My great-great-grandmother was married to a Methodist pastor. While studying her Bible, she discovered the Sabbath. She was excited about this new truth. She shared the blessing of the Sabbath with her Methodist church. They thought she was crazy and gave her a hard time. They didn’t want their pastor’s wife going against the traditions they had held for years.
She couldn’t make them enjoy the blessing of the Sabbath, but she refused to miss out on it herself. From sunset Friday to sunset Saturday, my great-great-grandmother celebrated the Sabbath.
She told her daughter if she ever found a church that keeps the seventh-day Sabbath, she should join it. Her daughter—my great-grandmother, Nanese—waited to find such a church. If one existed then, my family didn’t know about it. They had to wait until someone realized they weren’t only supposed to go to church, they were also to go to the world! They had to wait until their paths crossed with someone whose Christianity did not stop in the sanctuary but pushed them to share in the streets. They were waiting for someone who had a worship that worked.
Eventually, a man came to town, and he shared the good news about the Sabbath. There were a few who didn’t want to hear about it, but my great-grandmother was an easy sell. Our family had been waiting for two generations to hear that truth. While I am happy that man came to my family’s town, God got there first.
God spoke to my great-great-grandmother. He also spoke to my great-grandmother. He prepared them. They were ready and excited. God did His part, but He and my family had to wait for a Christian to do theirs. Unfortunately, it took two generations of waiting to hear the truth.
Paul and Silas, his partner in ministry, ended up in prison. They could have been discouraged; instead, at midnight, they were singing praises to God. Their worship worked and shook the prison to its core.
One night, the Apostle Paul dreamt of a man asking him to come help the people in Macedonia. Paul and his team immediately set out to Macedonia. Through a series of unfortunate events, Paul and Silas, his partner in ministry, ended up in prison. They could have been discouraged; instead, at midnight, they were singing praises to God. Their worship worked and shook the prison to its core. The doors swung open, and the chains fell off. The prisoners were free.
The jailer was so distressed by this new development, he planned to end his life. Paul let his worship work. Paul shouted to the jailer to let him know that all the prisoners were accounted for and that the jailer did not have to harm himself. The jailer ran to the dungeon and brought Paul and Silas out. He quickly asked them, “What must I do to be saved?”
You might think that the jailer seemed too eager, too quickly. Paul and Silas could sing but not that well. However, this is evidence that God was in that prison, long before Paul and Silas were. God got there first. He was not just in the prison but also in the jailer’s house. That night the jailer’s whole household was saved. John 6:44 reminds us that people don’t come to Christ unless the Father draws them.
God had been working with the people in Macedonia, like He worked with my great- great-grandmother. They too were waiting for someone’s worship to work. They were waiting for someone to understand that it’s not enough just to go to church, one must be the church.
In Matthew 7:22, Jesus warns that there will be many who will come to Him saying, “Lord, Lord, didn’t I prophesy well? Did you see me cast out devils? Did you see my miracles?” Meanwhile, Jesus will be looking for a worship that worked.
In Matthew 25, it appears He’s not just looking for us in the pews, but in the prisons. He’s looking for the blessed to be in the byways. He’s looking for His children to be full of compassion.
“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me’” (Matthew 25:41-43, NLT).
When I was sick, did you visit me? When I was hungry, did you feed me? When I was naked, did you clothe me? These are the judgment questions. At the end of time, God wants to know, did your worship work? Did your Sabbath School lesson lead to love? Did your singing lead to service? Did your holiness lead to helping others?
We have families who have been waiting for generations to hear of the love and truth of our Savior. God is always at work. There are people God has been working with in your neighborhood. They are waiting for a Christian to whom they can ask their questions about God. They are waiting for someone to pray with them for their dying mother.
God has been working with people on your job. They want to forgive and be forgiven. There are people at the grocery store who are buying bread and water but still hunger and thirst for something deeper. God has prepped them, and now they are waiting for us to show up, to speak to them, to love them. It’s time for us to have a worship that works.
Andrea King is the communication director of the Southeastern California Conference.
God is always at work. There are people God has been working with in your neighborhood. They are waiting for a Christian to whom they can ask their questions about God.