That Which We Worship

“Pay attention to whatever it was you were doing when you last lost track of the time.”

Just this morning, I received another great blog post from Chris Spooner, an extremely-talented UK-based visual designer, one that was simply breathtaking. (And I don’t use that adjective very much, just FYI.) When I finally scanned through the contents of the post itself, I was really quite stunned at the fine quality of the work on display.

Clearly, some extremely talented people had poured hundreds of hours into developing some of the most compelling visual art you or I have ever seen. True, it was all digital work (as opposed to images rendered with a brush in oil or pastels), but I have done enough of my own online design work to “see” clearly the level of craftsmanship and attention to detail. You could also sense that the artists probably had a deep love for the subject matter; something must have kept them on task as they burned up so much of their free time.

Which was? Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Triptych by Jan Des Trompes, 1505

Triptych by Jan Des Trompes, 1505

Several years ago, I heard Rick Warren use the opening sentence about losing track of the time as a means of discovering one’s SHAPE. if you don’t already know this, Rick Warren just loves inventing acrostics for darn near everything, and the SHAPE acrostic is shorthand for discovering one’s Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experiences. His comment about “losing one’s self” in any activity was meant to highlight the idea that true, authentic worship can be found in many places outside the church building. We worship whenever we perform a menial task well, even if no one notices. We worship whenever we give our heart to something larger than ourselves. Creating painstaking visual depictions of that which has captured our imagination is yet another way we worship.

It was obvious to me that, in many ways, a form of worship was taking place in these striking homages to the new Star Wars film. No one can deny that the fictional universe of George Lucas has cemented a permanent place in the heart of worldwide culture…no mean feat. We have a nine-year-old boy at home, so our tickets to the Dec. 18th premiere were purchased (literally) weeks in advance. Back in 1977, I paid to see the original film in theaters no less than eight times. In short, “I get it.”

When my wife and I had six kids living under one roof, the opportunities to “lose myself” for hours on end were few and far between, i.e. they were nonexistent. Nowadays, we have but one child who remains in our care, and the demands on our time have stayed pretty steady, but nevertheless shifted in many ways. (We are no longer breaking up squabbles over who gets to ride shotgun, just as a random, non-specific example.) Without paying a whole lot of attention, it occurred to me that I had once again been given the liberty of losing myself in a favorite TV program, some light reading or even a household task such as folding laundry.

Triptych of Star Wars Fan Art

Triptych of Star Wars Fan Art

But it never fails, of course, that when my wife has to come looking for me, I “wake up” to find myself at the Lego table in our basement. Our son is typically busy creating epic scenes using the pieces we build together, with the soundtrack to (you guessed it) Star Wars blaring right next to us. In those moments of Epic Nerdery, I often find to my great chagrin that I have forgotten to tend to some other, secondary task, such as paying the bills or feeding our child. The realization hits that I have been “gone” somewhere, and I very much need to “come back.”

And yet, I still find it difficult to read my Bible or pray for more than five minutes at a time. My heart grows wild with a restfulness given over to God, and yet is content to remain perfectly at ease for hours on end fishing highly-coveted pieces of bright plastic out of the “SORT” bin used for large-project clean up. (Yes, yes, we even have bins, plus sorted drawers with typed labels, special tools for building…it’s all pretty intense.) Every now and then, it will register with me what a huge disparity there is between my interest in little pieces of plastic vs. taking time to speak with my Creator. Only after checking on the shape of my own soul do I permit myself to then look outward and see, really see, how much worship is going on all over the world that should rightly be given over to God.

Triptych of Lego by Warren Mayer, 2016

Triptych in Lego, 2016

For the time being, I recognize that we are all guilty of robbing God of the honor He alone deserves in our heart. Without condemning anyone else, I simply confess to my Maker and a few trusted friends that, yes, my heart is far more likely to engage in a conversation about the merits of the new Kylo Ren character than it is to focus on the scandalous gift of grace that has been given me through Christ. With other Christians across the ages, I simply look at the truth about who I am apart from Christ, lament the ways in which my latest Lego Tryptych says much about my desire for true worship and run to the forgiving arms of my Savior.

Lord, help us worship You, the Creator, and not the created. Amen. (Romans 1:25)

H.G. Wells, British author (1866-1946), when asked which person left the most permanent impression on history: “By this test, Jesus stands first. I am a historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history…No man can write a history of the human race without giving first and foremost place to [Him].”

Colossians 1:15-23 (ESV)
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

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