My family and I recently went on a road trip for vacation. Our plans concerning vacation changed at least three times. So finally, my husband and I decided to just head to our “Bucket-list” spots. Near the top of that list was Niagara Falls.
We started heading north Sunday after church. Along the way we stopped at some of Lake Erie’s beaches. The lake was so massive! It was beautiful! And the water was freezing! Well not literally, it was probably more like the temperature of a glass of ice water.
We could see for miles. We saw lighthouses, boats, and a lot of seagulls. It was fun to soak it in, skip rocks on the beach, and watch my kids stick their feet in the extremely cold waters.
Then we were off to (in my mind) the main event- Niagara Falls.
We arrived at Niagara Falls, New York and went to Niagara Falls State Park. It was nicely laid out. Off to the side we could see the mist of the falls, so we headed that way.
It was huge! And the waters were rushing so fast! As I stood by the waters I actually felt as if I were moving! It was quite impressive.
But something was just off.
There were so many people standing around. Many of them trying to snap a selfie with this natural beauty. It was hard to find a spot for my family of eight on the rail next to this massive beautiful waterfall.
For whatever reason, I didn’t really get to soak in the beauty. To the right I could see another waterfall, so the family and I headed that way.
This one we were able to admire, get pictures of, and watch a little bit more.
On the way out of the park we stopped at a trail that went behind the falls and saw the rushing river and some smaller waterfalls. Sadly, here is where I first said, “Wow, this is beautiful.”
Later my husband and I reflected on the visit.
At Lake Erie, we had the opportunity to just sit back and enjoy God’s beautiful handiwork. But at Niagara, we saw a lot of tourists. We saw a lot of man-made things around the falls. We saw a lot of ways for people to make money on the tourists. But we didn’t really get to just sit back and think, “Wow, God you did that.”
We were distracted. Distracted by the large crowds that barely left room for my family to stand on the rails next to the enormous waterfall. Distracted by the buildings. Distracted by the signs and paths pointing in other directions. Distracted by the options of things to purchase.
My goal was to soak in a natural wonder of the world, but I was distracted. Distracted by people who had the same agenda as me (other tourist). Distracted by people trying to help me enjoy the experience more (tourist attractions and such).
Distracted by people on a similar path. Distracted by things intended to help you… (or take your money.)
You know it’s not all that hard to become distracted. Distracted by the world. Distracted by people. Distracted by doing the right thing… distracted by church…
Hear me out- church is a good thing. Church, religion, and traditions are designed to help us grow in our walk. But sometimes we depend on them to be our “God-time.” Sometimes we make these things the main event. Sometimes we get caught up in the actions and forget who we are serving.
I think it’s easy to fall into this trap of being distracted by doing things for God and His kingdom.
We see this list of things we should do: go to church on Sunday, volunteer, donate, give, and be a good person.
Go to church on Sundays. I can do that.
Donate to that church food drive, mission support, clothing drive, or whatever else may come. Can and will do.
Volunteer at church. Hey, I can do that too!
But then we get comfortable… Comfortable serving in our spots. Comfortable singing certain songs during different seasons in the church. Comfortable doing just enough to get by.
Before we know it, we’ve lost sight of the natural beauty that’s part of being a member of the church.
So now on Sundays, you put on some nice clothes, smile, and do your part. Then we do our best throughout the week to be a good person.
But here’s a harsh reality- being a good person will not get you into Heaven. The only way into Heaven is through Jesus.
We have to commit to those not so easy things too…
So what’s not so easy?
Maintaining a relationship with Jesus. Regularly reading your Bible. Spending time in prayer. Seeking God’s will. And obeying that will. Personal growth- it takes time and effort.
Going to church, donating, volunteering, and the like are very good things. But they are meant to be from an overflow of your heart. Not the main event.
Sometimes, doing church stuff becomes a distraction rather than a natural beauty.
Sometimes serving and going to church seem more like an obligation than a joy.
I heard a pastor once say, “Church should be the dessert to the rest of your week, not the main course.”
When I first heard this six years ago, this was eye opening. I have seven days in a week. Seven days for personal reading, reflecting, prayer, and time with God. I go to church once a week. I should be getting solid food all week. Sunday should be the icing on the cake.
Let me ask you a hard question. Is church your dessert or main course? How is your relationship with God between Sundays?
If your answer is not one you want to admit, rest assured that’s ok. God still is persuing a realtionship with you! Start where you are. Ask the Holy Spirit to come along side of you and lead you.
But please, make the effort to get solid food all week long. Don’t let “being a good person” be distractions from the beauty in what God is doing all around you.
When you arrive at church on Sunday, your service, your donations, your worship, all of it, should be an overflow from your whole week.
Don’t allow yourself to be distracted from the main event- Jesus! Come and worship just as you are! Allow all your actions to be an overflow of your heart.
God, you are good! The whole earth is full of your majesty. The mountains and seas proclaim your goodness! Thank you for your goodness. Thank you for loving me, leading me, and teaching me. Lord, please forgive me for the times I allow myself to be distracted. Guard my heart. Protect my mind. Let everything I say and do point to you. Thank you for blessing me! Help me to never forget and avoid the traps of distraction. In Jesus name, I pray.
“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.”