God communed with him.
Whether I am worshiping privately or leading corporate worship, I often hear God asking me to do something simple like raise my hands or bow before Him. Sometimes I obey. Other times I proceed in the direction I was already headed before I heard Him. I wonder what I missed.
Next time I will answer, “Yes, Lord!”
From Pam: I love this picture – going into worship open to what God wants us to offer Him. It doesn’t always look the same. Sometimes He may want us to stand with our arms out wide illustrating the offering of all we are. Sometimes He may us to kneel in submission with our face in our hands. At times He may want us to verbally pour out all that our heart contains about Him. Or He may want us to be quiet and still – as our hearts overflow with all it holds about our God that there are just no words for. And other times He may want us to remove our sandals in recognition of the holiness of the moment. The key is to have hearts quieted and ears opened to His voice and direction in the moment – and the willingness to obey. Or, like Cathy said, we’ll leave wondering what we missed.
How can I prepare myself to listen to and obey God’s directions during my worship?
1. I realize that some people who have a disability are not able to do some of the actions listed above, and that these actions are very difficult for some. Most people, however, can do at least one. For those who cannot do any, God knows their heart. Their worship is no less precious to Him because of their limitations. In fact, since there is greater sacrifice, their worship is sweeter.
RELATED POST: Yielding it All to God in Worship