It is a phenomenon that we have all experienced at one time or another. We are reading a book and suddenly realize we have no idea what we have been reading for the last several pages, so we go back and re-read them. We have been driving along and come to the realization that the last few miles are nothing but a blur. Or, someone has been talking to us and we have heard the words but our mind has not been registering any of the content.
During each of those episodes we have been there physically, but somehow absent mentally. We checked-out along the way and merely went through the motions. Almost an out-of-body experience. Except we were simply out-of-our-mind. We had slipped away mentally, consciously.
In Isaiah, the LORD accuses the people of Israel of doing something similar. Except here, they were very much present mentally, but absent emotionally, or with their heart.
“These people draw near with their mouths and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their worship of me is a human commandment learned by rote.” (29:13)
They had become so accustomed to going through the motions that they failed to realize that their heart was no longer involved in their worship. They were saying the prayers, making the sacrifices, giving the alms, but they had checked out emotionally a long time ago. They were void of devotion. They could “read” the Torah, but the impact on their heart was nothingness. They were wooden puppets on some priestly string, perpetrating the “perfect crime” of some form of worship.
But their hearts! What about their hearts…..what about my heart?
Is my worship done with my heart or with my head? Am I coming into God’s presence with my heart “in my hand” or my time-clock punched and ready to get in, get on with it, get out and say, “Well done you self-righteous subservient servant of the Lord.”
How about my personal devotion time. That is even more intense for me, because it is private. No one knows except God and I what goes on there. Talk about susceptible to routine and heartless repetition. Does, “I need to get this done. I have so much to do today” sound familiar to anyone?
Father Spirit, could it be that I just go through the motions? Get up, read, pray and go to work. Get up, read, pray, and go to work. Without giving thought to my heart…without giving thought to You? Those times when my heart is absent from my “devotion” must be insulting to You and I confess them. My heart is what you desire. My heart is what I yield.
In Jesus Name.