It’s not unusual to see folks turn to God when times get difficult. It seems like it’s really easy to forget Him when times are going well, but the moment the world turns against us, God is our new best friend. You ever feel like this is your reaction to God? I have. I’ve looked back at particularly worry free portions of my life after I accepted Christ’s Lordship over my life and realized that throughout that time, I really didn’t give much thought to God. We all do it, but putting it in print (or reading it) can often be shocking. We’re not supposed to be like this. God is supposed to be in our every thought and the purpose of our every action. Yet we seem to forget about Him all too often.
One case where I’ve seen folks (myself included) forget about God or push Him as a lesser priority in their lives is after a trial. During the situation, God is all important. He’s the one that sees us through. He’s the one that provides joy and comfort. He’s the one that makes living bearable. But what happens after that trial is over? Where are we when things have smoothed over and we can breathe again? Often times we give God a temporary acknowledgment of thanks and we’re back to minimizing His importance in our lives. We shouldn’t, we know we shouldn’t, but if we’re absolutely truthful with ourselves and with Him, this is exactly how we start to think and act. Surely there’s a better way. And there is:
Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” – Genesis 8:20-22, ESV
Noah and his family had just disembarked from the ark and the first thing Noah did was build a physical altar and offer sacrifices to the God who had brought him through destruction. After we come through a trial, we should do something similar. We should pause and intentionally worship the Lord. Instead of shuttling Him to the side, we should instead actively make Him the center of focus, to pause everything to give Him worship and honor. We don’t have to build a physical altar, but certainly we should give Him center stage at the altar of our lives, our hearts. This goes beyond telling folks that our prayers have been answered or mentioning what God has done at the end of a Sunday service. This is an intentional act to set aside time and ourselves for the sole purpose of reflecting on what God has done, removing all distractions, and just getting alone with Him to say, “Thank you, Lord.” Our time is the sacrifice we bring, and it’s an important one, because it’s often what we don’t want to give God as we try to live our lives. I think if we were more intentional with looking for ways to acknowledge and honor Him, we’d push God to the side a whole lot less.
Is this enough? Admittedly, no. I intentionally chose this Scripture because of what happened next. Noah grows a vineyard and then proceeds to make wine and get drunk. Some time after He made the time to worship the Lord, Noah got off track. That’s a stern warning to the rest of us that despite moments on the mountaintop when we get the worship of God right, if we’re not careful we’ll find ourselves in the valley where we’ve forgotten about God or shoved Him to the side. We want to to do what we want to do and we don’t want Him in the midst of it. This, of course, doesn’t work, because God is always with us and we hide nothing from Him. Yet we lie to ourselves and pretend that it works until guilt from the sin breaks us and compels us to come forward in repentance. So simply taking the time to worship God after a trial isn’t the whole answer. But it’s a start to living our lives where God is all important, where He is our greatest thought, and where He is the cause for our greatest and noblest actions.