The Piedmont Interstate Fair! As a child, I waited eagerly for the one week in October that the fair came into the Spartanburg area. Our family would drive by the fairgrounds a week before the event to watch the workers buzz around like bees doing what needed to be done. Sawdust put down to make paths through the grand stand. Tents erected to house the animals and other exhibits. All of this was incredibly exciting for a small child.
The neon lights, the crowds, and the energy of the fair became an icon for me; directing me to how I viewed the kingdom of God. All was beautiful and wonderful. I really believed that life could not get any better than this tri-county fair.
Unfortunately, the glitz lost its luster as the years passed by. No longer did the fair have its power over me as I began to see dirtiness instead of delight and shadiness instead of glory. When I reached adulthood I searched for other places to encounter the “holiness” this fair once offered me.
It feels like to me that all of us look for God in our lives in the midst of the glitz. We think that God will be more prevalent in the bright lights, amazing fireworks, and other attractions. Quite often we explore other avenues in our world trying to fill a void in our very souls hungering for meaning, purpose and fun – believing somehow God is there.
We even associate the Church and its worship in the same manner; needing to be entertained and connecting this entertainment with God’s love and Kingdom.
However, our Lord is not always present in the grandiose and alluring occasions that our world tries to provide.
“…but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.” (I Kings 19:11-13)
The story of Elijah running away from Jezebel reminds us that as we try to fill those hard places in our lives and look for God in the grandiose of the world, God may not be there. Instead, God may be in the sheer silences of our hearts. The true purpose of worship is not to compete with the neon lights and energies we think we need. Instead, worship provides the means to embrace the holiness God avails to all of us.
I love fairs. However, I find intimacy and connection with the One who creates us in the sheer silence.