Growing in Worship by Jared Duran

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The past two months here in HLI have been really valuable. Being able to watch the community at the Duluth Vineyard has really excited me. I am seeing new ways to pursue Jesus alongside others. I have been growing in community, my personal relationships, serving, and finding rest in God.

Nothing, however, has been more exciting or dramatic as the way Jesus has been working in me in how I worship Him.

I have always had trouble connecting to Jesus in worship. Ever since I can remember worship was just a battle of trying to ignore all the random thoughts flooding my head in an attempt to focus more on God, and think about how good He is. Over the last few weeks and even the last two days my view and experience has been radically changed. While at the Green Lake regional retreat I found, once again, that connecting in worship was difficult. At the end of the first evening of the retreat the speaker called for men who felt that a heart connection with Jesus in worship was difficult to raise their hand. I raised my hand, and almost immediately had a worship pastor praying and prophesying over me. God revealed to him all the ways I had put expectations on myself for what I should feel or how I should act in worship. The man praying for me reminded me that worship is far more than just the music we sing. It can be anything we do in response to who God is and what He has done. As he prayed over me, I began to feel those expectations and anxiety around worship fall away.

On the second day of the conference, as we gathered in the conference center to worship, I began to feel those same old feelings of shame that I was doing something wrong and wasn’t connecting the way I should. Thankfully, God wasn’t finished with what He was doing in me yet. There was another call during ministry time for anyone who felt God was speaking to them about worship during the session. Everyone who went forward began worshipping. It was at this moment that I, for the first time, experienced a new kind of worship. I was singing louder than I ever had before and I wasn’t embarrassed or worried. It was just me and Jesus, and it was perfect.

This isn’t the only story like this that I have experienced during these two short months of HLI. I could tell at least 3 or 4 similar stories, and our time at Duluth isn’t even close to being over. I am excited to see what God does next in me and my classmates. I have never been this full of anticipation for what will happen next!

Mary McKellick