The day before we left for the Philippines, I was walking back to the office after taking some photographs outside. I noticed a few students taking their afternoon break in the park. They had a guitar with them and were singing worship songs in the sunshine.
“Man, I’d love to join them,” I thought, but I continued on my way to the office. Suddenly, a thought rushed into my brain from God. He reminded me of the fact that He had called me to a practical form of worship.
You see, I spent the two years before moving to Australia falling in love with Jesus. My work schedule was flexible, so I often spent long hours learning worship songs on the guitar, meeting in homes of other believers, and spending time in conversation with God. Some days now, I feel like I would give anything to be back there. I long for the hours I had then to simply be with God. I am incredibly thankful that God taught me so much about Himself in a concentrated time and space. I know that He used that time so intentionally in my life, preparing me for a time of what He called “practical worship.”
The thing is, I am not naturally a very practical person.
As difficult as it is to admit it, I don’t really enjoy working with my hands. I’d rather not be constructing, cleaning, or getting my hands dirty when I could be planning, brainstorming, and creating without any elbow grease. The things I love are conceptual, like books, art, and ideas.
Chris, on the other hand, is the total opposite.
God did a really wonderful thing when He put us together. God’s word to Chris when He released him to marry me was, “prayer and practical are to be wed.” After two whirlwind months of marriage, we are only beginning to learn what it means for the practical and spiritual to compliment each other. What I know so far is that Chris’ hands-on mindset inspires me. I saw it firsthand in the Philippines as he worked tirelessly helping groups of people build water filters. I saw it in the small things, too, like how he cared for me while I was unwell by making sure I took my vitamins and checked on my fluctuating temperature.
My favourite time Chris’ practical heart was displayed was in the story of a man named Raul.
Raul is a man in his 60’s living on the streets of Manila, Philippines. He sleeps on the sidewalk every night in the same spot, unable to move too far because of breathing problems. When Chris met him, he hadn’t even had the strength to cross the street in weeks. Any hope to ever be able to travel to be with his family again was gone.
After our first encounter with him, hearing his story and praying for him, Chris wanted to go back. He wanted to wash his feet. He simply wanted to perform a tangible act of care to give value to this man. What happened when Chris returned to him was incredibly beautiful.
Chris and the team talked with him for a bit, and then Chris asked if it was okay to wash his feet. The man agreed. Despite confusing looks from onlookers, Chris diligently cleaned Raul’s feet. Right at the end of the process, Raul spoke up excitedly.
“My chest,” he said, “no hurt.”
He took a great, deep breath. Who knows how long it had been since he could breathe like that! Chris asked if he would like to try to walk across the street. He did – to the other side and back again! Not only was Raul well again and full of energy, but his hope was restored that maybe he could make the trip to reunite with his family.
When Chris returned to tell me what had happened, I was amazed. “You didn’t pray for healing,” I asked, “you just washed his feet?”
By a simple act of love, the Spirit of God had moved through Chris to heal this man. This beautiful encounter gave me an even greater perspective on God’s ability to work in practical things, and how the spiritual impacts the physical.
I know I still have so much to learn about “practical worship.” I also know that learning this is teaching me so much about myself. What encourages me is God’s ever-present guidance and wisdom. He often reminds me that “practical takes practice.” And for some people, like my husband, it comes naturally. I’m so thankful for that constant reminder of the hands-on love and care of God, and I’m so excited to see how God uses our differences in the future!