1,000

My favorite subject in elementary and middle school was math. Numbers came naturally to me. I was in the special math ‘club’ and rarely got second place in the 50-problem  “Mad Minute” competitions. When 1 + 2 = 3 became a + b = c, I kept up, but after having an auctioneer for a geometry teacher (no joke!) and the introduction of equations that included words, math lost me 😮

You don’t have to be a math genius to know that 1 is a little and 1000 is a lot. 1 is 1 and 1000 is 1000 of those ones. 1 multiplies 1,000 times to get 1,000. 1,000 is 999 more 1’s than 1. 1 is a little and 1,000 is a lot more than that little.

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How lovely is your dwelling place,
  Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
  for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
  for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
  and the swallow a nest for herself,
  where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
  Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
    they are ever praising you.  

Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;      (Psalm 84:1-4, 10)

I am one person. I often wish I were more than one person because of the 1,000 things that are pulling for my attention. It feels like there are 1,000 things I could be doing at any given moment, but I can only do one of them. There’s work and writing and laundry and errands and scheduling and friends and keeping up with social media and texting people back and email and paperwork and bills and sleep and running and time with my kids – and oh yeah, I have a husband, too. Even at my multi-tasking best, I might be able to pull off two or three – but then none of them well. 

All of these 1,000 things are loud because if I don’t give my attention to them, there will be fairly immediate consequences. 

But one other thing has a much quieter voice. This voice doesn’t yell, demand, whine, or threaten. But this one thing may be more important – or in fact “better” – than all of those thousand yelling, demanding, whining, threatening things.

Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;

In ancient Israel, the people met with God by physically entering the temple courts. They had no choice but to take the time to go there – sacrificing any work or gain they could have otherwise accrued during those hours. Once they entered, worship was the only thing they could ‘do’. There were no smartphones connecting them to what they left behind or buzzing to remind them of what they were missing out on.

In our post-Jesus world, traveling to God’s presence is no longer necessary. As a believer, the Spirit of God resides wherever I’m at and any 1 of the 1,000 minutes I’m awake each day can be a minute of worship. 

But spending time with God is exactly that – spending. Even though I don’t have to physically go somewhere, it’s still expensive. It costs productivity. It costs time with my kids and husband. It costs perfection in my work. Sometimes it costs sleep and entertainment and a clean house.

While [Jesus] was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.  (Mark 14:3-5)

Every minute I spend in God’s word, prayer, or worship feels like that perfume: wasted. “This time could have been used for something more profitable!” yell the voices of urgency and efficiency, “Why would you choose 1 when you could have chosen 1,000? Why would you waste what could have been 1,000 on 1?” 

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.”  (Mark 14:6) 

Every minute you give to worship will cost you. On top of that, the minutes you invest will likely not return immediate tangible profit. And on top of that, there will always be 1,000 more-immediately-profitable “elsewheres”.

When you deposit money in an investment account, it can feel wasted – there are so many other things you could be spending it on! But interview someone who was able to retire comfortably and early, and you’ll hear them say that every dollar they invested was worth it. 

It may be costly, but it’s never wasted. In a world obsessed with tangible gain and instant gratification, there are 1,000 “better” things I could be doing at any moment. 1,000 goals I could be accomplishing. 1,000 tasks I could be completing. 1,000 good feelings I could be experiencing. But the numbers add up: Every one minute I invest in my relationship with Jesus now has a 1,000% return!

Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;

 

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