Are You Out of Plumb?
Greetings Narrow Gate,
I pray you all are well. I really am missing our getting together for worship. I know from many of your comments that you are too. I wish I had an answer for when we will be able to meet again for worship. As for now there is no set date. As we wait together, let me encourage each of you, go back to the basics. Focus on maintaining and enhancing your relationship with God.
I know many of you are either planning or even on your vacation right now. These last few months have been so different from what any of us have ever experienced, it's hard to describe. I think we are all a little tired, bored, stir crazy, impatient, worried, afraid, distrustful, etc. If ever there was a time for people to lean on the Lord, now is that time.
We are overwhelmed with all of these different emotions. The weekly visit to church that would normally recharge our batteries is not available to us. We have online church. But sadly, online church is about as effective as online school. Which is to say neither are effective. No matter what we are told by church bureaucrats or others pushing online church, it's like drinking water out of a thimble. We are all still thirsty. This is nothing against all the fine preachers and worship leaders who are working so hard to fill the gap. There is nothing that replaces the community worship service. There is nothing like going to church.
Until we can meet again, we will all be thirsty. But, if we can't quench our thirst corporately, maybe we can somewhat slake our thirst if we take some responsibility as individuals. You know, go back to the basics. Pray and study our Bibles every day. Instead of reading that novel for enjoyment, read the Bible for enjoyment. There are certain sections of the Bible that read like the script from The Game of Thrones.
The scripture that I want us to look at is from the prophet Amos. Let me give you a little background. Amos is prophesying during the time of the divided kingdoms of Judah and Israel, around 750 BC. Both kingdoms were enjoying great prosperity and had reached new levels of political and military power. It was also a time of idolatry, opulent and luxurious living, immorality, corruption of the judiciary and oppression of the poor (sound familiar?). The more success, the more the people seemed to lose sight of the Lord. Amos 7:7-8, Amos here is prophesying,
God is the builder. He had built his people of Israel and Judah into great kingdoms. With all of their success and affluence, the Jewish people, spiritually and morally were now out of plumb. God had built his people to a high standard, God's standard. God's own people were now out of line with that standard. They were falling short of what he desired for them. They were out of plumb.
This is my question for each of us today. Are we out of plumb with God? Let's face it, things are so very different from what they were several months ago. Our daily routines, relationships, patterns for living, priorities and focus are all different. In this upheaval of our daily lives, have we lessened our commitment to God? Because of our discouragement with all of the change, have we cut corners in maintaining our relationship with God? Some of us may even be angry with God or feeling that God has forsaken us.
Only you can answer that question for yourself. I encourage each of you to check your plumb line with the Lord. If you find that you are indeed out of plumb, fix it. This isn't a time to take a guilt trip. God understands what we're going through, each of us as individuals, and as a society. Our answers will all be different because our individual circumstances are all so different. God knows and understands our individual situations.
We get back in plumb by going back to the basics. Prayer time where we converse with God. Quiet time where we listen for and to God (always my weak spot). Intercession, where we pray for others and a world out of control.
Study, take a small portion of scripture, just a verse or short passage, and dig deep. Meditate on it, ask the Holy Spirit to help. Figure out the historical context, and then see if you can apply it to your life today.
Read the Bible for enjoyment. You won't find this on any lists by authors and scholars, but I am a firm believer in just reading your Bible for enjoyment. If you get bogged down on a section, like the building of the Tabernacle, skip over it. Shhhh, no one will know, except you and the Lord. Have fun reading the Bible, use a pen or highlighter and make notes or record questions you'd like to find the answers to.
In the past, when we were down, having a bad week, we could just go to church and get a little of that wind beneath our wings, just that spiritual oomph we needed. Obviously, we can't do that now. It's up to us, as individuals, to take on the responsibility of staying in plumb with Jesus.
One last thing. I am not a mind reader. Meaning this, I don't know what struggles you are facing. If you need some guidance or just to dump your bucket, call me. No other pastors are mind readers either. They'd want you to call, especially now.
Have a great week and check that plumb line.
Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
and Harmony UMC