Last week I had a refreshing chat with my friend, Carol, who also has 5 little children, as well as a sweet daughter waiting for her family in Haiti. As you can imagine, we had lots of common ground, the details of which would bore some of you. We talked about dressing our children for church and how, no matter how prepared you think you are, there is always that curve ball at the last minute… the lost shoe, the inside-out shirt discovered on a tot as he heads out the door, or the baby blow out that necessitates a complete change of clothing with tiny buttons and minuscule tights. As you walk in the door at church, people smile and hug you and think you are so pulled together, and they just have no idea the drama you went through just to get there: the tears during the very recent hair combing, and how the little girl went and rolled around on the couch right after you neatly french braided her wisps into some sort of submission. All that is just before the service.
Yesterday we went to church early, because my husband is responsible to print the bulletin. Then I remembered that we had forgotten some important papers that we needed to hand out, so I drove back home and picked them up. I got back just as the singing commenced and settled in for an interesting 3 hours of keeping 5 wiggly children peacefully quiet. About halfway through, a little girl wet her pants and the baby was mad because she didn’t have her favorite blanket. So I loaded them up and went home again to remedy the underwear problem and pick up the blanket. My husband is also superintendent, which means he spends about a half hour up front after Sunday School, during our sharing and prayer time. I just hoped the other three were behaving themselves while I was gone.
After that I spent most of the message time in the nursery with the baby who was no longer mad about the blanket, but now thought she needed sustenance that I no longer offer her. So… all that to say, some days it would be just a lot easier to stay home. In honor of all my friends, including you, Carol, I am reposting something I wrote almost four years ago.
Worship services just aren’t what they used to be…B.C. (before children) that is. In the old days, I sat up front where the singing was united and I didn’t have to miss any of the sermon because every third person around me had to go potty or needed a drink.
Last Sunday morning I had a serious brain lapse. In order to lure them into eating breakfast quickly, I got out the special treat I had been saving for them… Fruity Pebbles, that amazing mixture of food colorings and sugar. It took me about ten minutes in church to regret ever buying those things, even for 95 cents a box at the bent and dent store. The boy on my left was helpless to control his wiggles. Knowing he has to stay on the bench, his bottom stayed put, but the rest of him did serial squirming and twitching the whole morning. He made valiant efforts, after maternal prompting, to be a quiet mouse for 5 minutes, but it was just too much. I was seriously considering letting him do laps in the parking lot about then.
Meanwhile the other boy got tired of his book and was bored and wanted to write and needed a drink and was bored and hungry and tired. I understood that the message concerned our living hope, and I was blessed by the children’s lesson, but when the worship service was over, I didn’t feel like I had worshiped very much.
All of this is to explain why I was so inspired by A.W. Tozer’s thoughts on worship in “The Pursuit of God”. I quote, “We tend to divide our total life into two departments, unconsciously recognizing two sets of actions. The first are performed with a feeling of satisfaction and assurance that they are pleasing to God…prayer, Bible reading, hymn singing, church attendance and other acts of faith. The secular acts include all the ordinary activities, such as eating, sleeping,working, looking after the needs of the body, and performing our dull and prosaic duties here on earth. These we often do reluctantly, apologizing to God for what we consider a waste of time and strength.”
He goes on to describe the frustration and lack of peace that comes from this false dilemma in the mind of the Christian. Jesus, while in a human body, did not have a divided life. He said, “I do always the things that please the Father.”
Most encouraging to me is the realization that for the born again believer, every act of our ordinary lives can bring glory to God. All of life becomes a sacrament, an external expression of inward grace. Our daily labor can be performed as acts of worship to God in Jesus Christ. This is presenting our bodies, a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God…
I know all this in my head, and it brings an incredibly restful unity in my heart. Let there be no sacred/secular divide! Even in a service that is designed specifically for worship, and I find myself in the middle of child training!