As I was standing, singing during the introduction song, a few young surfers walked past me, gave me a shaka (you’d have to be a surfer to understand), grinned, and took their spot nearby. As we sang I reflected on how cool it was that I still worship with my bros and sisters, those generations younger than myself, who love the sport God used to reach me. People who know me, know I love surfing. I mean I love it. No, let me be clear…I really love it.
Many ages ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I had a job that wasn’t church related, and the surf was good, I would actually have stomach cramps, get physically ill if I couldn’t get off work to go. I know, dumb. But what can I say? Passion is a rare commodity, and having a deep commitment to someone or something that affects you mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically is a strong motivating force.
ETV did a documentary on the “History of Surfing in SC”, a few years back. Since I am now old enough to be considered an “historical find,” they asked to interview me, along with some friends who have been around since we carved the first surfboards out of the Redwoods, or I mean cypresses (around here). To end the segment my friend described surfing as, “I guess it’s just a bad habit I picked up as a kid.”
A bad habit. When I started to preach my sermon on “Why Worship,” it suddenly came back to me – my wedding. At my wedding, after the vows, I leaned over to my beautiful 19-year old wife and whispered in her ear, “Don’t ever ask me to choose between you and surfing.” I told the church this, and then asked, “Who, what did I really love at that moment?” Of course they said surfing. But the fact was, I loved myself. I loved what made me feel good, what gave me prestige, what insulated me from the world everyone else lived in and I wanted no part of; it was all about me.
When it comes to worshiping God, let’s face it, it’s usually all about us. We look at God on Sunday mornings, and go, “Don’t ask me to choose between you or me.” Unless I feel like it, I won’t worship. Unless all is well with my relationships, I won’t worship. Unless the music style is just right, the volume just right, the musicianship just right, the temperature just right, if I’m rested, have the time, etc.
There is an ever increasing list of “other loves” that try to dictate to us, like a bad habit, what we will give our affections to. I’m just glad Jesus didn’t look at me and say, “Don’t ever make me choose between the cross & heaven.”