Growing up I often played on the block around the corner from where I lived. There were children on my block, but for some reason, those kids living on my block went to other areas of the neighborhood. Daily, meticulously owners took care of their lawns. When we played outside, I would often hear in a scream, “Get off my lawn!” I didn’t get the big deal. It was just grass. As I matured, I realized that the issue was not the grass, but instead someone appearing to trample and disregard something given so much time and energy. Resources were directed to purchasing seed, a lawn mower, a water hose, the cost of water itself, and weed killer in order to have a lawn worth screaming about. And as a child, my running across it with reckless abandonment was a slap in the face for the hard work that was applied.
I can now relate. I also understand that what is important to me is not necessarily as important to others. What I have got to get under control is my response. People are always quoting the beauty and grace extended by Jesus, but fail to recall that he was the one who also turned over the tables in the 21st chapter of Matthew. Jesus was “turnt up” long before it became a hashtag. The space designed for healing, deliverance and worship was deliberately used for negative and inappropriate activity. Jesus in response, demonstrated his frustration outwardly. I may or may not have personally rearranged a room or two during the course of my life…but that’s another blog. The point here is that I often express my inward thoughts externally, not always through my words, but instead my facial expressions. I’ve worked on it, but the Lord has not yet delivered me.
Over the weekend, I was blessed to attend a worship arts conference, Footsteps by Greater Deep Tabernacle of Faith. If you missed it, don’t ever miss it again! During the conference, we repeatedly heard over and over again of the importance of our assignment as dancers, mimers, psalmists, minstrels, spoken word artists, etc. We were also admonished to continue to remain focused on our assignment, even when those around you are not sharing your same focus. It was illuminating for me, and assisted me in shifting my expectations of others to take what I hold so passionately. I am a worship dancer. I take it seriously. It is a critical component of the methodology I use to bring attention and usher in the presence of God. I have cultivated the gift God has given through expressing the goodness of God, trials and triumphs that God has afforded to me through the utility of my body as an instrument of praise. I’ve spent time reading books about dance, attended conferences, watching endless videos and dedicate time for rehearsal at home and at church for many years. It can affectionately be known as “my lawn.” However, simultaneously, as a worship leader, I experience deep frustration when dancers do not take care of their lawn, or minstrels do not take care of theirs, and psalmists who fail to do so as well. After all, our “collective lawns” create the environment conducive for growth and beauty to emerge. Our collective intentionality ushers God’s people into said greener pastures for those who perhaps have been unwatered all week long or for that matter, their entire life. Yet, I’ve been screaming the mentality of “Get Off My Lawn,” while simultaneously expecting others around me who are worship artists to skip through it, and fully enjoy and embrace its beauty. On my best day, I can tend to my lawn, and do so regardless of what others around me are doing. I have had to come to the realization that I am a gardner for Jesus, and not for the people, even those who are in the lawn business with me. Regardless, I and you must continue. You may recall that after Jesus threw the thieves out of the temple, he healed. When he departed the temple, he was hungry. He saw a fig tree and expected to get some nourishment. Must to his dismay, the tree was barren of figs. He spoke to the tree and stated that it would never bear fruit again – it died. Nevertheless, he continued on his assignment. What Jesus provides is the blueprint. It doesn’t matter how much inappropriateness we come up against, or how others fall short and refuse to “do their work,” we must remain committed to the greater that God expects of us.
We cannot hire others to take care of our worship. We cannot contract it out. We must individually be responsible for giving God his due. Each of us have thumbed through the pages of Home and Garden, or better still, took a run or drive through a neighborhood and can quickly spot the yard that has been cared for. As God leans in, is he able to spot the temples that are reflections of him? If not, let us gather the tools necessary to bring about the beauty that he deserves.