In the path of your judgments, O Lord, we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul. (Isaiah 26:8)
Every time we come to worship God together, we should come with anticipation.
In worship, we are about to encounter the living God again — the God who made heaven and earth, the God who authors and guides history, the God who took on flesh and walked among us, the God who bled and died to have sinners like us, the God who will judge every evil word and deed, the God who will one day make all things, even you, new. Week after week, that God meets with us in worship. And so, week after week, we are waiting to see what he might do next among us.
We are not waiting to see if he will show up. If we have gathered to worship in Jesus’s name, God is there. In fact, wherever you go, he is there, because he promised to be with you: “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). More than that, he promised to be in you: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
So we are not waiting for God to arrive. We are waiting for God to do what he loves to do — to speak, to direct, to convict, to comfort, to encourage, and, ultimately, to satisfy.
When we gather, we are waiting for God to speak afresh to us from his word. The God of heaven and earth has revealed himself — his character, his works, his desires, his plans — to us, and he has chosen to do so through words. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). That is why the Bible lies at the center of all healthy worship: it is God himself drawing us up into God.
The word of God not only reveals who is he for us, but also who he calls us to be for him. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,” Jesus charges every disciple, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19–20). A vital (and often overlooked) aspect of worship and discipleship is that week by week we learn to obey the commands of Christ — and not just some of his commands, but all of his commands.
If we are going to hear and obey the word of Christ, we will have to walk away from our sins. Anyone who walks into worship this Sunday walks in as a sinner. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). God does not leave us in that sin, though. Next verse: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Worship is one means God uses to open our eyes to the sin in us, to embolden us to confront it and put it to death, and to wash away whatever darkness remains in us. He especially loves to do that when we gather (Hebrews 3:13).
Everyone who walks into church walks in as a sinner, and we all walk in carrying some sorrow. The world is too broken by sin not to hurt us along the way, and some of those wounds are slow to heal. There is no better place to bring those wounds, however, than to the throne of God in worship. He has made our fellowship a sanctuary for sufferers: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction” (2 Corinthians 1:3–4). We worship the God not of some comfort or even great comfort, but of all comfort. So expect him to comfort you when you come to worship him.
Ultimately, what we are waiting for most in worship is for God to glorify himself — first in us, and only then through us. For God to be glorified in us, he must become what we desire most. “God is most glorified,” John Piper has said, “when we are most satisfied in him.” When you are most satisfied in him. King David sings, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). All pleasure for all time.
What are we waiting for God to do in worship? We’re waiting for him to remind us of the surpassing worth of knowing him — and to send the roots of that satisfaction deeper and deeper forever. Yes, God, we are waiting here for you, for more of you.