Anchored · Inspire · Meaning in the Mess

How to Find our Way Back to Worship

It took a good ten minutes of wandering through the weeds and brushing blades of brown grass off grave markers sunk down deep in the dirt to uncover her name again: Zantippie Dunlavey.

zantippe

Long ago, my six year old cousin led me through our church cemetery, past the iron fence, over near the tree line to proudly proclaim this grave as the final resting place of our great-great grandmother. Of course we never knew Zantippie but as a kid I remember feeling a special honor and connection to that stone almost like it cemented my place of belonging in that congregation.

But time dulled, rather than sharpened the recollection and after years of being focused more inside the church rather than outside, I forgot she was there. My memory sufficiently jogged by an ancestry.com search as I pieced together my dad’s family history, I realized that several more long forgotten relatives resided under those ancient oaks in our church yard.

junious dunlavey

For 36 years I’ve attended the same brick church on the lush green hill. The parking lot’s gone from gravel to asphalt, a new fellowship building was erected, the picnic area abandoned, the membership ebbed, flowed, aged and changed. I’ve seen pastors come and go, the color of the choir robes and walls progress.

And I wondered, in my ancestor’s time, what color was the carpet in the sanctuary? (oh wait there probably wasn’t any…) Was there a piano? Did the organ exist? Were folks fretting over the ‘new’ music of their age which today would be the ‘old’ standards of ours? Was the old faded blue hymnal, which resides on my bookshelf now with a missing spine, a bright robin’s egg blue or was it more royal?

As the transformations continue, one thing remains the same: God. And whether our relatives inhabit the cemetery of our chosen house of worship or not, we all can be buried and live again in Him.

ZATIPPEE CHAIR

But between their labor and chores, the wash and the worry did they struggle like us with the workings of worship?

I’m willing to bet they did.

We’re quick to forget the way to worship and instead wander around in the weeds turning the map so the arrows point more to us and less to Him.

We honor the past too much.

We don’t honor the past enough.

Phillip Yancey noted in his book, The Jesus I Never Knew, “Jesus was not boring or predictable…” and I think that maybe it’s ok when our worship doesn’t follow suit.

Through stepping back in time, I’ve uncovered some timeless lessons.

We all want the best for our worship. To feel connection. To have things flow and be pleasing. These are all great intentions, but maybe that’s where our wants wreck our worship…

The only proper goal of life is that we manifest the Son of God and when this occurs all of our dictating of our demands to God disappears. ~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest.

And I find more good goals to go after in Psalm 96 and 63: The longing for God, fixing of eyes, lifting of hands, and singing of praises with joy. Christian joy- the way in which I think God intends us to approach any act of worship – is defined as, “A good feeling in the soul produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the Word and in the World.”

Don’t try to go back in time, go back to the bible. ~Anne Ortlund, Disciplines of the Home

There is beauty in all of God’s ways if we purpose- not just with our eyes, but in our hearts – to recognize and welcome it there. Worship isn’t what we get from God after all but what we give to Him.

Give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice… this is truly the way to worship him. ~Romans 12:1

zantippee

So I offer you a song – even if the hair is different than what Great-great Grandma Zantippie would have preferred, the message still rings true.

Our worship is changed when our hearts are changed. ~Branon Dempsey, Liftupyourday.com

P.S. Looking for more meaningful morsels as you find your way back? It’s my pleasure to create connection, community and sometimes cute stuff just for you! And I’d love it if you’d join our little tribe. Just click right here to get the scoop and a set of printable scripture cards! Can’t wait to join you soon in your inbox.

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18 thoughts on “How to Find our Way Back to Worship

  1. Hi Heather,
    I think it’s so lovely that you are near to your relatives’ resting place and can find their cemetery markers. Isn’t it nice to let our imaginations wander and wonder what they may have been like? I love your vintage photo and imagine that is your great-grandmother? Pondering the meaning of time can sometimes be poignant but considering that God is timeless is what we hope in! xo

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    1. Yes that is my 2nd great grandmother Zantippie in both of the old pictures ♥ Times are forever changing, and though it’s fun to look back God is always calling us to look forward and up! He is timeless just like you said and there’s such comfort in that ♥ I hope you have a blessed Wednesday! xx

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      1. I wish I knew!! LOL! (there’s not a lot of folks left living who knew her to ask…!) I did google it and apparently it has a Greek origin meaning “light colored horse” and was not uncommon in the late 1800s.

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  2. I love Upmost Highest and this quote is powerful. I love her name,love the photos. I often wonder if I will be still attending the same country church I have been at since I was 10 (minus a few short detours). God is good and I am rather glad Jesus wasn’t predictable. It makes for an adventure!

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  3. Hey Heather,
    Thanks for stopping by to leave a good word on my blog! I thought I’d return the favor.
    What a sweet post. I love old cemeteries!
    This line is really good from your post, “Worship isn’t what we get from God after all but what we give to Him.”
    I’ve signed up to get your emails and followed you on social media.
    Glad to connect with you~
    Blessings,
    Melanie

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    1. Aww! Hey again Miss Melanie! Thanks for the signup ♥ I hope you’ll continue to be blessed. I love them too– it was interesting to see how many of the really old headstones noted that they were asleep or resting with Jesus! Guess it reminds us of the work and toil they had to endure back then… Thanks for taking a moment to hop over- I’ve enjoyed connecting with you too! xo Come back anytime! ♥

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  4. I’m so happy to visit you again, Heather. Thanks for sharing your sparkle with me and my readers earlier today.
    I pray that wherever we find ourselves, we will always seek to worship God in spirit and in truth.
    By the way, I just love these old photos! They remind me of my grandparents and great-grands as well.
    Marva | sunSPARKLEshine

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Marva! So glad you stopped over! Yes worshiping in spirit and truth is something our pastor mentions often– I knew I was in good company with you!
      And old pictures are my favorite too 🙂 My mom has about 50 photo albums I can remember flipping through as a kid ♥ Have a marvelous Monday!

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  5. Loved the historical perspective Heather!! and so good to read a little more of your story. Oh the photos.What a rare and lovely thing to have been attending the same church since childhood. I like how you posed the question “did they struggle like us with the workings of worship. I’m willing to be they did.” We can easy assume that we are the only ones that struggle to incline our hearts to Him but it is an age old human issue isn’t it. Another thought provoker. Thank you (love the new look of your blog – fresh, warm and inviting !!)

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    1. ♥♥ I’m getting a lot of feedback on the old photos… I may have to raid my mom’s albums some more! LOL! I think it’s the devil’s trick to try and make us think we’re alone… and he’s so good at it. So glad I have faith-full friends like you to remind me I’m not the only one! And thanks for noticing my new online “outfit”! xo

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