Why do people whisper in an art museum? Never could figure that out but suppose it has something to do with awe. Stand in front of a Rembrandt and somehow you don’t feel like talking. At least not out loud. And yet, in most church settings, as people come bopping in, laughing, calling to their friends, there seems to be no sense of awe. This is nothing new and it is understandable. You can see a Rembrandt and you can’t see God. It’s easy to forget where you are and what you are doing.
But God is here. Not just in church, but here, with us as we go through life. And when we pause, to talk things over with Him, here’s a reminder from Ecclesiastes:
Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth,
do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. (Ecclesiastes 5:1-2)
There’s a great scene in the movie, Papa, where a cub reporter, who idolizes Ernest Hemingway, and has sent him a fan letter, answers the phone and discovers it is his hero calling. Once he’s gone through the “Who is this really?” routine and knows it really is Hemingway on the phone, suddenly he can hardly form a single word, much less a sentence. That’s the idea here.
That is why I cringe when I hear someone say, “Well, I guess we better start with a quick word of prayer.” Or, “Ralph, would you say the blessing?” If we could open our eyes to see Jesus, Himself, seated in the meeting or at the table, such lines would seem insulting. Like, “Before we tell you what we think you should do, God, we’re just going to say a few religious sounding words to kind of set the right tone…”
If we are in our right minds, we fear God. This means treating Him with appropriate reverence, respect and a willingness to let Him call the shots. It means recognizing He is God and we are not, not even close. There is no more important setting for the fear of God than when we are about to address Him and listen.