After a day or two of playing with the “exciting toys” he received for Christmas a few years ago, Caleb picked up a toy truck, turned it upside-down and asked for batteries to go in. When told that the toy did not need batteries, he followed up with the question “Where’s the button?” Truly a child of the nineties where everything is automated, electrified or computer-driven! When told that there was no button, there was a brief, “oh”, and off to read a book.

Nothing is more exciting than watching a new toy - or car, or computer, or gadget - running through its paces: acting out steps which someone has programmed in but which are surprises to us. When their batteries run flat, we are quickly bored with them. We expect everything to have a little gimmick, a little bit “above the ordinary”.

How easy to follow a “battery-operated God”, one who is exciting to follow when things are happening, when prayers are being answered, when the words of scripture leap off the pages as though written fresh that morning with us in mind. But what when the batteries “seem to have run flat”? Do we leave God behind in search of something more exciting, or hang in there patiently to discover what he has to teach us in the “flat time”?

Sometimes it seems that we seek for a “battery-operated worship” which is full of energy and spark, as if the act of worship were meant to touch us, rather than be a response to God, and an offering of our lives to Him. The temptation is to turn worship into a distraction from the realities of life, with the end result that we are unchanged by it, and in the end returned to the same circumstances no more aware of the presence of God in those circumstances, or of His call to us in response to them.

Let’s remember that even the battery-operated things become passé after a while. The things that truly engage us are those which draw something deeper from us, which stretch us and challenge us, and ultimately transform reality. This is the God of Jesus Christ, whom we are called to worship and serve.

April 15, 2001
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