Many, many years ago I met a wonderful old church lady. She was exactly what you would imagine. She had beautiful grey hair, wrapped ever so neatly in a bun, and she would wear a hat, sometimes large, other times small, but alway matching her blouse and skirt. I remember her wearing a lot of pink. When she smiled, which she did often, you could see her eyes twinkle behind her little metal rimmed glasses. I remember her always carrying a bible in one hand, held close to her chest as her handbag looped over her left arm. She said, “Praise the Lord” at every opportunity. She was my “church lady” long before Saturday Night Live made it a “thing”.
In church I would watch the church lady as she stood up to sing the hymns, as she bowed her head to pray, and she unwrapped a hard candy just before the minister got up to preach. She had a way about her. She was there every Sunday, rain or shine, in sickness and in health sitting in the third pew from the front, on the left hand side. She was quite a marvel to me. She seemed to connect with every moment of the service. She sang with passion even when the songs seemed slow and draggy. She was wide awake and seemingly engaged, nodding and saying the occasion amen, even when the sermon seemed long and boring.
One day after church, as the congregation gathered for refreshments in the fellowship hall, the church lady waved me over to join her at her little table. I happily abided.
“Mona dear, come sit”, she said sweetly. I did.
“Do you like church, dear?”
I wasn’t sure how to answer. ‘Sure,’ I thought to myself. ‘I like coming but the service today seemed unnecessarily long. The music was, well it was okay. And the minister ... if only he would liven it up or at least use an illustration or two, cuz I don’t get what the old prophet he was talking about today has anything to do with my life.'
Undaunted by my silence the church lady said, “I sure hope so, because this is what heaven is going to be like - an eternal church!”
I hope even now that she didn’t hear me groan!
Years and years and years have gone by since sitting at that little table with the church lady.
I have tried to be faithful, to do the right things, but I wonder, now that I am older and wiser (hopefully), Is it possible to do the very things that please God, yet miss the point completely? Can we do all the right things and yet are hearts are somewhere else? Do we do the right things out of some religious obedience?
On Sunday we concluded our series on Haggai. In part three we tackled a challenging text, but the most important thing we learned is that God wants our heart.
Then this morning, I read this in Isaiah 29:13:
The LORD says, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on mere human rules they have been taught.” —Isaiah 29:13
As I read God’s Word, time and again God says, “I don’t want your religion. I don’t want your sacrifices. I don’t want your religious festivals. What I want is your heart. Just don’t go through the motions to please Me. I want your heart, I want you to put Me first. I want you to love me with all your heart, mind soul and strength.”
Today, as you go about your day, consider this question: Does God have your heart, or just your “religious” obedience? Perhaps you need to stop doing some things in order to make sure you are doing the right things for the right reasons.
Jesus said "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and then all these things will be added unto you." — Matthew 6:33
Join us for a very special Sunday, as we take time to "Remember" and as we gather around the table. Come, join us!