Worship – it is what we are made for. Saint Augustine says, from “The Confessions”;
“And so we men, who are a due part of your creation, long to praise you – we also carry our mortality about with us, carry the evidence of our sin and with it the proof that you thwart the proud. You arouse us so that praising you may bring us joy, because you have made us and drawn us to yourself, and our heart is unquiet until it rests in you.”
Well, in nature there is a picture that certainly helps me as I think about my own meager offerings of worship and praise. Whale Vomit. Yes, you read that right.
Spurgeon once said,
“Let your thoughts be psalms, your prayers incense, and your breath praise.”
This sounds great, but let me say again then . . . Whale Vomit.
On the one hand – God is amazing, He is stunning, He is worthy to be praised – He is WORTH it, hence our understanding worship to mean WORTHShip, giving something its worth.
On the other hand – I know I am not amazing. I am not stunning. Scripture highlights this when it comes to what we can offer to God, Isaiah 64:6,
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf,and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
Pretty damning stuff. Nothing I have that I can give matches the perfection and the gobsmacking amazingness that is God.
In other words: Whale Vomit. (we are getting to why in a minute, I promise).
Scougal, a Scottish legend when it comes to devotional writing wrote an awesome little book called, “The Life of God in the Soul of Man”, (check it out if you have never read it), in this he says,
“The worth and excellency of a soul is measured by the object of its love.”
That sounds about right. My worth has nothing to do with me, because my best just isn’t up to much – it is all to do with where I direct my attention, what is the object of my worship? Who do I worship? What nurtures my soul? . . . It is all about the one we worship – God. Not what we have to offer Him.
Wait though . . . something CHANGES when those God created (however messed up we have become through sin and selfishness, our weaknesses), turn to Him in worship and adoration. God is not changed by our worship – He cannot get better, be more Holy, be “added to” by anything we can bring and offer. No. We are changed.
The thing about Whale Vomit is this – it is the rubbish the Whale needs to get rid of, there is a technical term for this stuff the whale dispels, it is called Ambergris. The Whale normally Poos this stuff – unless it builds up and gets too big, in which case it is understood that the whale vomits it out of its mouth. Now over time, with this natural rubbish that the whale needs to get rid of – something incredible happens. The smell becomes sweet, musky, earthy AND costly! A man found a great lump of it and was told he might get as much as £100,000 for it – that is sick!
This ambergris has been used for years to create perfume and incense. It may well have been used in tabernacles and temples in the Old Testament days to make incense that was to be a constant fragrance of worship in the holy places. God CHANGES us and CHANGES our rubbish stuff, offered humbly, into something sweet, something costly, something beautiful. Jonah was vomited from a big fish and brought something sweet to the people of Ninevah (and, eventually, even Jonah was changed – but it took time!)
I don’t know where you are with your worship, what you offer God, whether you think it is worth it, whether God notices. Whatever you think as you give the best of your rubbishness – just remember.