Monday, July 19, 2010

How Long Is Your Spiritual Attention Span?

My son came to me the other day and said with a slight whine in his voice, "Dad, can you make church not so long tonight?"

"Why?" I asked.  

"Because I always want to fall asleep!" was his honest reply.  

I answered, "Well, son, the people who come to church come to hear a message from the Bible, so I cannot promise that church will not be long."  Of course, "long" is a relative word anyway.  Our service lasts from 6:00 to 7:30 on Thursday nights.  Shorter than a movie or a ball game, but nonetheless to a 4 year-old, it's long!

About an hour later, he came to me and said, "Did you decide yet, dad?"

"Decide what?"

"If you could make church not so long tonight."

"Well, I already answered you, son."


But apparently he heard what he wanted to hear and not what I said.  Later in the day he told his sisters, "Daddy is going to make church not be so long tonight."  One of the girls said to me, "Is that true, daddy?"

"Is what true?"

"Stephen said you're going to make church shorter tonight."

"No, that's not what I told him."
Apparently he had a serious case of "wishful thinking".  Now, I must stick up for my son lest someone think he is a little heathen.  He's a very good boy.  He loves all the people at church.  But sometimes he gets really bored with the church service itself.  It's hard enough for any 4 year-old to stay interested in church, much less when the services are conducted entirely in a language that is not his own.  So, I'm not too worried about the fact that he would rather be outside playing than sitting in church.

But what I do worry about is adults and teen Christians who have the same attitude as my 4 year-old son.    You know the kind.  I'm talking about those who drift in and out of sleep, gaze longingly out the window, count the  number of light bulbs in the church, and draw in the songbook.  I'm talking about the ones who have to leave the service 9 times to talk on their cellphone.  I'm talking about the ones who act like church is a religious duty which one must endure instead of a precious time of worshipping the God who loves them.  Psalm 122:1 says, "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD."

In addition to being bored with the house of God, many Christians are also bored with the Word of God.  I wonder how many times we as Christians approach our Bible reading time with indifference, apathy, and a desire to "keep it short".  Or if we do not necessarily desire to keep it short, there is still oftentimes the lack of ability to focus.  Sometimes the smallest of interruptions can get us so off track!  We should not read our Bibles like a bored 4 year-old.  Psalm 19:10 says that the Word of God is more desirable than much fine gold, and it is sweeter than honey!  The Word of God is valuable beyond measure and has a sweetness that is without equal!  We should read and study it as if we actually believed that.

Not only do we sometimes get bored with the house of God and the Word of God, but sometimes we get bored with the blessings of God.  When God's grace and lovingkindness and His undeserved blessings become "ho-hum" to us, that is a dangerous place to be.  Psalm 126:3 tells us the kind of spirit we should have when we consider God's blessings.  "The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad."  Psalm 103:2 says, "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:"  Then the Psalmist proceeds to itemize those benefits in the subsequent verses.  I want to challenge you to read through Psalm 103 and then write down every single "benefit" that God has provided for you.  It is stunning when you really stop to think about it.  I don't ever want to get over the manifold blessings of our gracious God.

I trust this thought will be a challenge to someone to stay excited about the house of God, to stay focused upon the Word of God, and to continually stand in awe of the blessings of God.  After all, we're not 4 years old anymore.


  1. Thanks for the great challenge! Such awesome truths and a tremendous lesson.
    Ps.... The pictures of Stephen are SO CUTE.

  2. Hey . . . I think I've had the conversation, too! (Of course, Timothy doesn't have the excuse of a foreign language.) I took it as a positive sign after my sermon last night that Timothy said that it didn't seem long last night - even though it was just as long as normal.

  3. ouch that is so true

  4. Actually my wife said the same thing last week.

    Just kidding, Good post