Warning: if you think God-stories are cheesy, you may not care to read this. If you’re feeling cynical, then you may not bother.
If I’m being really honest, I’m tired. I mean – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, etc. Sometimes life goes a hundred miles an hour, and it’s easy to keep going, harder to slow down.
I recently approached my boss about having Thursdays off so that I could come down to the church and work in the office. There’s not a ton for me to do, so I do personal stuff like read books, I’m reading a commentary on 1 Timothy for our upcoming sermon series, I prepare for my life group that’s on Thursday nights, etc. So here I am in the spare office that was vacated at least a year ago, surrounded by books and notebooks.
I decided I was going to turn on Hillsong’s Pandora station, because that’s what you do when you are working in a church. I did it sort of out of compulsion. I actually thought that, too – it’s just what you do.
I’ve made a bad mistake of lowering my expectations [I could write a whole blog on my cynicism of late] when I listen to worship music. At one point I decided I was going to be a theology snob and not listen to much worship music. That’s not really a great reason, either – because a lot of music is coming around and becoming more and more theologically sound. So I’ve made a habit of not worshipping on a regular basis.
[now, spare me the lecture on worship being about how you live life. I know. The Bible also tells us to exhort each other with psalms and spiritual songs. so there is Biblical precedent for worship music.]
It was the best choice I’ve made all day, all week, month, etc. It’s not a substitute for reading the Bible by any means, but when you’re like me and you’re not in the habit of reading the Bible every day to remember and be reminded of who God is, then worship music is a great tool to use to bring your mind and your heart back to a place where you’re gazing upon Jesus and reflecting on who He is. As I listened, God brought to my mind the events of the last week.
As of Monday night, I had been unable to take Erica on a date for about two weeks. I saw her intermittently for about 30 minutes at a time. She popped by the coffee shop one night after she got off of work, but then we got busy and she left to go home. One night I dropped by her apartment, spurning a delivery at work because I only had a few minutes between when I got off and she had to go to an event, so I got to see her for about a half an hour before we had to part.
It was nice, but it wasn’t enough.
God said, as He reminded me of that, that the way I love Erica pales in comparison to how He loves me. He showed me that the longing I had just to be with Erica for a little while is just a glimpse of how God delights in me and being with me [and I don’t mean that in a self-flattering way, the Bible says that God rejoices over us with singing.] Not to be cliché or guilt-mongering, but it’s easy for me to neglect spending time with the Lord, even though He loves me and wants my attention for at least a little while (side note: I found an old worship mix I made when I was in high school, and one of the songs was talking about how the singer loves God “endlessly.” this is one of the songs for which I took my theologically snobby hiatus from worship music. I do not love God endlessly. I’d contend few if any do. He loves me endlessly, but I do not even have an idea how to love God endlessly. Just food for thought…)
By the end of two weeks with no real date night with Erica, it’s all I wanted. How much more would God love to spend a little time with me, who He died for and gave Himself for?
All that is to say that God told me to stop what I was doing and just lay down. My mind has been in a million different places between work, navigating the waters of being in love with a woman, job hunting, leading a life group, thinking about licensure with Foursquare, working my second job as a janitor at my church, managing money, etc. And God said, “stop.”
“I never want to use my busyness as an excuse not to invest in our relationship,” I told Erica.
But I haven’t applied that philosophy to my relationship with the Lord.
All this is to say that I found myself indulging this morning – music in my ears, time on my hands, and the Lord said, “stop. I just want to be with you.” And what sweet rest that is! How sweet it is to sit in the presence of God, not bringing to Him the million things I’m working on – not coming to Him because I need to know what to say in life group, not coming to Him because I’m trying to put together a sermon, but coming to Him because He wants me to just sit with Him for a while and rest in His presence.
I was reminded of Jesus’ words (which we usually relate more to legalistic effort, and that’s true, but I felt they were appropriate in this case as well) when He said, “come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Sometimes life is a lot of labor and heavy loads – work, relationships, school, kids, money, meetings, trips, tax season, small groups, etc – but Jesus wants us, in the midst of all of it, to stop and be with Him.