#114 "Would You Rather Be Anywhere Else?"
September 25, 2007
"Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere." (Psalm 84: 10 NIV)
When asked how much time he spent in prayer, George Muller's (Christian evangelist and coordinator of orphanages in Bristol, England) reply was, "Hours every day. But I live in the spirit of prayer. I pray as I walk and when I lie down and when I arise. And the answers are always coming." (Unknown Source)
I have to admit that my prayer life has been something like Mr. Muller's. And there's nothing wrong with that. We must live in a "spirit of prayer", all day...every day. I pray as I'm doing my housework. I pray while I'm showering and putting my makeup on. I pray as I'm carrying out the everyday responsibilities of my life. I suppose you could call me a praying person. And it's worked..."the answers are always coming". But lately I've felt that it is not enough and dare I say, it may even be unpleasing to God? Let me explain...
Suppose your spouse, or your child, or your best friend always talked to you while they were on the move. Suppose they never sat down and looked you in the eye. Yes, they're communicating with you...having conversation, but all the while they're doing something else. How would you feel? Wouldn't you just want to say, "Sit down a minute. Stop moving. Look at me!?" I tried to imagine how I would feel if Chuck did that to me. Consistently, every time we had a conversation. I wouldn't appreciate it very much and I sure wouldn't feel like he thought I was very important. Do you think that maybe God feels the same way?
Our Father in Heaven wants to know that we reverence Him. That He is important to us. Important enough to spend undivided, one on one time with Him in prayer and fellowship. I felt this in such a strong way this past weekend. I believe that by His Holy Spirit, Christ was calling me away. Away to a time of blessed communion with Him and Him alone. I responded to the call early. Before the traffic noise picked up and the stuff of life had a chance to interfere. I picked up my coffee and my Bible and headed outside to my patio as soon as it was light enough to see. I didn't take my study books or my laptop. I promised not to look for passages to preach on or material to write messages from. I needed to talk to Him and He had so many things to say to me. We had a sweet and sacred time together. So much so that I decided to skip church on Sunday and do it again. I was being selfish by not wanting to be with other believers but I just couldn't get enough of spending time with my Savior. Just me and Him. I wanted no one else to interfere or interrupt. It was so worth it!
Not coincidentally, I found myself in Psalm 84. The psalmist shares his intense longings, which are about to be satisfied. His whole being yearns for fellowship with God. He even envies the birds that live in the temple precincts. He sings that his soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord. His heart and his flesh cry out for the living God. He bursts forth the statement that one day in the courts of the Lord are better than a thousand anywhere else! He was yearning for time in the temple to pray to the Lord. To yearn for the temple meant to long for the living God Himself. In that day people could approach God through the temple priests. Today, in Christ, we don't have to go to the temple. We don't have to be represented by the temple priest. Today, "we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus...and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, [we can] draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith." (Hebrews 10: 19, 22) Hallelujah!!
I realized that there was no place on earth that I would rather be. And I know that my Abba Father felt the same way. He had my undivided attention. We laughed, we cried and He overwhelmed me with His love. He withheld no good thing from my tired heart. Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying, "I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day." Not only is there no place I'd rather be...there is nowhere else to go! Nowhere else that is worthwhile anyway. Nowhere else that will provide that sufficiency for the day.
Lest you think I'm trying to appear holy, let me tell you that I blew it this morning. I woke up and followed my mind rather than my heart. I let my day begin by entertaining all of the whirlings of my intellect about the day ahead. I could almost hear my Father saying, "What happened? I was hoping we could meet again this morning. I have more to tell you." I acknowledged what I had done and asked for forgiveness. And you know what? Because of God's unfailing forgiveness and faithfulness, tomorrow's another day!
I'll leave you with this quote from C.S. Lewis. "The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving it all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in." That other Voice is calling your name. Won't you drop all else and spend some precious time with Him? You will find that there truly is no place else you'd rather be! Better is one day in His courts than thousands elsewhere.