Monday, October 31, 2016
“What good is an idol carved by man, or a cast image that deceives you? How foolish to trust in your own creation—a god that can’t even talk! What sorrow awaits you who say to wooden idols, ‘Wake up and save us!’ To speechless stone images you say, ‘Rise up and teach us!’ Can an idol tell you what to do? They may be overlaid with gold and silver, but they are lifeless inside. But the Lord is in his holy Temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.” Habakkuk 2:18-20(NLT)
My bride, Elizabeth, introduced me to a concept of which I’d never heard before. Quite some time ago when I was pastor in McIntosh, Florida, she travelled the 18 miles daily to the University of Florida where she was studying piano performance. She and a friend, also a music student, were talking about dreading the drone of practice times; the friend told her to bring a magazine or book. Elizabeth assumed she was referring to taking a break to read, but she was serious; read a magazine while you’re practicing Brahms! My wife gave it a try and, she said it was amazing, as if her fingers had their own brain! She practiced piano while reading a magazine, and her finger muscles learned, and she enjoyed the latest edition of home decorating styles.
This is a particularly weird idea to someone like me who must focus like a laser if I’m to accomplish anything. I’m not much of a multi-tasker. When I’m studying for writing a sermon there has to be complete quiet, or I will retain nothing of what I read; I might as well be pouring over Sanskrit or Egyptian hieroglyphics. I once blamed a bummer of a sermon on the ant that walked across the room; his stomping broke my concentration.
For any beneficial (albeit “offbeat”) practice, there is a cousin which is not so beneficial. In worship, for instance, multi-tasking distraction is like worshipping a carved stone idol; not much is going to happen between the worshipper and that god! God rather flatly stated he would not entertain anything before Him. Frankly, your grocery list, or where you’re going to eat lunch after worship, and how you’re going to slip out quickly to beat the Baptists to that restaurant…is uninteresting to God, and rather contrary to the purpose for which church exists in the first place. It ought to be approached single-mindedly!
When King David was passing the torch of leadership to his son, Solomon, he had these words of caution about worshipping and serving JHWH:
“And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. So take this seriously. The Lord has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.” 1 Chronicles 28:9-10(NLT)
Take it seriously with your whole heart – there’s no such thing as multi-tasking this relationship with your God; you are either in or out.
I have seen the “out” when people are counting the ceiling tiles in a worship service. Granted, there are times when any minister will fail to make the service interesting or creative. But we must always remember we’re not there to worship the minister’s creativity or style of presentation; we are there to connect with holy God.
We live in a culture that bows down at the altar of multi-tasking productivity and honors new and exciting. Perhaps it’s time to slow it down with the kind of Sabbath that allows your soul to breathe.
When you next enter the sanctuary of worship, try keeping silent before the LORD; He really is in that place, you know!