Aquidneck Island Worship

a community that worships in spirit and truth

A Devotion on Worship: Craving God’s Attention

By GM Plaster
Reprinted from Relevantmagazine.com July 16, 2003

(all scripture NIV, taken from www.biblegateway.com)

Being Seen
Growing up I always craved my father’s attention. Climbing trees, riding bikes, building things; all of these were done with the end goal of putting on a show for him. “Dad, Dad, watch this!” I’d say. He would reply, “Go ahead, I’m watching.” His affection and his approval meant the world to me and most often these were both communicated through the simple act of watching what I was doing. In the same way, I believe we all long for the attention of others because somehow we feel that in being seen we validate our worth. For, as any avid collector will tell you, things are only worth what people will pay for them. We long to stand on the world’s auction block and here the price rising as our value appreciates. But the loudest voice is God’s. He bought a solo show with His life. He truly appreciates our value.

The Psalms contain cry after cry for the attention of God. God responds with affirmation that He is near and His eyes are watching. It seems that many people, Christians included, do not feel God watching them as they struggle, sin or succeed. But the Bible communicates this truth clearly: God loves us and He sees us.

David writes to God, “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:15,16)

Throwing Temper Tantrums
When we were kids, we sometimes did some pretty strange things to get attention, being rude or messy, acting younger than our age. Our parents knew if we just wanted attention and they knew if it was more than that. I still throw the same temper tantrums for God sometimes, refusing to read the Bible or pray when I know He is right there ready to be with me. He sees me and yet I convince myself that he can’t, like some infant in a game of peek-a-boo. It’s my eyes that are closed, not His. But the good news is, He knows I’m just crying out for His attention and He’s eager to give it.

Feeling Naked
In the beginning God created everything and he saw that it was good. As the centerpiece to His creation, Adam and Eve enjoyed God’s intimate company, walking and talking with Him in the Garden of Eden. They were naked and unashamed. But in the moment they thought God wasn’t looking, they sinned against Him.

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid. And he said, “Who told you that you were naked?” (Genesis 3:8-11)

Suddenly God’s gaze was more painful than pleasurable. On one hand, they were created to be with Him. On the other hand, they suddenly felt naked and inadequate. His attention had become a double-edged sword.

After Cain killed his brother, God asked him, “Where is your brother Abel?” Cain replied that he didn’t know. God asked, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse. . . .” (Genesis 4:9-11)

Despite the fact that God seems far away at times, I can always feel the heat of His eyes on me when I sin intentionally. Like Cain, I am often tempted to cover my faults when His attention is on me. The light He shines in my darkness is penetrating and painful, but perhaps even harder than His discipline is the great mercy that He showers. Like an over-affectionate parent sending a young child off to camp, God lathers love that we refuse to accept. One too many hugs and “I love yous” leaves us jaded so that we end up complaining to the other kids about how He isn’t cool. However, a week away from home brings us to the naked truth that we miss that attention because there is so much love in it.

Famous
Reality TV is addictive to many of us because we know that the people on the screen are real men and women who are being watched by the world. Somehow this is exciting, even if the things they do aren’t that impressive. We relate to their humanity and are jealous for their fame. Why? Perhaps it is because we were born entertainers. Paul writes to the Hebrews, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2) Although quite warped and often misdirected, our desire for fame could very well be a longing to capture the attention of God. However, the kind of entertainment that He enjoys most is the kind that we often think no one will ever see.

But in the end, ” . . . the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:37-40)

As Shakespeare said, the world is a stage. Somehow we just need to stop playing to the populace and start entertaining angels. We’ve already got God’s attention, now on with the show.

Blessing
The Beatitudes are an affirmation by God himself that He sees us in our pain and struggle. He promises His favor to those who are faithful saying that they are blessed. With each blessing, God is pointing to an individual in the crowd and looking them in the eye, giving them His attention. He sees our pain and takes it as His own. An illuminating parallel to this is Jesus’ treatment of the children who came up to Him. The disciples would have sent them away, but Jesus insists that they draw near. He taught his disciples that to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, one must be like a child. I can remember taking road trips with my family, how my dad would drive at night as everyone would start to doze off. On occasion, I would switch seats with my mom and be up front with him, just to talk. It was so cool because it was just he and I. What really made it special was that I could always tell that he was as happy as I was to have time together. God is just the same but even more full of love for us. He wants to bless us with His healing touch, His affirming word, and His kind attention.

Worship: The Attention God Seeks from Us
The Westminster Catechism opens with this profound question: What is the chief end of man? The textbook answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.
Sounds like worship to me. If this is in fact the meaning of life, it seems that God must want us to return His attention with our own. He wants us to not just seek Him, but to find Him. He even promises us that He is within arms reach (Matthew 6:33). Worship is about showering God with our approval and affection, reflecting the favor He’s already shown us. Just as a father whose young daughter runs across the room to meet him after work shouting, daddy, daddy,” God eagerly anticipates our worship. Just as the parent who has sent a first child off to college waits by the phone, God desires our intimate communication; just a short call once in a while in return for so many years of loving attention.

GM Plaster is a former pastor of the Point loma Vineyard in San Diego, California. He currently lives in Newport, Rhode Island with his wife and three kids. If you would like to get in touch with him, you can email him here of request him as a friend on Facebook.com

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