“It is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13
Have you ever looked at your calendar and wondered anxiously, “How can I do all of this?” Needless to say, many people in our community experience this. They feel at times overwhelmed with the demands of the day, not only at work but also in other parts of their lives. I coach soccer every fall to help out at the Whitpain Recreation Association intra-mural program (and to keep an eye on my son Peter). They hold their games on Saturdays, and I appreciate that. But even that little bit of volunteering outside of church can be difficult. There are weddings on Saturdays in the fall. There is the North Wales Day of Service and the Oktoberfest. There may be a funeral, etc. How can I do all this? When I come to the field for game time on Saturday I notice that some of the kids were just brought in from another game in another sport on another field in another community. Others can’t even make it for the same reason. They were double booked. Such is life in the suburbs.
It would be a gross misunderstanding of this passage if we interpreted it to back up the frantic pace of the modern obsession with recreation. How is God at work in us and what are the works that are for his good pleasure? Certainly, engaging in sports is good, especially for growing children, and I am sure it is all for the good pleasure of the creator. But, as with everything good in life, there comes a point when too much of it turns the good into bad, in this case blocking kids’ access to their spiritual development, their understanding of scripture and the rituals of the church. Modern parents are inclined to think that God will give them the strength to do this and this and this and another thing on top of that. Of course, it doesn’t work that way and church often falls by the wayside. Adults often do not understand the concept of Sabbath and the need to contemplate and discern what is good and wholesome for themselves, their family and their children. Before they have had time to think about it, they have already become part of the suburban recreation machine.
In Elijah’s time, way back in the Old Testament, the prophet lamented repeatedly all the knees that bowed before Baal, the God of fertility. It was a minority of people who actually understood that God demanded of them a commitment and loyalty that would lead them to make difficult choices. Well, we are there again. Will people take the time to honor God, nourish their souls and live life with that spiritual compass? Or will they, like people in Elijah’s time try to please everyone and do a little bit of everything or else worship another god altogether? Luther said, “Your God is where your heart is. Where are the hearts of people these days? And have you set some time aside to think and pray about what is good and wholesome and “in God’s good pleasure?” Be sure that whatever comes out of your sincere discernment, God will give you the strength to do it!
Pastor Andreas Wagner