It hit me like a ton of bricks. and I was not proud.
So this morning at church I was singing. It was one of my favorite hymns, and one of the classics of the faith. I was into it. We were created to worship our Creator and bring him glory, and singing songs of praise with other Christ-followers is one of my favorite ways to do that.Then a funny thing happened. We were singing the second verse, which is about how all of God's creation sings out in praise to him just by their very existence.
All thy works with joy surround thee,
Earth and heaven reflect they rays.
Stars and angels sing around thee,
Center of unbroken praise.......
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flowery meadow, flashing sea.
Chanting bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in thee.
That's right. As you might have guessed from the font colors, I started to fade. My mind started to drift. And by the end of the verse I wasn't worshiping at all. Heck, I wasn't even paying attention to what I was saying, much less the God I was singing to.
And I know exactly where my mind went. I began thinking about God's creation and how beautiful it was. And then the meadow. My mind wandered to an incredible meadow in Salisbury, England. So beautiful, one of the prettiest places I've ever been. So breathtaking. And how I would love to go back there. And before I knew it, we were halfway through the next verse and I had not been thinking about the Creator of all that beauty at all. Kinda missing the point.
And a passage of Scripture came to mind. A picture of why we so desperately need to be rescued, beginning with our distortion of God's revelation and ending with us not knowing the difference between good and evil. Romans 1:18-32. Read the whole link because context is always important, but it was this verse that shot through my mind like an arrow:
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator - who is forever praised. Amen. (v. 25)Worshiped created things rather than the Creator. Ouch. Like a meadow in Salisbury. Like the enjoyment I get from hanging with family and friends. Like the satisfaction of a job well done at work. Like the money I receive for that work, as if God didn't provide it all. Like the fun of watching my favorite sport. Like the way a good story resonates in my soul, whether from a movie, a TV show, or a book.
All good things. All awesome things! Why are they awesome? Because they are provided by an awesome God, designed to point us toward him so we can worship in gratitude and thanksgiving.
But nooooooooo. So often I let myself enjoy all the good things the Father provides for the sake of themselves, without acknowledging the glory of the One who gave them.
Worshiping and serving created things rather than the Creator.
It's easy to see where I went astray in church this morning. After all, church is supposed to be about God. And it was, until I made it about me and my enjoyment.
But wait - life is about God. Not just church. And the path to all the horrible things in Romans 1 is a slippery slope, one that starts when I worship and serve created things. God, rescue me from that thinking. The next time I'm enjoying a movie, may I think of the creativity of the God who gave us minds to write great stories. The next time I'm hanging with friends, may I think about and thank the One who created us for enjoyment.
And the next time I'm singing a worship song, Lord, help me to worship. "Center of unbroken praise" indeed. Amen.