On this Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent, I continue my journey through Scott Hahn’s book, Lenten Reflections from A Father Who Keeps His Promises.
King David looked at all the blessings surrounding him—his beautiful home—and then looked at the tent housing the Ark of the Covenant. So he decided to build a home for God.
Why did David want to build a home for God? I can’t hazard a guess. But in looking at how churches—and religious practices—are viewed today, and knowing my heart, I can tell you what my motive might be: by building a home for God, we can put Him “in His place.”
There are a lot of beautiful churches built to honor—and house—God. But for many practicing faithful, including myself, there is a danger that we will limit God’s influence in our lives to the boundaries of the church property. Singing His praise is all well and good—at church. It doesn’t belong at home or in a stadium! Or so the attitude goes.
And as we compartmentalize our lives spatially, we likewise begin to block off periods of time for God: an hour at Mass on Sundays, a few minutes of prayer at night or/and in the morning, maybe a quick grace before a meal. But pray regularly—continually—throughout the day?! That’s for religious nuts!
And, as social animals, this tendency to sequester our faith spreads to our interaction with others. It’s fine to believe in God and accept the Nicene Creed, but don’t let that belief onto my lips in gentle conversation! Hide that Rosary so no one knows you’re praying!
And finally, this quarantine of faith bleeds into the public arena: separation of church and state, to some, requires any public figure to only utilize logic divorced of faith for any decision or action.
“Can you support your vote without reference to your faith system?”
And it begins, perhaps, with the desire to give God a good home in a beautiful structure instead of inviting Him into our hearts.
So when David sought to give God a home, God reminded David:
Is it you who would build me a house to dwell in? I have never dwelt in a house from the day I brought Israel up from Egypt to this day, but I have been going about in a tent or a tabernacle. As long as I have wandered about among the Israelites, did I ever say a word to any of the judges whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel: Why have you not built me a house of cedar? 2 Samuel 7:5-7.
David wanted to honor God in his way. But despite David’s best intentions, God said, “no thanks. But I will build you a house, a dynasty.” In response, David sings to God in praise and thanksgiving.
In the same way, I need to look deeply into my motives: when I seem to be acting to honor God, am I really seeking to limit Him and His influence on my life? God wants me to absorb myself in Him, to surrender completely to His will. Rather than building a dwelling place for the Lord, I need to learn to live completely in His will. And then I will find rest.
I can be my own worst enemy when I try to do things my way. As Fr. Larry Richards likes to point out, the national anthem for Hell is, “I Did It My Way.”