I don’t know about you, but when looking for encouragement or prayers of praise in the Bible, my first instinct isn’t to flip to Habakkuk. Because of the size of the book, it isn’t commonly preached about or quoted, and it is really difficult to pronounce. My perspective changed, however, after witnessing the beautiful event that was Ascribe last night.
Around 3:30 pm on November 6th, 2020, a group of students gathered on the library plaza to worship during Campus Ministries’ Ascribe: A Night of Creative Worship event. There was much chattering and nervous energy as the students performing, event coordinators, and the audience got settled with picnic blankets, chairs, and hearts open to what the Lord was going to do through the event. After a few opening remarks and a prayer by two of Campus Ministries’ apprentices, more than fifteen students shared their talents, passions, and worship with the rest of the student body. A beautiful musical trio started the night, followed by art forms of every sort: worship through sign language, song, instruments, spoken word, and dance. Worship that began in the warmth of the beautiful autumn afternoon continued through to the crisp chill after sunset, taking the audience through a range of heart-felt emotions. As I sat on the ground surrounded by friends and classmates watching these things unfold, I tried to place a finger on what exactly made this night of worship so powerful, and I think it all goes back to Habakkuk.
Habakkuk was written as a series of laments, or sad ponderings, as Habakkuk carries on deep conversations with the Lord, trying to figure out the suffering in the world around him. In Habakkuk 3:17-19 (ESV) it says:
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail, and the field yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer’s; He makes me tread on my high places.”
Despite the challenging circumstances and the fallenness of Habakkuk’s world, his soul found reason to rejoice in the Lord, and Him alone.
And that is exactly what was replicated during Ascribe; students did not just bring their talents, they brought their hearts, their testimonies, their struggles, and their joy to praise the source of all those things: the Lord. Singers did not simply sing songs, dancers did not simply move to the music, poets did not simply recite written works, instrumentalists did not simply play their practiced notes. I think I can speak on behalf of the student body watching and say those in attendance were impacted and drawn to worship right alongside those performing. Each student brought with them a story, a way that God has or continues to work in their lives, and they poured that out through their talents in an intimate setting of praise to the Lord, just as Habakkuk proclaimed that “yet [we] will rejoice.”
All photos taken by Abigail Yoho at Regent University on November 06, 2020.