The ‘shuff, shuff, scritch’ of my sneakers against the damp leaves interrupts the sound of quiet on this woodsy walk. A flicker’s cry breaks in high above while I step over the dank patterned tree life at my feet.
The path before me is almost entirely covered in debris revealing just the smallest glimmers of emerald grass. The wind has loosened the grip of the branches holding their captives at arm’s length, fluttering the ground with so much spent life.
I think of the overabundance of it all. How the colors crowd and the wind rushes and the leaves fly and this is a full-some walk in this outdoor temple, gateway of wonder.
God is here.
But it is crowded with debris. And somewhat noisy. And there is just too much.
Too much to take in.
Too much to manage.
A rake wouldn’t make a dent in it. Maybe a leaf blower could clear a path….
Scuffling across the crunching carpet, the pastor’s message from this morning come to mind about Jesus’ clearing out the temple.
John doesn’t mince any words in Chapter 2–Jesus was tossing tables, raising his voice, chasing the animals away and saying, “Enough!”
This recording of Jesus’ anger over the condition of the temple makes a good point. His Father’s house was to be a place to commune with God and to commune with one another.
A place to sense God’s presence, to hear his voice, to fellowship with others who were on The Way and worshipping the same Heavenly Father.
That’s what the temple was for.
But now it was a crowded, noisy, dirty place where no one could find God.
What they had instead were people selling promises, exchanging money for penance, assuring people they could pave the way, make it a little easier to garner God’s presence.
But, the pastor went on, they were NOT revealing the heart of God.
So Jesus came and cleaned it out.
As I continued my walk I reflected on the fact that Jesus lives in me–I am his temple. I Corinthians Chapter 6 makes that clear. And God wants to be the only one there.
He wants me to sense His presence, to commune with Him, to hear His voice.
And this day I’m aware my temple is too noisy and too crowded.
Noisy with other people’s voices. My own voice with it’s ‘you shoulds’ and ‘why haven’t yous?’
Crowded with books–books of all kinds–well-written, well-meaning and meaty–but they are not The Book. The only book that will bring me life.
Crowded with my lists and pieces of paper and notes to myself and my ‘to do’s’ that leave out little time for others. The people for whom Jesus died.
With whom He wants me to converse and fellowship.
And where is that sweet-smelling fragrance that wafted through God’s temple? The incense of prayers lifted to the Father? Are my words rising in a precious, pleasant way to His throne or lying on the floor at my feet because they’ve brought no life and fallen on deaf ears?
Then the Holy Spirit gently reminds me of the song he put on my heart yesterday, out of the blue from so many years ago. The one by Keith Green, and I see now why God dropped that into my heart–to confirm his word that was on its way to me.
Separate me from this world, Lord;
Sanctify my life for you.
Daily change me to your image,
Help me bear good fruit.
Ev’ry day you’re drawing closer;
Trials come to test my faith.
But when all is said and done, Lord,
You know it’s been worth the wait.
Rushing wind, blow through this temple,
Blowing out the dust within;
Come and breathe your breath upon me,
For I’ve been born again.
Jesus, you are welcome in this temple.
Blow me away.