It seemed to me wearisome, until I went into the sanctuary of God.
None of us really knows what brings people through the doors of the church. The range of interests and needs at any given time is too wide and too hidden to gauge.
Only God knows the secret places of the heart. But this is good news, for it’s the heart of the matter that arguably most interests God. In worship, as elsewhere, he’s at work at the seat of our inner life, the controlling interest within us. The heart is apparently where the Holy Spirit focuses God’s engaging and transforming work. “Our lives,” writes Eugene Peterson, “are after all, the stuff that is being formed” (Peterson, Eat This Book, 23).
In Psalm 73, Asaph brings his troubles to the Lord. He believes that God is “good to the upright, to those who are pure in heart.” But his statement of faith, his bedrock foundation of belief, seems at odds with what he sees all around him: The wicked in fact are prospering! Why wasn’t he prospering? He was one of the good guys. He was on God’s side.
Because of this, he laments, “my feet almost stumbled; my steps nearly slipped.” Asaph was tempted to chuck his convictions and run with the crowd. But even in his weakness he saw the duplicity in that choice. So in an act of sheer faith, he went to the temple to worship. There he regained perspective from the glimpse of God he saw.
We should never discount what can happen to someone whenever they come to worship – whether that’s every day, every week, or just on holidays. Even a glimpse of God can be a powerfully transforming vision. It’s been said that one of the wonderful things about being God is that you don’t need a lot of help!
We can’t know the deep personal circumstances of everyone who walks through our church’s doors. Only God knows. But we can be faithful and purposeful in depicting as clear a picture as we can of God who loves us, and calls each of us at the very point of our need to walk with him.
We never know just how God can and will use us week in and week out in someone’s life, but we can be bolstered by Ken Medema’s words:
We come to church with expectations small,
but Jesus comes to stand the broken tall.