Lately, I’ve felt like a cartoon character in a Road Runner episode gone terribly wrong.
My legs feel as if they are turning like a turbine, but I’m not going very far. Stretching to meet writing deadlines, military duty and hospital obligations, I find myself missing more worship services than I’ve attended.
I know there’s a place in my spirit that needs to be retouched and recharged, but lately that recharging place seems out of reach. I’ve been impatient with my children, neglected my wife, and missed some important ministry to the children at the hospital. So last week, when I finally walked into worship, I felt like a sponge wrung dry.
But deep into worship – somewhere between communion and Amazing Grace – I become aware of a presence. It’s a feeling that gives contrasting pulls on my spirit. It’s a feeling that has the potential to make me aware of past failures while simultaneously calling me into a hopeful future.
From my foxhole on this personal battlefield, I peer out to see what’s coming and I begin to make desperate promises. This is the week I promise God that I’ll tell all of my children every hour of their
waking moments that I love them. This is the week I promise that I’ll visit every sick child in the hospital and pray for each of them until there is not a dry eye in the room.
This is the week everything will be different, I promise. It’s the week I will slow down and listen for God’s direction and it will be the week that I finally make my faith work. The worship inspires me to promise how I will move in the world such that people will note the remarkable aura of serenity that surrounds me until they too are pulled into a deeper faith walk.
My intentions feel pure and honest. My prayers intoxicate me with pious altruism as I feel not only a desire to save the world, but a willingness to sacrifice myself upon a cross to do it.
It’s an elated feeling not much different from the one experienced by the woman who was about to be executed for adultery. Jesus interrupted the execution with his famous quote, “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”
But it was the words he spoke to the woman that have always held my attention — “Now, go and sin no more.”
My guess is that the woman, overwhelmed with the spirit of Jesus’ pronouncement, probably felt as if she was being handed a sinless life – even though, no doubt, she did sin again.
So the question is: How many chances does God give us to make things right – to really take a stab at significance? I rather imagine the answer to that question probably equates to the same number of chances we have to worship, to commune, to meditate, and to pray.
Alas, if only I could stay in worship all day, maybe I could live a perfect life. But just about the time I feel enlightened enough to lead the world to peace and harmony, you can rest assured that my humanity will remind me that I can do nothing without the spiritual guidance I find in worship.
And so, as I approach a new week and a new worship, I will rely heavily on the man whose prayer went something like this:
“Lord, so far today, I’ve done all right. I haven’t gossiped, haven’t lost my temper, haven’t been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or over indulgent. I’m very thankful for that. But in a few minutes, God, I’m going to get out of bed. And from then on, I’m probably going to need a lot more help.”