What do you do when the answer is no?
Do you get frustrated? Angry? Do you feel out of control?
Lately, a lot of us are hearing no on a regular basis. No, we can’t go see our family or friends. No, we can’t go out. No, we can’t take that trip. Sure, we can think of things to do at home—try that recipe (if you can get the ingredients), tackle that project, garden, wash our hands—but we’re used to having the freedom to do so much more, and now we can’t.
It reminds me of other times I’ve encountered a lot of no’s.
Last week a friend asked me how our church was doing. She used to worship there too, but a life crisis sent her searching for something different, and she’s been a member at her new church for three years now.
I answered the way I usually do—the church is still doing a good job on the things they’ve always done well. The sermons are biblical and engaging, the music has a world-wide reputation for excellence, and the staff is dedicated. Short-term mission teams are being sent out and a new project will focus on the needs here in our city. People are getting to know God for the first time and disciples are being made. In fact, it sounds just about perfect.
Then she asked a harder question: how am I doing with the church? And I had to truthfully state that I’m frustrated.
It was a recent Sunday morning, and I was struggling to stay engaged as we sang the same words over and over. In case you haven’t notice, many popular praise and worship songs have pretty repetitive lyrics. Praise Him… Praise Him… Praise Him… Praise… What should I make for dinner tonight? Him… That lady in front of me looks really fat in that tight sweater. Praise… How can that baby sleep through such loud music? Him… I don’t like that guy’s T-shirt… praise… huh?
Something (Someone?) jolted me back to alertness and I suddenly realized that I’d put my mouth on automatic while my brain ran in a zillion different directions. I was paying tribute with my lips, but my heart was far from God.
Frustrated and convicted that I needed to do better, I confessed my distractedness to God. I asked Him to teach me to worship Him with all my heart and soul and mind and strength. As so frequently happens, God surprised me.