There is a term in psychology called ‘flow’ that is used to describe the optimal, or genuinely satisfying, experience. A person in a state of flow is completely involved in the task at hand, losing a sense of time and self consciousness. The person operates creatively, with energy and focus, resulting in a feeling of deep satisfaction. Flow doesn’t just happen, though. It isn’t a constant state of being. Flow occurs most often when a person is overcoming a challenge equal to his or her level of skill.
Worship, both at the church on Sunday morning and in my personal life, is a time when I often experience flow. It doesn’t happen just because of the music, though. I used to think it did, but I realized over the years that worship is about more than music, just as music is about more than melodies and chords. Worship is about overcoming spiritual challenges and continuously building spiritual skills. After years of leading worship and performing in many kinds of venues, I still find myself feeling self conscious when making music in front of large groups. After years of practicing prayer and meditation, my mind still tends to wander away from thoughts of God and eternity toward thoughts of self. Thoughts of self consciousness–of the ego–have no place in flow. They inhibit the completely satisfying experience.
When worshipping together at the church, when meeting with Sunday school classes and small groups, when embarking on mission trips and when sitting at home in stillness and quiet, our thoughts must be re-directed toward God’s thoughts. When we discipline our thoughts in such a way, we build our spiritual skills. When the challenge of letting go of the self is overcome and we stay in the mindset of worship, the Spirit can flow through us, inspiring us to think, say and do things we may have never imagined possible.
Until we meet again,