Sunday, October 7, 2012
Bringing God Up to Size
At first he doesn't know that his invention really works, or that his kids are now just tiny quarter-inch beings on the floor. As he walks across the room, they run for their lives. When he sweeps up the floor, they get whisked into a dustpan and thrown out with the trash. Once it dawns on him what has happened, he searches frantically to find them. Using a magnifying glass, he explores his workroom inch by inch, and then the yard. But the kids are too small. Even as they stand on the kitchen table yelling, "We're here! We're are here!" he doesn't see them, even though his heart aches to find them.
When I read the words of Ecclesiastes 5:1-7, it makes me think of how we push God down in our thinking. How we inadvertently shrink him in our eyes. God stands right there before us, passionately crying, "I'm here! I'm here!" But we don't see or hear Him, because He's not big enough to capture our attention or hearts! Our minds and our hearts are elsewhere.
"Guard your steps as you go to the house of God" (Eccl. 5:1) Solomon declares. In other words, when you go into the house of God, go in tiptoe! Approach God with care. Now, why would Solomon say that? Because he too had inadvertently shrunk God in his sight. He was too busy doing his won thing-partying, researching for that next degree, making money and acquiring more. Busy with a host of things under the sun, so that God became smaller and smaller in his thinking.
Once Solomon realized he had shrunk God, he began the frantic search to find Him. In the process, he realized that some things needed to change in his thinking. He came to understand that he needed a different attitude if God were to come back to size for him again. So we find three well-driven nails to hang our relationship with God on. They secure our worship and perspectives of Him:
1. Go into God's presence on tiptoe. Approach Him with care and listening ears and responsive hearts (Eccl. 5:1)
2. Do not daydream in Church. "Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God... Let your words be few... In many dreams and in many words there is emptiness" (Eccl. 5:2-7)
Solomon may be referring to our tendency to evaluate and comment on everything that we experience while "doing church." All those silent things we say to ourselves in our heart, or whisper to another worshipper, or gossip about during Sabbath afternoon dinner or potluck. Things like: "This is boring!" "I'm not getting fed." "They sang that out of tune." "Why didn't the sound man... ?" "We're running late again." "The organ's too loud." "I wish the pulpit was bigger." "Nobody said hello to me." "Who's that big-eared fellow with that fancy-dressed gal?" "That's the tenth time the preacher said 'uh' in his sermon." "This pew is uncomfortable." "I don't know this song."
Solomon will say, "Be careful what you think and say in your heart. For when you are busy evaluating everything, God shrinks in our eyes. We are not able to gain the blessing that is there for us to receive. But when we watch the kinds of things that go on in our heart and the attitudes we express, God will become bigger and bigger in our eyes. Remember, God is in heaven, and we are on earth. That is a statement of perspective, not distance. It is we who are ultimately critiqued, not God."
(3) Keep your committments. "Pay what you vow! It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay" (Eccl. 5:4-).
Solomon reminds us that God takes our promises seriously. A promise made to God or before God becomes a covenant with Him, and God does not regard such toys lightly. After all, He is the covenant-keeping God. If we are serious about the committments we've made, God will become more important in our life.
a. Draw near and listen well.
b. Be careful what you say in your heart.
c. Keep your promises.
If you do these things, God will not shrink in your life.
Adapted from Larry Litchenwalter, Well Driven Nails: How to Find Contentment in a Disappointing World, p. 73-79