By Teresa Lickliter
“As she stood behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears and wipe them with her hair. Then she kissed His feet and anointed them with the perfume.” Luke 7:38. Picture it. Can you feel the passion? Can you sense the desperation to express the gratitude in her heart? What she did cost her everything. She probably felt extremely vulnerable and exposed. At the mercy of judgmental scowls and misguided assumptions. Her expression of worship propelled her past caring about such trivial things. She literally poured herself out in worship to her King. She used her “crown” to wipe His feet in the ultimate act of humility. She left nothing in the bottle and nothing was held back. She probably looked a mess and foolish and she didn’t care. She knew what really mattered; she understood what was of actual value and over 2000 years later she is still inspiring this worshipper’s heart.
As a worship leader, finding freedom in my expression of worship has been a real struggle. Insecurity, fear, jealousy, nerves, expectations have all taken turns bullying me into submission. To most people I was leading, it was all just fine, but there were a few who saw something beyond what I was putting out there. They sensed the bondage I had allowed myself to be in. I was like a songbird contently locked in a cage. The cage completely restricted my freedom but it also provided security from the world outside. I felt safer conforming to the restrictions than allowing myself the vulnerability that would come with being released. If I really expressed my feelings and passion in worship, I might hit a bad note, start crying or get sweaty. After years of dealing with these things, the Lord showed me what was really happening and I realized that my worship had become the very thing I feared most. It had become about me.
Ouch! How terrible is that? All this time I was content to stay in my own head and not allow my heart the freedom to actually express itself. It really was all about me. But it doesn’t matter if you are the one up on the platform leading or standing 10 rows back in the congregation, if you are holding anything back, it has become about you. Obviously I’m talking about worship in the context of music, but worship is not simply a song. It’s a lifestyle. It is simply “love expressed” and however we choose to express it, it’s an act of sacrifice.
When we find freedom in our worship, we always experience God on a much deeper level which is, ultimately, what worship is all about. It’s about intimacy with God. Being completely exposed and vulnerable. It’s very much like intimacy in a marriage. The more of yourself you give the deeper the connection. God never holds out on us in this department; it’s usually us holding back. Being self-focused is the biggest killer of intimacy. That is exactly what I was doing. Being so self-focused that I was not willing to “get naked” before God.
Wow, I just said “get naked” in a post about worship, but I really can’t put it any other way. That is what it is! You are laying yourself out there. You are giving every last ounce of who you are to Him. Nothing left in the jar. But can I just tell you how worth it it is? How He shows up and blows your mind? Can I tell you just how life-changing it is to experience this kind of freedom in worship? Obviously King David, when he danced around Israel with his man-bits, knew. I get it now, I really get it. The “my-God-is-freaking-awesome-and-I’m-gonna-shout-about-it-looking-like-a-fool-and-I-really-don’t-care” kind of freedom is so empowering.
A great thing about God is He always meets us where we are. Even in my self-absorbed form of worship, He was unrelenting in His pursuit of my heart’s affections. He is so gracious to give us what we are really desiring which is more of Him, even if our methods to get there are messy and misguided. The beautiful thing is when we understand we have a very safe place to fall, it makes it worth the risk. When we realize how deeply loved and treasured we are, it makes our worship become a genuine expression of our gratitude. When we know, intimately, the grace and goodness of our God, it brings freedom. In closing, I want you to do an evaluation of your worship. Is there any area where you feel bound? If there is, seek the Lord’s revelation and ask Him to free you in your expression of worship. It will change your life.
Meet Teresa Lickliter
The beauty to the left is Teresa Lickliter. She is a good friend to me. Teresa and her husband, Jason, live in the DFW area, and have four kids. Teresa is a wife, mom, and is the head teacher at Warrior Academy (where she home schools her four children). She has a heart for worshipping the Lord and is on the worship team at her local church. Teresa is a woman of many talents. Once I think I have her "pegged" she surprises me with a new skill set or story. One of the qualities I love most about Teresa is that even though she has so much going for her and she could do almost anything she humbly and gracefully follows the Lords call. She is raw, authentic, passionate, and can plan the the best parties. You can follow her blogging journey here. I asked Teresa to write a piece for this blog and I know you will be blessed by her vulnerability. My prayer is that the Lord's freedom is found in this post. Thank you, T, for sharing your journey with us. - Jamie