Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Destined for Greatness

"A lot of people are born into greatness, but being great is really a choice." The minister of worship made this statement recently during a Sunday School class and I've been chewing on it all week. Destined for greatness. What a phrase! Look at Moses, Abraham, Esther--all heroes of the faith--all destined for greatness. Yet in each of their lives, they were confronted with the life-changing, history-making, be great or be forgotten choice that ultimately allowed them to fulfill their destiny. Moses had to choose to confront Pharaoh, Abraham had to lay his son down before God on an alter of sacrifice and Esther went before her King at the risk of personal death. They chose to be great. Of course there are others--ones who's destiny was also one of greatness, but, their choices prevented the fullness of their destiny from materializing. Lot's wife opted to look back when greatness lay before her. Saul's legacy as the first King is overshadowed by his multiple attempts to kill David out of fear and jealousy. Even Moses was prevented from entering the very land he helped bring the Israelites upon proving one can be great and have been greater still. What really resonates with me is that generally it's not the big moments that bring us to greatness. Greatness is a series of stair step little decisions that bring us to the next level in our lives. Had Moses of maintained his faith in God instead of repeatedly questioning and doubting, He would have entered the promised land. Despite his overall obedience, in day to day living, he chose to doubt God's worth. Every single choice we make is determining who we become and too often we are so busy that we don't even realize the significance of the small choices we make. Now before you start to think I'm wanting to write motivational articles for a living let me tell you what I think. The idea that we are all destined for greatness can be somewhat misleading because of it's various connotations. It might be more clear to say we were all destined for worship. And a life lived in a steady state of worship will inevitably be characterized as a great one. I've always heard that our singular purpose on earth is to bring God glory and I have believed it. Lately though, I've been mulling over this idea and God has been helping me to flesh out the concept of worship being as natural as taking in air. Louie Giglio in his book The Air I Breathe writes "Worship is our response, both personal and corporate, to God--for who He is! and what He has done! expressed in and by the things we say and the way we live." It's a mouthful, I know, but powerful stuff. Since my memory is about as good as a plugged toilet I had to simplify Giglio's masterful definition into something a little less gourmet. Simply put, worship is acknowledging God's WORTH-SHIP. In every single area of my life, every conversation, every step of action, every choice, every thought I will either worship God or worship something else. But make no mistake, worship will take place. In that, I have no choice. We were made to prioritize. We will always put something on the thrown of our lives. Giglio opens his book with these words, "You, my friend...are a worshiper! There, I said it. Every day, all day long, everywhere you go, you worship. It's what you do. It's who you are." And in truth, that is the very crux of greatness. Who and what we worship will determine the measure of our greatness both in this life and more importantly in eternity. Let me offer some very practical scenarios to put a little flesh on the bones of this idea. Last Sunday morning before church a few things happened (isn't this always the case on Sundays) that left me more than a little frustrated. When my husband came into the room and offered an apology I had a choice--right then and there, before church ever began. Would I worship God or my anger? Is God worth more to me than my silly grudge? If so, then I've worshipped Him. If not, then I've still worshiped by exalting my own anger above my Heavenly Father. A couple months ago we had company and put on a movie. Not two minutes into the movie it was clear the content was completely inappropriate. I was ready to turn it off and normally we would have immediately, but we had company. What would they think? Would they be offended--think us holy-rolling, Bible-thumping, boring duds? Who did we worship? The opinion of our friends? Or would we acknowledge loud and clear that the very God who died to pay for those things portrayed in that movie is worth far more to us than the opinions of man? What about the food I eat? With every bite I put into my mouth, I worship. What about the music I listen to? With every note that rings, I worship. What about the words I speak? With every sound that takes flight off my lips, I worship. The thing is that as I make the conscious choice to worship God I become great. I don't mean great in a prideful sense. But God's will and plan for our lives is for our absolute best and when we choose daily in the little things to worship God, we take steps to greatness. Every single time I obey God's Word, I proclaim with greater volume than any worship chorus the worthiness of God. I lift Him up. I place God in the forefront of my life, my priorities. And in that place, there is protection and safety. When He receives my surrendered choices, God is free to work through me. He is free to renovate and restore my less than perfect life and He is glorified. This is true greatness. There is not more in this life that I could hope for. Paul already talked about all this in Romans 12:1. "Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices--this is your spiritual act of worship." Every time I choose to sacrifice my priorities, my desires, my plans for God's desire, I have worshipped. What God seems to continually be reminding me is that when I'm disobedient I'm no longer worshipping Him. Living a life of Godward worship is as simple as obeying what He has clearly shown me in His word. Don't hold grudges. Be patient. Be gentle. Be self-controlled. Forgive. Forgive again. And Again. Love. Love people. Love unlovable people. Of course these things can be summed up in passages like "Love the Lord you God with all your heart soul and strength and love your neighbor..." but that can be vague. I need to know that when I speak in anger to one of my children I have ceased to worship God. I need to know that while "Oh God you are my God, and I will ever praise you" sings its way through my car's stereo system and I honk my horn at the slow-poke in front me I have ceased to worship God. I need to know that when it's midnight and I'm not hungry but I eat anyway, I've ceased to worship God. Do you follow me? Worshipping God is constantly choosing over and over again in every little area of our lives to say God you and you alone are worth more to me than anything else. That simple. That simple. Paul goes on in the third verse of Romans 12 to say "For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment..." My life will tell the story of who I thought most highly of--God or me. The decisions I make daily will tell long before I ever speak a word myself. It's no wonder Jesus said in Luke whoever is least among you --he is the greatest. In Isaiah we read, "These people come near to me with their mouths and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." Every time I read those words my heart is pricked with the reality of its contents. How often is my heart so far from God though I would proudly proclaim to the world I am a worshipper? How often would the decisions of my day whisper like Peter the night he denied Christ, "I don't know the man." Perfection isn't what I'm talking about, but what I am saying is that a heart that is near God, a heart that loves Him will reveal itself daily without the mouth ever uttering a word. Paul said later on in chapter 12 of Romans "Love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good." True love cannot be a hypocrite. If I love God, the world will know it. And if I love God, I'll choose daily to worship Him. And if I choose daily to worship Him, then greatness is inevitable. Not the kind of greatness that brings me glory, but the kind of greatness that says, "I'm a worshipper. Everything I do is because of Him. Everything I do is enabled by Him. Every aspect of my love is sheltered by Him. Everything good that I've experienced has come through Him. God. God. God. It is He who I praise. He who I proclaim is worthy-- worthy of all of my trust, all of my affection. King of kings and Rock of the Ages. God is worthy." Before the instruments have been tuned, before the microphones have been turned on, before my lips have parted, may mine be a life that sings the tune of God's worthiness. There could be nothing greater. Nothing greater. Listen: Heart of Worship How Great is our God This is the Air I Breath

1 comment:

kev & cj said...

i think you should write a book Sarah. Your writing is so GOOD!! To God be the glory - He has really given you a gift and i'm glad you've started a blog to help us all in our Christian walk. wish i could visit with you in person!! love to you & Jeff & the boys~have a nice weekend!! :)