Choosing Worship in the Hard and Hidden Places

Written by Micah Joy Burke ChattHOP Staff

Last Saturday, the weather was just beautiful and I really felt like going for a hike. So I, along with some of my favorite people, set off to explore some trails through Civil War battlegrounds that we had never been to before. We found ourselves wandering through lovely paths through the woods, and since the season is starting to turn to spring, we took our time winding through the trees. Every once in awhile we found the paths pushing us out of the forest and into huge fields, where we could see war monuments and feel the sunshine. There’s something so free about an open field.

There’s a verse in Psalm 18 where David describes this sort of moment in his life with God: “He brought me out into a spacious place. He rescued me because He delighted in me.” I do love that scripture. But the reality is that before the Lord led David into this place of vast expanses, he went through deep distress. In Psalm 18, he uses imagery like “torrents of destruction overwhelmed me”, and “cords of death entangled me”… he describes it as being in deep waters.

Then the Lord rescues him. I want to learn from David’s story. I can imagine the doubt and the despair he must have experienced – having been promised the throne, but instead finding himself removed from his family and fleeing for his life. However, he attributes the outcome of God rescuing him –leading him into spacious places – as a result of his obedience before the Lord.

When I was younger I had such hopes of changing the world for God. I had hopes of leading worship for multitudes, and my deepest dreams were filled with a longing to sing all over the world and see miracles as a result. It may sound crazy, but I genuinely loved to see people experience the presence of the Lord so much that I hoped I could be a part of that happen through worship, in many nations. Through my college years I had so many opportunities to do that, and found myself in situations that were “dreams come true” – from singing at Hillsong in Australia, to crusades in Indonesia, to singing in the Staples Center in L.A.

In my mid-twenties however, this exciting season of life came to an end as I found myself living in the mountains of Tennessee, having been removed from familiarity, community, friendships and even my previous marriage. I had a new baby girl, and I was grieving. Life felt so small, so scary, so hemmed in. I literally had nothing in my day-to-day life but the faithful love of my parents and a tiny newborn baby that depended entirely on me. In these moments of unloading of the dishwasher, midnight baby-feedings, tears and nightmares, I heard the whisper of the Lord: “worship me.” And I would respond with such weakness of body and heart, “Lord, you are God… You are God.”

It was in these moments of feeling trapped in the smallness of that season – while choosing to respond to His beckoning with the obedience of hidden worship ­– that the Lord was doing deep things in my heart. He was showing me more about Himself, and delivering me from my darkness. Some nights I did indeed feel like I was near death, in deep waters that I could never come out of on my own. But I kept my eyes on Him, and He proved to my heart that He is strong and kind.

Life isn’t the same as it used to be. Ministry may not look like it did before, but there’s no question in my mind about the depth of trust and worship that I now walk in. My journey with Jesus is so precious to me, and my faith so much stronger.

Sometimes the trails of our journeys lead us into places that feel small, sad, dark, deep, hopeless, limited, frustrating.

Stay the course… you may find soon that the woods will clear and your heart will burst with the abundance of God’s goodness that you will witness in your life. David describes life in this spacious place, where his darkness is turned to light, his feet are made strong, and his footing secure. In this place, he is able to advance against an army and subdue his enemies, able to stand on the heights with victory and triumphant worship. May God grant us safe passage through the narrow ways when they come, and may we thank Him when we find ourselves in open fields.