Monday, May 8, 2017
Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
This Psalm is the standard for preachers describing how you’re supposed to go to church, all glad, shouting, and singing with joy from the heart. We are sheep led by the Shepherd, thankful for His protection and faithful care.
But some days you feel down, deflated, or just plain grumpy; life has gone wrong and you can’t muster-up a grin, much less a joyful shout of praise. I have had a number of conversations with people over the years who have told me they sometimes didn’t want to come to church to face all the phony smiles people put on their faces because it’s Sunday, and that’s how you’re supposed to look in God’s house. Their confession often was: I went anyway. And, mostly, the follow-up statement was that they felt much better for having gone. A few confessed what I suspect is the more common reality, that they felt better, but spent most of the worship time despising those who had their pasted-on happy face.
I call it flat tire worship!
I haven’t had a flat tire in several years, but I’ve had enough of them to remember the frustration of being inconvenienced, and having to get down in the muddy ditch to work at putting on the spare (which sometimes was flat in the trunk, thank you very much!).
Tires never go flat at convenient times. The last one I had was about four years ago driving home from a church meeting on a particularly hot and rainy August night. My car was new, but nails on the road don’t know that. It was nearly pitch dark on the back country road, and I hadn’t even located where the lug-wrench might be. Even when I found it, I didn’t know you had to use a hidden-in-the-glove-compartment special tool to get the wheel covers off, just to start changing the flat. Had it not been for a Sheriff’s deputy who happened to cruise by and stopped to help, I might still be there today!
So…what about when our worship is of the flat-tire variety? What about when all we can muster is an insincere pasted-on smile to go along with half-hearted praise?
1. God already knows what your heart is like, and the kind of week you’ve had. He sees past your pasty smile; so go ahead, offer Him what you can, even if you don’t feel like it…you probably get an “A” for effort in spite of yourself.
2. Confess to God in that worship time just how much you don’t feel like worshiping, and how you’d like to wipe a few phony smiles off some other faces.
3. Consider what a flat tire does to you, particularly when you least expect it, when you’re in a hurry, or how this rude occurrence places you in a vulnerable position where you are not in control, and least-able to handle the outcome.
Flat tires force you to slow down, stop, face the problem, and change; you also might need help.
Sounds like worship to me!
If a flat tire comes your way, you have two choices, curse the thing, or make a change.