God and Hawaii: neither should be missed

Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Isunsetmagine that you won an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii. That’s a nice little daydream isn’t it!? Suppose that it was dark when you landed, so you took a cab to the hotel and crashed straight to sleep after your epic flight. The next morning you awoke and opened up the drapes to reveal a view of the road, as your side of the hotel didn’t face the beach; you had breakfast in the hotel restaurant and then spent much of the morning and afternoon camped out at the hotel pool in the courtyard. At night you took a cab to a restaurant for dinner, but as the Sun had already set, you never saw much of anything. This pattern repeated itself all week long, until you flew back home and rejoined your family, friends, co-workers.

Happy to have you back, one after another they peppered you with questions like, “How was the beach?” “How was the ocean?” “Did you see dolphins?” “Were the sunsets amazing or what?” “How were the mountains?” “Did you like the lava fields?”

And one by one you had to explain that you spent most of your time in the hotel, at the pool, in the spa, and out to dinner. At one point you finally realized that you had been IN HAWAII but you totally missed experiencing Hawaii! You might as well have been in Muldraugh . . . (sorry Muldraugh, I had to)

This dumb little imagination brings to life something that actually happens to us on a recurring basis – that is, we go to meet with God and totally miss God. Really.

Please don’t miss God on a Sunday morning. Really.

Don’t gather to experience him, and then come home after only singing some songs or hearing some words spoken. Really.

On Sundays we gather together for a special time designed to help us hear him, talk to him, and worship him, but we have got to be willing participants.

Meeting God in a worship service is like going to Hawaii – it can be awe inspiring, majestic, even life-changing!! But we must arrive ready to meet God; to experience him. Worship isn’t a passive endeavor. The only thing worse than going to Hawaii and missing Hawaii is going to God’s house for worship and totally missing God.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. In the car, on the way, say, “God, please open my heart to you this morning.”
  2. Show up 10 minutes before your service begins; that’s 5 minutes to visit and 5 minutes to sit and get your heart ready.
  3. Dedicate the hour of worship service to whatever God wishes to do in you in that moment.
  4. Leave your phone alone unless you’re reading scripture or sermon notes on it (everything else can wait 60 minutes).
  5. Realize that worship can still be a rich encounter with the Lord even when you 1) don’t care for a particular song, 2) don’t like what a worship team member is wearing, 3) don’t agree with a sermon point, or 4) find out that the person in the row next to you is a) imperfect, b) a funny dresser, c) socially stand-offish or d) doing something you find annoying. Sometimes our experience of God is most rich when things around us are imperfect.
  6. Go to the GHC App a couple days early and read the scripture passage for Sunday; come with it already on your mind.
  7. Strive to worship throughout your week as you live your daily life – let Sundays be a special kind of worship because you’re gathered with brothers and sisters in Christ.
  8. Live a surrendered life. If disobedience rules during the week, how can Christ rule on Sunday morning? Die to self, live to Christ, and worship will take its rightful role in life.
  9. If you ever go to Hawaii – go to the beach. Swim with the dolphins. See the sun set over the ocean. Climb one of the mountains. Get a sunburn. In short, go ahead and experience what you came to experience. Don’t miss it!

Clark Hewitt, Associate Pastor