Bridget Willard interviews Chris Nesbitt for The Worship Journals.
WJ What does worship mean to you?
CN Surrender & obedience. Surrender, in terms of who you are, and obedience as far as what you do. The more practical manifestations of “worshiping” or being a “worshiper” are simply the fruit of living obedient and surrendered lives.
WJ What do you think happens when you worship?
CN If we’re talking about worship in song, what happens and what should happen are, unfortunately, two different things much of the time. What should happen is transformation.
It’s kind of like a microcosm of what happens to me during a long fast—20 to 40 days, for example. It starts out like a treasure hunt. I’m on a quest for answers, direction or circumstantial changes. “Lord, bring breakthrough in my job, marriage, finances, kids, addictions, et al.” Along the way, and as hunger truly begins to kick in, I can’t help reminding the Lord what a great guy I am – a real asset to the Kingdom. Sure, there’s plenty of repentance and even genuine humility going on, but underneath the surface, I’m conflicted, at least on some level. “After all, Lord, have you considered my obedience and sacrifice? Aren’t you now compelled—even obligated—to act on my behalf?” Of course this is pride, but it creeps in under the auspices of sound Biblical principals. Eventually, though, at some point, a paradigm shift occurs, and agenda gives way to desperation. I begin to care less and less about my petitions, and cry out simply for Him. Soon, all I want is His presence. His love is my very sustenance, better than food itself. By the end of the fast, everything has changed, but not necessarily in my circumstances. I’ve changed. I’ve moved from leach to lover.
This is what should happen, to some extent, when we worship. And whether we worship in song for 20 minutes or 2 hours, the depth of the worship is directly correlated to how soon we can make that transformation.
WJ What causes you to worship?
CN Just as blessings cause us to praise, I believe suffering causes us to worship. It seams to me there are only 3 possible responses to suffering: curse God, doubt God (i.e., His goodness/faithfulness) or worship God. Even if we choose the later, it’s usually laced with agenda, at least initially. Over time (and prolonged suffering), the soul learns real worship. I’m not saying you have to suffer in order to really worship, but it [suffering] is certainly a significant breeding ground for authentic worship.
WJ How is worship displayed in your life?
CN See #1.
WJ What is your favorite song and why?
CN Okay, here’s my chance for a shameless plug of one of my own songs! …Alas, I have to answer truthfully that my stuff is not topping the list right at the moment. But I would like to subdivide the answer into a couple categories: Favorite song for corporate worship, and favorite song to listen to.
The first is How He Loves by John Mark Mcmillan. Something unexplainable happens in my soul, at a very deep level, when I sing this song. The best I can do is to say it’s like the Lord peels back or unveils layers of His love even as scenes of personal hardship and suffering replay through my mind. For the sake of analogy… when my first-born was a year old, he got his toes severely wrapped up and tangled in some loose hair until, by the time we discovered it, it was through the skin. The doctor needed my assistance in holding down my son while he worked at unraveling the mess. I remember my baby boy screaming and crying and looking at me like I had betrayed him. Even if I could somehow communicate to him that it was my love for him that was allowing the pain, it would take a supernatural experience for him to truly understand and embrace that truth. A little bit of that miracle happens when I worship with this song, and so far, I’ve not been able to sing it without crying, sometimes weeping.
The second song—fav to listen to—is Starfield’s Great is the Lord, from their second (and FANTASTIC!) album, Beauty in the Broken. This song is the cry of my heart at this particular season in my life. Here’s part of it:
If all I’ve done, at last should come to nothing
And all I love, like sand be washed away
Still I will sing of Your unfailing glory
On bended knee I’ll lift my voice and say
Great is the Lord, Great is Your name
Till my last breath I will proclaim
Great is the Lord, Great is Your name
I give my life to sing Your praise
Great is the Lord
If You should speak, or should remain in silence
Should give me light, or lead me through the dark
Whatever the cost, whatever joy or sorrow
I’ll worship still, because of who You are