Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. – Jesus
That man is perfect in faith who can come to God in the utter dearth of his feelings and desires, without a glow or aspiration, without the weight of low thoughts, failures, neglects, and wandering forgetfulness and say to him, “Thou are my refuge.” – George MacDonald
Irreligious Thought: On Sunday I heard a pastor confess in an opening prayer for worship, he was not excited to be there. I cannot tell you how much that meant to me and my wife.
Am I the only one who has looked at facebook or Twitter on Sunday morning and saw where so very many people were ‘excited’ about going to church and thought, “Really?” Not because you think they are lying. You just cannot imagine being so. Excited, that is.
A confession: I am not always excited about going to church.
And to make it worse, I’m a pastor. Actually, let’s be honest, I am rarely ‘excited’ to go to church. The question used to swirl around in my mind, “Is something wrong with me?” Am I supposed to be ‘excited’ about church? Are you supposed to feel ‘excited’ about corporate worship? What if you are not…really…’excited?’
Cue up our recent visit to the church where my wife and I met over 13 years ago. It’s where we heard grace clearly for the first time. We had just sat down after singing a song, led by my friend, Jason. And the Missions Pastor stands up to pray and he confesses at the very beginning of his prayer how he was not excited about going to church that morning. I was encouraged.
I have no problem with people saying they are excited about going to church. Actually, I guess I am glad there are those who react to the week-in and week-out rhythms of corporate worship with excitement. I’m just not one of them.
Expectantly. With hope. Some humility. And a desire to hear from God. But excited? The word feels…how do I say this?…plastic. Or as Lewis might describe it, ‘tinny.’ Was this the way the saints of old came together? Was this the expectation for nearly two millennia? Is this the expectation now?
When Jesus tells us – all of us who labor and are heavy laden – we are to come to him for rest, I assume we don’t only come to him like this the first time we come. My assumption is we are always to come to him like this, as those who are likely to labor under a heavy load of guilt and coldness and confidence in our efforts instead of rest in him. We are to come with a faith expecting rest.
This should be encouraging. Encouraging because I cannot be the only one who comes in faith but rarely – if ever – with excitement. My temptation has been to be discouraged at my lack of excitement. But the excitement is not where the encouragement comes from. It comes from the Person who gives rest to those who are not. Excited, that is.
(Full list of ‘Irreligious Thoughts’ here.)