There are two things about Jacob that put him into history’s ‘hall of fame’ of heroes in God’s eyes. Hebrews 11:21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. What stood out to God about Jacob is that he left a legacy of blessing to his descendants, and that he worshipped in the dying moments of his life. Its striking that his worship was not a set of elaborate actions or huge effort – in fact it seems he had little strength left – it was an act of faith. Think about that: his worship is noted for being ‘by faith’ in weakness.
Bill Johnson recently wrote something that caught my attention and seems to grab everyone I tell it to: ‘Thanksgiving is our response to God’s works, praise is our response to God’s nature and worship is our response to God’s Presence.’
Wow. My heart leaps at this because I’m drawn to this amazing God and I want to see more of His works, I want to know more of His nature and most of all, I want to spend more time basking in the sunlight of His Presence. This is what I was created for. His Presence is His amazing gift to me promised by the prophets of old, my ‘hope of glory’. More than theology, it’s a living reality. I don’t just want to have a well ordered set of Bible verses in my mind about the concept, I want to encounter the ‘new and living way’ of Christ’s fellowship, of Emmanuel, ‘God with us’. I want the real deal. Experiencing God’s Presence is the joy of life, knowing about it is just the invitation and that’s not enough for me.
God meets me with His Presence, His Holy Spirit, and I realize this is an expression of His love towards me, a type of divine hug, as it says in Romans 5:5 ‘He has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.’ My worship then is responding to His Presence, returning His love and affection. This worshipful response is how I fulfill the Great Commandment, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart’. My worship is my response, it’s my love to Him because He first loved me.
It doesn’t take great skill or strength to worship. It takes a simple response of faith to God’s love, something a fragile old man can do. As your experience of His Presence grows, and you respond all the more to Him with affection, there’s no limit of the extent of God’s love you can enjoy. You can be ‘filled to the measure with all of the fullness of God’.
Like Jacob, this is what stands out in Heaven.