Saturday, March 29, 2008


I have found it difficult to write about personal spiritual experiences. It always seems too hard to express in words. I have had some thoughts rolling around in my head and heart for a while now. So, I am going to attempt to put these thoughts into words.

When I look back at my growing up years, I think my greatest moments of worship were the "mountain top" moments. These moments actually happened in the mountains, around a campfire. Whether it be mission trip in Taos or Permian Basin Christian Camp in Guadalupe or Sacramento, these times singing around the campfire stick out in my mind. I can remember being so filled with the spirit and so revived. I loved the way the youth would express ourselves in worship. Whether it be clapping (gasp) or closing our eyes and lifting our voices to God, we were somewhat uninhibited in these times of worship.

I love my heritage of faith and worship. However, I would also say that in corporate worship, growing up, worship for me was inhibited. There were rules. No clapping. No hands raised. No kneeling. I can remember returning from camp or mission trip and feeling so confined in worship. Back to the old routine.

For the past two years, Wade and I have been working and worshiping with a church that is completely uninhibited in worship. Although our worship is acapella, we do have instrumental music played at times. Also, our worship leader does on occasion play the guitar. Clapping, raising our hands, kneeling, laying on of hands, etc. are common in our church home. I have loved and appreciated this freedom I have in worship.

One of the things that I was looking the most forward to at the conference in San Diego, was the praise and worship time. It was awesome. That first night we were there, I was overcome with the power of it all. It was the first time that I had ever worshipped with a full praise band. It was so neat to sing along with the songs that I sing everyday in the car as I listen to Christian radio. I remember feeling so free to sing as loud as I could because the music would cover up my voice.

I could not help but be in awe of the people surrounding me. There were over 3000 people. Many of these people were very active in their worship. From the first note, they had their hands held high, singing to our savior. It occured to me that this was normal for all of these people. As new as this experience was for me, this was not new for the majority of the people in the room. There were people from all denominations, from all over the country. It made me smile. I thanked God for bringing me to this place for this new experience.

God provided a moment for me. On the second night we were there, it came time for praise and worship. We all stood and the band began to play How Great is Our God by Chris Tomlin. This has become one of my favorite worship songs to sing in church. Now, although raising hands in worship is commonplace at church, I have never quite felt comfortable. There have been a few moments that I have found myself lifting my hands in praise, but it is not "natural" for me. Standing there singing this beautiful song about my Father, to my Father, I found myself in one of those moments. There was no other place to go but "up". And then it happened. This one moment. At the end of the song, the worship leader began to sing How Great Thou Art, and the instruments stopped. All you could hear were 3000 voices singing to God. It was my heritage. Everyone was speaking my language. I felt God wrap his hands around me. I heard my voice. I heard His voice. It wasn't until the song was over that I realized that I was standing with both hands held high above me, my head lifted back, my eyes closed. Just me and God. He took me "back" to bring me closer to Him. He took me back to my roots of acapella worship, to lead me to being free enough to express myself as I speak to him.

As I have said before, I believe in the power of all worship to God. I believe that God is honored by instrumental praise. I also believe that my love language with God is acapella music. He will lead me to Him, no matter what. He will listen, no matter my voice.

God speaks. All I need to do is listen.


kristi w said...

Well said, Cherise. I love the description of your experience. I especially appreciate the way you describe acappella music as your "love language to God". That's perfect.

April Carrasco said...

Oh, how I miss those "mountain top" camp days. Nothing compares to that feeling. Great post!

Mommysmart said...

Beautifully written by a honest and sincere heart. I appreciate you sharing your experience and I pray for more shared candid
conversations to find their way into our lives from Christians from every heritage of worship.

Happy Mama said...

Wow-you have such a beautiful way of expressing your heart. I love how you stated that accapella is your love language- what a lovely thought. We went to Youth Specialties in San Diego last November and the David Crowder Band led the worship- it was one of those "mountain top" experiences. Even Hadlea was raising her hands (see sidebar pic on my blog) and I just felt like God was just exuding out of every person in the room. Those moments should not be so limited.

suzanne said...

I can relate to so much of what you said, but you just put it into words that I would never be able to express. Our home church also has a full band and I LOVE the praise and worship songs because they're so inspiring. However, we sing acappella sometimes and it always brings me back to a very special place. I never appreciated acappella until the last few years. I can't say that it's my "love language", but I certainly have a new appreciation that I never did growing up.