Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your descendants.” And Abram built an altar there and dedicated it to the Lord, who had appeared to him. After that, Abram traveled south and set up camp in the hill country, with Bethel to the west and Ai to the east. There he built another altar and dedicated it to the Lord, and he worshiped the Lord. – Genesis 12:7-8
One of our core beliefs and favorite phrases at Pursuit NYC is that “The best is yet to come.” Knowing that the God we worship is the God who promises to “give life and life to the fullest” (John 10:10), we contend, expect, and believe for God to move in powerful ways in our lives, schools, workplaces, and nations. But I believe that one of the greatest battles our generation faces is struggling with timelines. It’s easy to hear, read, and see what other people are doing these days and compare our lives to theirs. We might think, “I should be dating/married by now… I should have kids by now… I should be at this point in my career by now… I should be this type of person/spouse/friend by now… I should be further along by now…” And while the best is yet to come, I believe that it’s difficult for many of us to love God right where we are.
I imagine that Abraham was confronted with loving God right where he was throughout his journey of faith. In the beginning of his story in Genesis 12, Abraham (then, known as Abram) receives promises from God that he would have many descendants, be given the land of Canaan, and become a great nation that would bless other nations. In response to these amazing promises, Abraham builds an altar, dedicates it to the LORD, and worships God. Altars were places of slaughter/sacrifice in the Old Testament sacrificial system. They served as a reminder of the divine promises one had with God. They served as a way to claim property. They served as memorials of the divine encounters one had with God. But ultimately, altars were the meeting places between man and God where one worshiped the LORD.
WORSHIP WHERE YOU ARE
This idea of “building altars” is so important in Abraham’s life that he actually builds altars in different seasons and in different places throughout his lifetime. He builds a few altars in Genesis 12, then another in Genesis 13, and another one in Genesis 21. Abraham built altars anytime and anywhere. He didn’t need a church building or a worship team. He just worshiped God right where he was. Ultimately, the heart of Abraham was this: “God, I can worship you ANYWHERE.”
Luckily, we don’t need to build altars and sacrifice animals as our form of worship today. But I still believe that this idea of building altars applies to us in that we are called to worship God right where we are! Worship isn’t just a two hour event once a week. Worship isn’t a separate realm set apart from the rest of your life. The truth is that our whole life is worship. Worship is something we do in every season. We’re called to worship God wherever we are.
WORSHIP IS A JOURNEY
Our worship is a journey. The pretty amazing thing about Abraham’s life is that you can trace his life and the different seasons he went through by his act of building altars and worshiping God. In Genesis 12, Abraham enters into a season of promise and he builds altars and worships God. How great are seasons of promise! It’s easy to worship God in these times. But not too far after that, in Genesis 13, Abraham enters into a season of doubt as a famine sweeps across Canaan. He takes matters into his own hands and moves his family to Egypt away from the land promised to him. To make matters worse, he decides to give his wife, Sarah, to Pharaoh in order to save his own life (#notthehusbandoftheyear)! But even in this confusing season, Abraham builds an altar before God and worships Him. Later on in Genesis 22, Abraham is in a season of blessing/fulfillment as he finally receives a son after waiting on God’s promise for so long. But God throws him a curveball and commands Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. Still, Abraham builds an altar in this season even if it means that it would cost him his own son and the very promise he waited so long for.
Our worship is so important because our worship tells the story of our journey with God in and through all different seasons. If we only worshiped God when everything was going right, our journey of worship would tell the story that God is worthy of our praise only when things are good. But just like Abraham’s journey, if we worship God through mountain highs and valley lows, our journey of worship would tell the story that God is ALWAYS WORTHY of our praise, He’s TRUSTWORTHY no matter what season we’re in, and He’s FAITHFUL and GOOD through it all.
SEASONS ARE DIVINE INVITATIONS
Personally, I’ve been frustrated with where I am at as I find myself in a season of waiting and hiddenness. I feel as though I should be further along than the stage of life that I currently find myself in. Therefore, my prayer the past few months have been,“God, I can’t wait for this season to be over. This season is just for you to teach and prepare me for the next season because the best is yet to come. Help me to just endure and get through this season as quickly as possible…”
But one day, I felt God gently rebuking and encouraging me as a father telling me, “Josh, I have great, amazing things in store for you… And yes, the best is yet to come… always believe in that. But don’t overlook this season that you’re in because there’s value in this season as well… every season is a divine invitation to experience my presence in new ways. Will you worship me with everything you have in this season, even if you don’t feel like it and it’s difficult, because you may never get this season back again?”
That shifted my entire attitude and perspective of seasons. I think it’s easy to think that certain seasons, especially the difficult ones, are just moments we have to get through or that God uses seasons to just teach us something or prepare us for the next season. But I believe that God has the heart of a good Father rather than the heart of a teacher when it comes to seasons. He doesn’t just put us through seasons for us to learn, as a teacher would. But He leads and walks with us through all different seasons Himself, as a Father. Seasons are more than moments for us to endure but divine invitations to intimately experience God and all His fullness as a promise-maker in one season, a promise-keeper in another, a Father, a King, the Healer, the Comforter, and more.
WORSHIP FROM THE WILDERNESS TO THE PROMISE
“Worship your way through the wilderness into the promised land.” – Havilah Cunnington
While the best is yet to come for sure, let’s not miss out on the invitations that God is leading us into with all the different seasons we are in. Let’s not wait to build an altar or worship God when we get to the promised land and when everything is going right. My hope is that we would be a generation that can worship God from the wilderness to the promise. No matter what season we’re in or what we’re going through, my hope is that we would be a people that can love God through all seasons, worship Him throughout the entire journey, and have the heart of Abraham to say, “God wherever you lead me, I can worship you there!”