Sometimes, I think that we expect good to compete with worldly entertainment.
I think that Covid was good for us by forcing us to back off of so many avenues of entertainment and stay home and be quiet.
However, we made an end-run around what God was trying to do by filling our lives up with electronic entertainment: Videogames, sports games, movies, canned music, etc.
Even when we go to church we are often looking for the service to be entertaining. We want our involvement with God to keep us from being bored, to excite us, help us forget our problems, give us the feeling that we are doing our part, when we have done nothing but sit there. Even in church we do not join in the songs. If we do sing the song we do not think about the words. We might find the pastor’s stories and sermons intellectually stimulating or interesting, however we do not go out and find ourselves convicted and applying the truth in our everyday life.
I find it is the world that gives us artificial “highs”. God, however, does not show up in the earthquake or the fire but in the still small voice. He shows up in the boring repetitions of doing the dishes and going to work at a job that cranks out the same widgets over and over again. In quietness and confidence we find strength. He tells us to “be still in know that I am God.”
I believe, especially in this day, that choosing obedience and focus on God, when we have no emotional response, actually brings him glory.
I remember the story of a missionary who was incarcerated by the communists. He insisted on preaching to everyone so they put him in solitary. He was sleeping on the stone floor, using a bucket for bathroom and eating rotten meals. But the thing that bothered him most was having no sense of God’s presence. He cried out to God to give him a sense of his presence. Finally he said, “you have done so much for me already, you are so great and wonderful, that you are worth worshiping even if I never have any feeling response again, ever.” This was a great act of worship that brought God much glory. Shortly after, God’s presence flooded the room and shortly after that he was released to serve God and the larger world.
We might see other people waxing all euphoric in church and beat ourselves up for not having more “spirituality”. We might not only lack emotional enthusiasm, we may be downright turned off by the idea of doing things God’s way. Still doing things because they are right and God asks us to, is called obedience. You remember the story of the bad attitude boy who worked hard in the Vineyard all day when his dad asked him to. He was the one who obeyed, while the good attitude brother, who never showed up, was disobedient.
So, what is the bottom line? When God says “who will go for us whom shall we send?”, do we say, “here am I, send me”? Do we show up, do we yield our members instruments to obey? Then God is well pleased with this and we should be too.