“When the people of the land come before the Lord at the appointed feasts, he who enters by the north gate to worship shall go out by the south gate, and he who enters by the south gate shall go out by the north gate: no one shall return by way of the gate by which he entered… When they enter, the prince shall enter with them, and when they go out, he shall go out.” Ezekiel 46:9-10
When we come to Almighty God in worship, we get up changed. We cannot spend time with Him and return to life the same way. Thoughtful moments in the presence of the Lord, the Prince of Peace, alter our perspective, motivations, mindset, and methods. We rise from worship and He abides with us, now different from the encounter.
Sometimes the changes are obvious and immediate: a new breath of patience, a lifting of the soul in hope, a cheerier disposition, kinder tone of voice, ready words that bless. Facing the Lord Who forgave, and held His tongue, and did not complain, and tended to His mother’s care on the cross, infuses with fresh mercy, self-control, vision of the bigger picture, compassion, and tenderness. Contemplating His suffering and limitless love for me expands my heart in gratitude and love back, and love mingled with understanding for others. For what changes in heart, in my actions and reactions, can I presently thank God? How does worship affect the way I see those around me in my family, community, workplace? The way they see me? How does it adjust my view of and attitude toward the media, the church, those in God-ordained authority over me?
Sometimes changes take longer, but regular and consistent time with the Lord gradually softens hardened attitudes, dissolves life-long prejudices, tugs softly at ingrained habits until I see them with new eyes, recognize their danger or folly, and am able to relinquish them once for all. Where am I sensing conviction, or new awareness of something awry, that I might ask God to bring about a holy exchange? In what areas do I need a generous dose of patience, persistence, and fortitude?
The beautiful truth in this short passage is that the Prince is present when we enter, and stays alongside as we exit the gate. We never go to worship and part from our King as a subject alone, on our own. Our communion from time in the temple is carried within and along the way, making every moment holy, all of life redeemed. (Matthew 28:20b; John 14:16,18)
Father, have Your way with me in worship that I am truly, significantly changed as a result. May I never leave my knees the same person, but always more like You, more clearly reflecting Your glory. (2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:3)