Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday's Musings: Mouth Shut

Towards the Heavens
Rome, Italy, July 2008, photo taken by Kara Haberstock, all rights reserved

“As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut. It is evil to make mindless offerings to God. Don’t make rash promises and don’t be hasty in bringing matters before God. after all, God is in heaven, and you are here on earth. So let your words be few” (1-2).
So opens the fifth chapter of Ecclesiastes.
I know that I often deny God the reverence he deserves. It’s easy to think of him as a friend, the One who never leaves, a lover, a father, and to forget that he is the Sovereign God of all creation, who holds all things together, who deserves all glory and honor, who rightfully demands that all things bow before him. He does not exist for my benefit; I exist for his. And thus, that what I do in his presence, especially when I come before him to pray and to worship, should not be done thoughtlessly. I serve a God above all others, a holy, righteous, perfect, infallible, unfailing God. Yes, I should be honest before him, I should be myself in his presence, I can be confident in his perfect love. But this does not mean being insincere or irreverent. And it does not mean that it’s okay for me to ramble and prattle on. I know that God loves me more than anyone will ever be able to, I know that he loves me in the midst of my quirks and shortcomings, and I even like to think that he smiles at the little tics of personality that I have (such as fumbling over words and tending to rant on certain issues). But I must remember just whose presence I am sitting in. (With this comes one of the other major themes of this passage. Don’t make empty promises to God. If you tell him you’ll do something, do it. Otherwise, don’t make that promise at all.)
In addition, when I think about it, I often fail to give God even the smallest bit of consideration that I give to my friends. By this, I mean that I fail to listen. So often my interactions with God consist of me talking to him for a short or long period of time, then saying goodbye and going on my way. Sometimes I’m talking about how great he is, sometimes I’m making requests, sometimes it’s a mixture of the two. But I don’t stop to sit and listen to him. If I treated any one of my friends like that, our friendship would fail. It’s not too much of a stretch to think that God doesn’t take kindly to that either. He wants to speak into my life, to tell me about himself, about what he is doing, to give me guidance, to give me missions for others, to show me how he wants to use me. But he can’t (or at least it’s much more difficult) if I don’t listen. I like the way Solomon puts it:
“Talk is cheap, like daydreams and other useless activities. Fear God instead” (7).
So I will come into God’s presence, mouth shut and ears open. It’s time to listen.

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