It occurred to me as I read this chapter of Celebration of Discipline that there are some basic principles that apply to all the disciplines. No matter which discipline, the best way to learn it is by doing it, and you should do it even when you don’t feel like it. Emotional readiness is unimportant, even irrelevant. What matters is obedience. How you feel about it is likely to change anyway. The adage that right feelings follow right actions has universal application.
Take the discipline of worship. As Foster states, the call to worship is repeated throughout Scripture, and obeying that call can take various forms. We should expect worship to look and feel very different across cultures and populations. Even among the same demographic, each person is unique. So why would the worship of two very different individuals look exactly the same? Yet there are people who think they know the one right way to worship.
And quite honestly it’s hard not to judge. I’ll tell you a personal story to illustrate my point. In May of 2005, my husband was in Germany for work, and I had the opportunity to hear Ravi Zacharias speak at an event sponsored by the C.S. Lewis Institute. Sometimes it’s almost liberating to go to an event by yourself because you are not distracted and not tempted to analyze someone else’s perception. Anyway it was a two-day event that I almost didn’t get to. I remember my babysitter fell through and my darling neighbor across the street encouraged me to go: “I’ll keep the boys,” she said. And so I did. I went that night and the next morning. Ravi’s message was the best I’ve ever heard in my life. He tied together the biggest longings and the most nagging questions of human existence, and in the end he eloquently showed how all of these are answered and fulfilled at the Cross. I had never heard anything so philosophically satisfying, so intellectually beautiful, and the idea that the intellect and the philosophy stemmed from Jesus’ love for us! Well, I was overwhelmed, to say the least. When Ravi was done I had the strongest desire to lay down on the floor of the church and sob my heart out. But I didn’t. People would have thought I was nuts. I would have thought that I was nuts.
But maybe we need to let people be. Maybe we should disabuse ourselves of the notion that we know the one right way. Because I think it would have been a profoundly sincere form of worship if I would’ve laid down and cried that day.