Holy & Whole

Stripping It All Away

As I sit down to write this devotion, it’s a little before 6am. Our house is still and quiet, the world remains dark, my family is sleeping. The only noises I hear are birds chirping outside of the living room windows, hinting at the sunrise that’s coming. Our living room is empty, with only a few random lamps, folding chairs, and packing boxes to keep me company. The sale of our house will be finalized in just a few days, and most of our belongings have been taken to storage as we await our upcoming move. All has been stripped away.

Upon awaking this morning, after having slept on a lone mattress on our bedroom floor, a song was playing in my head that I heard on the radio yesterday—The Heart of Worship by Matt Redmon. It’s a classic contemporary Christian song from the late 1990s that takes me back to such a special time in my life. As the lyrics replayed in my mind, the simple words echoed in my heart as I felt the Lord whisper again, “I’m stripping it all away.”

If you’re not familiar with the song, it begins, “When the music fades, all is stripped away, and I simply come.” The chorus continues, “I’m coming back to the heart of worship and it’s all about you… Jesus. I’m sorry Lord for the thing I’ve made it, when it’s all about you, all about you… Jesus.”

As we begin Holy Week, I invite you to let all be stripped away and to simply come back to the heart of what it means to worship Jesus. Friends, the world as we know it is being stripped away before our very eyes. It’s telling how times of crisis will quickly reveal in who and what we put our faith. The stock market? Modern medicine? Sports? A job? Our health? A school or degree? A society built upon instant gratification and convenience? Relationships? Material things?

Lent is a season where we strip away what might be distracting us from the Lord, and instead refocus our eyes on the death and resurrection of Jesus. When we began the Lenten season just a few short weeks ago, little did we know how quickly our lives would change. So many things we took for granted, all stripped away. But friends, when all is stripped away, Jesus still stands with arms wide open inviting us to come to Him. All we need to bring is a yielded heart—one that longs for the solace that only He can offer.

Holy Week is a time of intentional reflection—a time to truly consider the sacrifices Jesus made on our behalf as we look toward Easter. He laid down his life for ours. Lucky for us, we know how the story ends. However, the followers of Jesus at the time didn’t. For them, all was being stripped away too. Their Lord was inhumanely crucified and place in a tomb. As his followers, their lives and safety were also in jeopardy. Their hope was threatened. Their worlds were stilled.

This week, let your world be stilled, and ask God to reveal ways you can return to the heart of worship. In this time of uncertainty, be certain of one thing: If all is stripped away, as long as you have Jesus, you have more than you will ever need. This Holy Week and always, rejoice in the fullness of life that only Christ can offer.

“Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” John 16:22