Monday, January 21, 2008

Tom Brady in Church

"If a man throws three interceptions in a AFC championship playoff game, he shall take a goat without blemish..."

by Simon Chang

When you have a wife and a handful of kids (emphasizing on the word "handful"), often life (as directed by God) has pre-determined missions for you to complete, whether or not you think you are ready and willing to accept. At any rate, I did not get to sit down and blog until now (11:30 PM). One thing that I did attempt to do today as part of the experiment was to prioritize church over the football game. I am a pretty big sports fan, and today's game featuring the Pats and the Chargers would have been really exciting for me to watch. I even contemplated going to this morning's service just so that I can head over to my friend Dan's place to watch the game (Lori and I decided not to have a TV at home, because most of the time the shows are truly not worth missing). In my mind I can very well rationalize it and say, "See, I did my church duty today. Now I can go see the Pats beat the stuffing out of the Chargers." But Lori pointed out that, if we go to the morning service, Caleb's naps will be significantly disrupted, and there is a possibility that he may fall asleep in the car where he will get less-than-ideal amount and quality of sleep. Since he has been having a lot of sleep issues this past week due to teething (cutting at least three teeth SIMULTANEOUSLY), and since this is a long weekend for me, this would be a great chance for him to have a normal schedule and get as much sleep as he could while I am around to help. I also thought about my unspoken motivation that church is simply something to get over with, a necessary nuisance to put up with so man can worship the work of his own hands. Even if I did not formulate these thoughts explicitly, the temptation was there to rationalize the appearance of piety without substance.

So I made the decision for us to not only go at our regular worship time, but also not to catch the game on the radio, chat, or even think about the game during the service. It was, for all intents and purposes, going to be a special, holy place in my mind's temple for the LORD this afternoon.

As it turned out, it was a very good worship service because I realized that Walter was speaking on the very thing that was my goal during the Leviticus Project: To see God's holiness and His mercy at work simultaneously. It was special to me because, as I had shared with my fellow Levites during the last group dinner together, I have been acutely uncomfortable with the thought of God's eyes peeking intently into my life, my heart, my body, my thoughts, my speech, and my substance around the clock. Leviticus has been a brilliant and terrible mirror that I am forced to stand naked before and watch as my imperfections and twistedness are exposed in all their ugliness. I feel very much like the early disciples who begged Jesus to go away because they couldn't stand His holiness any more. Or, perhaps I played the part of the villagers who saw the swines jumping off the cliff and implored Jesus to leave them. But more than a few times He comforted them by saying, "Don't be afraid." Maybe that's what mercy is about, the white robe of righteousness being put on because the sinner realizes he has nowhere to run and hide. The Sunday Night Band led a song tonight that had the lyrics "Whatever you want from me... I will follow you". It was really difficult to sing the song in good conscience and not have another area of me exposed and reckoned with. It was all very overwhelming for me.

I finally did catch the game after the service on the way home, and I have to say that during the service I still heard a few radio play-by-play in my head ("Second down and eight, Brady out of a shotgun with an empty backfield, Moss on the nearside and Welker in the slot..."). It was easier to brush them aside and focus on the message, though, and I was aware of the fact that the outcome of the game meant absolutely nothing to me in the face of Walter's message. And I was at peace. And it was good.

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