How we approach a situation reveals what we expect to find.
Imagine it is 2 A.M. and I’m asleep. My wife taps my shoulder and says, “I heard something. I think there’s an intruder downstairs.” My mind immediately kicks into high-gear. I reach underneath my bed and grab a 7-iron — to protect the family — and slowly make my way to the kitchen where my wife heard the sound. Even though I live in a hundred-year-old house, I know exactly how to sneak down my staircase without making a creak. My heart pounds in the still night. My eyes search in the dark: the doors, the hallway mirror, the main-level windows that I know a person can squeeze through.
Meanwhile, my wife is upstairs with her phone. She has dialed “9” and “1,” and she has her finger waiting on that second “1.” She’s waiting for me to scream, or for someone else to scream after I yell, “Fore!”
See, my whole approach to this situation reveals what I expected to find.
The Dragon This Time
But now imagine that at 2 A.M. my three-year-old son taps my shoulder, “Daddy, there’s a dragon underneath my bed.” I smile dreamily at him. “Okay, pal,” I mumble. “Let’s go take care of that dragon.” Slowly, I slip out of the covers and drop my feet on the bedroom floor. Holding his hand, I stumble toward his room. But don’t confuse my walking for waking; I am still in stage two of R.E.M. — pretty much unconscious. I get to my son’s room and kneel down, dutifully sticking my face under his bed. “Nope,” I say, “No dragons under here. Go back to sleep, little buddy. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Now, we know this would have been very different had I thought dragons were real. The point stands: how I approached the situation revealed what I expected to find.
The Question Before Us
And here’s the question for us this weekend: How will we approach God in corporate worship? Do we expect an intruder? Or just a “dragon” under our beds? Is he a real person we will encounter? Or do we keep him imaginary?
Many of us open our Bibles claiming readiness to “hear from God,” but the way we really approach the word looks different. Maybe we just want to check off the box or impress our friends or pacify our small group leader.
Many of us claim that prayer is our opportunity to “speak with God,” but the way we really pray looks different. Maybe we just dash off a few well-worn clichés, again.
And many of us say we are going to the church’s corporate gathering to “meet with God,” but the real approach, well, it looks different, too. We stumble in hardly awake, like we’re chasing down dragons under our beds.
Real and Near
But God is no fictional character lurking in our imagination. He is the Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5). He is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). David says to him, “O you who hears prayer”(Psalm 65:2). And he proclaims, “Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts!” (Psalm 65:4).
As we come together in worship, God will bring us near — and near he will be.
How we approach him reveals what we think we’ll find.
by Matthew Westerholm