Woolgathering

A “professional Christian” in youth ministry confessed in a recent seminar that

I can go a “long time” without thinking about God.

(K. Powell, May 2009)

She meant as much as several minutes, but in my case it could even be hours.

Have you ever had that experience? Sitting there, with your Bible open, it hits you: “I haven’t thought about God for some minutes now.” You’ve been thinking about a problem, maybe, or a regret. Or something you’re longing for — or dreading.

What comes next? A rush of guilt, or discouragement about being a “bad Christian” maybe? Now instead of thinking about what a bad Christian you are, here’s another idea: “Thank you Lord for reminding me that I belong to you. I’m glad you’re here and always want to listen to me.” Does that seem like a good idea? (No, I didn’t think of it; I probably read it in John White’s The Fight or some book like that a long time ago.)

A young friend pointed out a benefit of this approach: that whereas guilt is focused on myself (“Why am I such a bad Christian? Why can’t I keep the Lord in my mind for more than a few minutes at a time?” etc.) thanking God puts the emphasis on him (“Thank you, Lord for reminding me… you’re here and always want to listen”).

Who does this well? Dogs are pretty good at it! My old dog, Duke, would sometimes get sidetracked (literally) and forget what he was supposed to be doing. But when we called, he’d respond with enthusiasm and joy. No guilt, no angst — not even when it was warranted!

Where am I going with this? “Everything I needed to know I learned from my dog”? Not quite. But Duke’s joy and enthusiasm, his un-self-conscious attitude of worship, his focus on the present — he was a pretty good model of those. He was supremely confident in our affection for him, and in our ability to provide for his needs.

So if you’ve been woolgathering — and even if you haven’t — let us keep the Lord in view; Let us fix our eyes on Jesus. In the words of the song,

Let’s forget about ourselves
    and magnify the Lord
    and worship his holy name
O worship him
    Jesus Christ our Lord.

Bruce Ballinger

Easier said than done, but he will be our help.

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Explore posts in the same categories: contrasts, God's Presence

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