Wandering with Pencils

I had one of those Sundays.  One of those worship experiences where I walked in unprepared, struggled to keep up, and left thankful God doesn’t give us a grade for enthusiastic worship each week, because I flunked the quiz.

Recently I started to attend a church that shares another church building, so our worship is in the late afternoon.  I like that.  We never walk out the door to go to church angry, as often happened when we’d oversleep or have trouble waking up a child.  No, our Sundays are now lazy and wonderful, and there is plenty of time to slow down mentally and spiritually, discard the distracting events of the week, and walk into church focused.

But then there are the days like yesterday.  I watched people talking and laughing and felt out of the loop, although I’m in exactly the same loops as last week when I didn’t feel that at all.  I didn’t get excited about the songs.  Every little thing distracted me–shuffling, whispering, motion–all of which happen any time people sit in a room and try to be still and silent.  Nothing was different, but I just didn’t engage, and mentally I was rather whiny and impatient with it all.

I know I didn’t walk in ready.  I had a busy Saturday, and I was still a little worn out and had gotten too much sun, and I skipped my Saturday evening Bible reading, which really focuses my next day.  Okay, that’s sort of an excuse.  And I went out with my daughter before worship–usually I don’t shop on Sundays, but I let it slide this week as said daughter asked for my company and is getting married in five weeks and leaving the nest.  So I didn’t unwind as much as normal.  Another decent excuse, I suppose, discounting the fact that I wasn’t doing much resting on the Lord’s Day. (And for the sake of the point of this post, we’re just going to discount that.)

It certainly wasn’t the message, although maybe…  Maybe it was the message.  You see, the message was really good.  Things I needed to hear, and things I’ve already been considering, and I never take it for granted when I have a thing in mind and God shows me the same thing from many angles.  So perhaps I found myself in the midst of a spiritual battle, and I don’t think I won the round.  I should expect a battle every time I step into the presence of God, but I just sauntered in without preparation and then found myself surprised when God wanted to speak to me and Satan didn’t really want me to pay attention.

I think I need a refresher course in spiritual battle.  I don’t act like I have an enemy.  I don’t always know how to discern if roadblocks are from my own sin or an enemy deceiving me, and I wonder how often I miss the mark by not having a clearer idea of the spiritual workings in my life.  Definitely an area where I need to focus and learn and study–if God considers me a soldier and asks me to wield a sword, I need a better handle on the techniques of battle.

At one point during yesterday’s worship an adorable little toddler was wandering a bit and picking up pencils from the pews as she came to them, and I had to smile, because mentally I was very much that little girl, letting my mind go wherever it pleased and getting diverted by every pencil–every stray thought that entered my head.  I doubt God thought I was being as cute as that little toddler, though.  He wanted to meet with me, and I wasn’t holding up my end of the visit at all.

Next week,  I make sure I take time Sunday to pray or read or nap or whatever it takes to calm my mind and focus it and prepare–even get excited!–for the meeting to come.  I hope to walk into worship realizing I may have to fight to visit with God and try not to spend my time in God’s amazing presence wandering with pencils.  While it’s a fine pastime for the little ones, I should be past that stage and engaging like a spiritual grown up.

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