Encountering Salvation Through Worship
It was a most perculiar situation. There I was, hiding in a shadowed corner of Franciscan University's Sports Hall in Steubenville, Ohio surrounded by (at least as I felt at the time) overly-excited American adolescents, all eager to plunge into the next worship song. It wasn't perhaps apparent to those lovely young people, but I was in the throes of having an existential crisis!
I had not long turned 18, and had been diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety. Crippling panic-attacks, often an hourly occurrence, made my life unbearable. Whilst I can't say that I ever considered ending my life I certainly didn't want it anymore.
Like many others, I was deeply wounded; my father was absent, my Mother was an alcoholic and sought the remedy to her loneliness in men. Most of them were also drinkers and so home could often be a violent, scary and lonely place. I was later wounded in love also, but that's a story for another day.
The point is I lived in profound loneliness for much of my young life and the madness of it, is that I eventually chose that solitary confinement! The thing I so desperately craved above all else (to be known, seen and loved!) I deprived myself of in an effort to protect myself!
I built a little kingdom of my own, retreated and hid within its walls. The retreat went so deep I eventually found myself in a solipsistic hell of my own making. Fear did whats fear does. It closed me in. The focus of my life became me, myself and my hurt - My Kingdom.
Not only had I cut myself off from others in my extreme-egocentritism, I had also unwittingly locked God out and unduly resented him as the cause of all my pain as a consequence.
And so, I had come to my aunt and uncle's home in the United States to do a "Geographical" - it's to say I needed a change of circumstance and scenery in order to begin some kind of recovery. Go figure! 😂
My uncle informed me on the evening of my arrival, that he would be sending me to a youth conference along with my cousins in Steubenville. I wasn't best pleased at the prospect having already fought through my anxiety to traverse the Atlantic Ocean. As far as I was concerned that was not what I needed! All the same, I went in obedience.
Cue the 'shadowed corner in the sports hall'. I will never forget that night! I remember looking at the blessed sacrament illuminated by a piercing spotlight, and for the first time in my life, doubting that Jesus was truly before me. I was blind. The sense of isolation I felt seemed to intensify in the presence of hands and voices raised and united in worship.
Desperate and weary I finally had to admit that I was beaten and couldn't save myself. I needed a saviour! A decision lay before me. Would I risk opening the door to a God who might not even be there? or would I fester away into lonely madness? The former seemed far more appealing! And so I began to cry out to Him from within my heart. "Jesus, if you are there, You are the only one who can save me! Please, I'm begging you, come! I open my heart to you, and I CHOOSE to worship You!" And on it went, "I have nothing to offer you but my worship, I will lift my hands and my voice and sing this song, just promise that you'll come! - I give you two minutes!" I kid you not, that was my demand of the God of the universe!
What happened next marked my life forever. As I began to worship, the door of my heart opened, and my spirit looked outward for the first time in a long time! what I hadn't realised is that there are two ways to come through that door: from the inside-out but also from the outside-in. For years I had felt what I could only describe as a great 'absence' within me, but in an instant I felt as though this vacuum was pierced by Love Himself and He filled it with His glorious 'Presence'! He was only too eager to save me! It was so powerful I couldn't breathe momentarily, in the same way the shock of falling in cold waters will snatch your breath.
He had never abandoned me as I'd thought! It was this experience of His perfect kindness that convicted my heart to trust in Him and leave my doubt in the grave. This is the life of worship!
I invite you today! Worship Him, and trust that he will come! He always does! For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Rom 10:13) He saved me and He will save you! He says to you, "My child, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways" Prov 23:26
Maximilian is currently fundraising to record a full-length worship album at the end of the year. To find out ways to support please click here!