Sometimes in life we see the things that we are looking for and miss seeing the things that we aren’t expecting. We become small minded and limited in our creativity when we are looking for something in particular instead of searching for everything in general. Whatever is on our minds or in our hearts becomes the obsession that are eyes are peeled to find. Humans have the special ability to focus on the desires we crave while ignoring the beauty that is all around us. And we miss so much because of it.
We look for the easy route instead of the road less chosen. We search for the perfect house for our family instead of the special home to share life together with them. We see the bad in others before we see the good. We live defeated in our weaknesses rather than celebrating our strengths. We fret about what is missing instead of what has been gained. We hope for the best, but expect the worse in ourselves, our work place, our government, and even our churches. We miss so much because we are looking in the wrong place or for the wrong thing.
It’s not just our problem currently. It is a man/woman problem for many generations. And it isn’t just about missing things in everyday life or in everyday choices. Our ability to see what we are looking for and miss the things that are unexpected gifts often occurs in our encounters with God. God shows up and we are looking elsewhere.
When Solomon brought the ark into the Temple built for the Lord to dwell something amazing happens. A grand parade led by the elders processed into Jerusalem, everyone offered sacrifices (according to their practice) like never before. The cherubim spread out their wings for the ark to rest on and not be profaned. The two tablets of Moses rested in the most holy of places it had ever resided among the people of Israel.
And a great cloud descended and the glory of the Lord filled the house. And King Solomon, man did he wax poetic in telling what he had done and what his doings now meant to Israel and to God. Then the King prayed one heck of a prayer and really got Israel fired up over how he had fixed things proper for God. Israel now would be special because they had kept God first and put His holy things in a most holy place.
God, you are welcome. Signed, Israel and King Solomon. (See 1 Kings 8 below.)
In case you missed it in the previous full paragraph I would like to point out that as awesome as this special service of temple dedication was, missed in the grandeur of the King and the sacrifices of the priests was a great cloud and the glory of God filling things up. Read the fine print. It is there. God came down and Israel was looking at how great they were rather than how awesome it is to see God in His fullness in your midst. Everyone was seeing what they wanted to see in the form of a new temple, a great religious celebration, and a king that spoke words that aligned the nation with God. Good news and a very good show.
But they looked past the greatest detail of the story being told. God was there. He was not far off in the past or in the future. God – the one of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – was very much present and showing off for this special occasion. Nothing they were doing was wrong or even unnecessary, but in their religious fervor the most important detail plays second or third fiddle in the story. They were too busy getting their worship on to notice what God was up to in the moment. That is the worst of possible outcomes when singing, praying, preaching at or about God.
To be clear, we are always in the presence of God. Never are we absent from Him. He is all things “omni.” But there are moments – sacred moments- when God shows Himself in an almost overwhelming way to us. Maybe it is in a worship service, maybe a wedding/funeral, maybe on a walk through the forest, maybe on a flight to Timbuktu, but it happens and we never forget it. What we are doing is always the secondary detail of what He is doing.
Listen close. In those moments that God shows off in such a way – shut up and get very still. It is not about the experience or the memory being made. It is about taking notice of the God of all time – the Alpha and Omega – coming close enough for us to almost see and certainly near enough for us to feel. Don’t mess up the moment with unnecessary words or thoughts reminding Him of how faithful or good you have been. Be still, be quiet, be changed forever.
Today when you roll into your church for the worship service make sure you are looking for the glory of God. If you aren’t looking for it you certainly won’t see it. You might walk in and out of the sanctuary happy your songs were sung and upset the sermon was too long, but ready to get to Luby’s for lunch. That will be time wasted. So much more is happening when we worship. Don’t miss it by looking for the wrong things or remembering the minor points. Don’t tell God how great you are or how awesome your church is. He already knows and couldn’t be more impressed. 🙂
The glory of God is filling this earthly temple and we all need to see that personally so that our lives are changed forever and our faith is full of the beauty of almighty God. Encountering God in His glory is the only worthy moment worth remembering. See for yourself today. If that’s the kind of thing you long to see.
For Proper 16 – August 23, 2015 – Sunday————————————–
Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the ancestral houses of the Israelites, before King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. 2All the people of Israel assembled to King Solomon at the festival in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month. 3And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests carried the ark. 4So they brought up the ark of the Lord, the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent; the priests and the Levites brought them up. 5King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered. 6Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the most holy place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. 7For the cherubim spread out their wings over the place of the ark, so that the cherubim made a covering above the ark and its poles. 8The poles were so long that the ends of the poles were seen from the holy place in front of the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside; they are there to this day. 9There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone that Moses had placed there at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites, when they came out of the land of Egypt. 10And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, 11so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.
12Then Solomon said, “The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness. 13I have built you an exalted house, a place for you to dwell in forever.” 14Then the king turned around and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel stood. 15He said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who with his hand has fulfilled what he promised with his mouth to my father David, saying, 16‘Since the day that I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city from any of the tribes of Israel in which to build a house, that my name might be there; but I chose David to be over my people Israel.’ 17My father David had it in mind to build a house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 18But the Lord said to my father David, ‘You did well to consider building a house for my name; 19nevertheless you shall not build the house, but your son who shall be born to you shall build the house for my name.’ 20Now the Lord has upheld the promise that he made; for I have risen in the place of my father David; I sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and have built the house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 21There I have provided a place for the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord that he made with our ancestors when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.” (1 Kings 8)