PERSONAL WORSHIP LESSON 1
By Claudine Lehman
Why are you taking this class? Where are you on your spiritual journey?
We are not all at the same place . . . we are not all ready for the same challenges.
But be sure of this—God is at work in each life here. He has a grand plan that is tailored to each of us. No plan is the same. But the God who created us know us intimately and He is at work.
We are going to be talking about worship—primarily personal worship, but also corporate. Worship is such a grand, broad subject there is no possible way to cover it all in just a few sessions. The subject is as broad and high as God Himself.
I know I am not able to do the subject justice. But what I’m hoping and praying will happen during this time together is that you will get a glimpse of what it means to worship God in Spirit and in truth.
If you are already on your way, I hope you will have a renewed zeal to keep pressing on. If personal worship is a fairly new thing for you, I hope you will get excited about becoming a consistent, constant worshiper.
But before we get started, I’d like to go back in time and share a few high and low points from my own life that will hopefully help you identify with me better.
I was raised in a very God-honoring home. My dad owned his own business and was a good lay Bible teacher and leader in our church. He was also a decision maker and our home was very structured. I went from the security of that home to a Christian university where the rules were all laid out for us. Again, there was a certain safety in that even if I didn’t always like it.
In college, my faith became established, and I met and married a wonderful Christian man who, like my father, was a strong leader, good Bible teacher and excellent decision-maker. We knew God had called us out of our denominations and into the ministry of planting independent churches, so we began to pursue this calling.
On the surface, my life looked perfect. I had a wonderful, handsome, godly husband and four lovely children. We had been successful in our first two pastorates in the Nebraska sandhills and in Wyoming. In 1960, we moved to Mitchell, Nebraska, and helped start a new Berean church there. It was growing . . . people were being saved . . . a new building was going up . . . and baby #5 was born.
But—there was something wrong inside of me.
All of the above accomplishments did not seem to fill a void. I was losing the ability to appreciate all I had. I found no satisfaction in doing and being and going and having. With five children, ages 7 and under, in a new town with new friends and a new church, I was living in a whirlwind.
During this time my husband even asked me to assist him in his office at the church. This was a dream come true. I was finally able to use my college degree. He would go home and take care of the children while I went to the office to do secretarial work. I was delighted. And for a while, I was able to cover up the void with more doing, going, being and having.
But it all began to unravel. I remember one time in particular after Gracie was born when I was sitting in the little rocker while she nursed and crying. I wasn’t sure why I was crying, but I remember thinking, “God, who am I anyway?”
My identity was all rolled up in my husband and children. I was a pastor’s wife . . . a mother . . . but without them, who would I be?
I am a very driven and ambitious person, but at that time I felt dead inside. I no longer had the drive, ambition or motivation to do anything. Oh, I went through all the right motions, even my husband was unaware of how I was feeling, but my heart wasn’t in it.
You see God was beginning the painful process of stripping away all my personal drive, selfish ambitions, self-centeredness, misplaced focus and everything else He knew needed to be taken away.
Many years have passed since 1960, so things are in better perspective now. I can look back and see that God was trying to get my attention. He was telling me, “Claudine, I am all you really need.”
He wanted to be the center of my focus—not all my doing and going and being and having. It took months, even years of struggling, before I slowly begin to understand what He was saying,
“If you knew Me better, you would see that I am all you need. I am trustworthy. You don’t have to make things happen. You don’t have to be in control. I am sovereign. I am in control. I am God –You are not.”
But the frightening thing at the time was I didn’t know Him. I knew about Him. I had led Bible studies, filled in hundreds of blanks, and had endless quiet times. But the focus had always been to get information, to get my problems solved, to look good to others, to find His will . . . but it had never been to just know Him.
Finally the day came when I put all the books aside and with my Bible open said, “Okay, God. It’s just you and me. Show me who you are. Show me your glory.”
My only focus was to KNOW GOD. I no longer read the Word to get information and solutions to my problems. I wanted to learn the heart of God. I began to ask these questions as I read: Who is God? What does He do? How does He do it? What is on His heart? What makes Him glad or sad? What are His values? Where is He going? What does He (not others) expect of me?
As I sought to know Him, He brought answers and slowly began to change my perspective. I learned
- My security is in Him—not home, family, circumstances or government
- My husband was no longer a prisoner of my expectations
- My children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren are free to grow and be all God wants them to be
- I don’t have to be in control—He Is!
- I don’t have to make things happen—He Does!
In these next few months, I just want to share with you my findings . . . my wanderings. I’ll be sharing the valuable lessons I’ve learned in the process of getting to know my God and learning to worship Him in sincerity and in truth. It is a process that never ends. I have not arrived . . . I am still on the way . . . and I always will be.
I’m so thankful for God’s precious Word and what He has taught me, and I hope to share these things with you.
I would like to close today with the following verse that so clearly describes my journey. I hope you will find truth in it as well:
“I waited and waited for the Lord. He bent over to me and heard my cry. He brought me up from a destructive pit, from the miry clay, and He set my feet on a rock. He steadied my steps. He put a new song in my mouth, a praise to our God—many shall see it and revere and trust the Lord.” Psalm 40:1-3
Now it’s your turn. We’ve had a chance to get to know Claudine. Now we’d like to hear from you. In the comment box below, tell us a little about yourselves. What drew you to this online class? Was there something in Claudine’s testimony that resonated with you today?
Next week we will learn some definitions about worship and Claudine will share some basic questions we can ask ourselves as we study God’s word, but for now, take some time to read the rest of Psalm 40. As you read, keep in mind one simple question: What does this psalm tell me about Who God Is?