Nikki Lambeth, member of Faith Church and wife of Faith Deacon Jonathan Lambeth has been worshipping “alone” for many years because of a physical condition. I invited her to share her encouraging story during this time of pandemic isolation.
-Pastor Brent Aucoin
A Guest Blog By Nikki Lambeth
Over the past weeks as I have interacted remotely with friends and sisters in Christ, I’ve realized that many are struggling with some issues that come along with our current level of isolation. I wondered why I was not struggling at all. In fact, I have been having a great time!
I finally realized the reason is that I have the advantage of time. I have had more than a dozen years of God using isolated times of worship to teach me lessons about what it means to worship together with my church family when I am all alone. You see, my brain reacts to a specific bass frequency somewhat like a seizure—though doctors still cannot fully explain it. If that frequency is amplified through a subwoofer, I am in physical danger.
Through all of this, I have received God’s comfort over and over. I have experienced God’s faithfulness in the middle of isolation. I have learned to work at living in community when people are not all around me. I have confessed the sin in my heart that was revealed when I was left all alone. I have found God to be enough when He is the only one with me during worship.
So, when those around me are struggling with things that have been a weekly part of my life for more than a decade, it is time for me to obey 2 Corinthians 1:4.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4: 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Worship is a community response of praise to God.
One of the first important lessons that God taught me about worshipping together apart is that worship can still be a community response of praise to God. It is easy for the truth that God is fully present everywhere at the same time not to be at the forefront of our thinking. Isolated worship served to bring my attention to just how important and comforting the omnipresence of God really is. I began to remind my heart that when I sang to God along with those on the screen before me, God hears my voice in concert with the voices of every other person singing. God is not limited by walls like we are. Jeremiah 23:24 says, “‘Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him?’ declares the Lord. ‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ declares the Lord.”
It does not matter if I’m sitting all alone singing along with the worship team on the TV screen. If I am making the choice to worship God through song, then I am joining in beautiful and very real community in the presence of God, alongside every other believer in the universe who is worshipping God at that moment. That is amazing!
Learn to truly delight in the presence of God Himself.
Through the years I have been regularly overwhelmed and amazed at the opportunity God gives me to stand before Him in worship. God has used years of isolated worship to teach me more of what it means to worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). I began to see the ugliness of my own sin of pride, and how much of my time singing had been about impressing people around me with my singing voice rather than focusing my mind and my heart on humbly worshipping my God and Savior. Whether you sing like an angel or make a joyful noise to the Lord, some of you may also find you’re thinking about how you appear before others. Isolated worship stripped me of the opportunity to impress anyone and laid my sinful heart bare.
Oh how sweet worship has become to me! I have never wished isolated worship on anyone, but I have often wished I could somehow help others see with me just how delightful it can be to revel in the presence of God. Alone, I did not have anyone watching me. Nobody cared if I fell to my knees as I realized my brokenness and sang it out to God. Nobody judged if I danced and cried with joy in praise to my marvelous eternal Bridegroom. God taught me to worship Him with abandon, and to quit thinking about myself while worshipping.
That is the second lesson God taught me that I want you to know. As you worship alone, learn to truly delight in the presence of God Himself. And then when your isolated worship season ends, continue to delight together.
God is Enough
One of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes is: “He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only.” My mind accepts this concept easily. My heart has required years of having one ministry after another stripped away by my loving perfect Teacher to begin to accept that truth.
During the times when I feel alone, I have God. That is a statement of truth that should simultaneously cause me to jump, shout for joy and fall on my face in wonder. The everlasting God who is eternally enough has chosen to be with me. In fact, God is so fully invested in having a close, intimate relationship with His children that He made sure that each of the three persons of the Trinity has a special role. God the Father has adopted me as His child. God the Son bought me with His blood, and then claimed me as part of His eternal bride. God the Holy Spirit indwells me. God is all in! Wow!!
The times I have spent through the years worshipping God alone have taught me that God really is enough. I LOVE singing worship songs with fellow believers. But when God decided that needed to be changed, at least for a time, He was there and completely capable of filling the relationship void. God is enough, and I can enjoy Him fully as I sing to Him in an empty room.
Learn to Be Grateful.
I cannot overemphasize what a huge difference focusing on gratitude made in my attitude and response to isolation
In the early years of worshipping in isolation I often felt sorry for myself. Naturally, that always led to a self-focused attitude that was just plain wrong.
When I focused on being genuinely grateful for the many blessings in my life, I quit feeling sorry for myself. I made lists–sometimes mental, sometimes written–of the many ways God has blessed me. I made a point to talk about those blessings to my family and to friends. I worked to develop the habit of replacing thoughts of woe-is-me with thoughts of thank-you-God.
People are Worth the Work.
Spending Sunday after Sunday alone eventually had the effect that I grew comfortable alone. I learned to really enjoy God as I worshipped apart. I was content and grateful. Then I found myself becoming lazy.
Since I was always alone during worship, it took deliberate effort to make sure I connected with other people. Sometimes it was physically draining or even painful to me to make that effort. I had to re-learn to invest in people. I had to learn to make time to pursue relationships with my sisters in Christ.
The truth is that even in times when the investment cost me physically, I was always thankful for the relationships that were built or strengthened as a result of that investment.
Today, that investment looks different. It is a matter of making a phone call, initiating a FaceTime or Zoom or Messenger video call. Sometimes I feel like doing something else, but people are worth the work and time investment. I leave these times refreshed and encouraged. I realize that I need it as much as the person I have called to encourage.
The Conclusion of Worshipping Together Apart
I am so excited about what God will do in this body of Christ as we all grow in understanding and reveling in the truth that we are NEVER alone. As we worship at God’s feet we bow alongside angels and Old Testament saints, as well as the rest of the congregation. Now that is something to be excited about!