Saturday, May 3, 2008

It's His Honor on the Line

I woke up this morning and read Psalm 145. The fifth verse gave me enough to stand on for quite some time and it is now etched into my heart. "I will focus on your honor and majestic splendor and your amazing deeds!" If ever there were a nugget, a good solid meaty piece of God's Word in simple terms, this is it. This one is like a "to go" kind of a passage that can be taken anywhere and applied to every single situation. Shifting our focus from whatever circumstances we face today onto the majestic splendor of God will literally change everything.Just driving can be overwhelming to me when I stop and consider the mountains that cradle the road on which I travel. God Almighty spoke some thousands of years ago and those mountains came to be. That's majestic splendor. Or nearer to home when I look into the eyes of my little five year old who is having yet another meltdown and I begin to unravel within as a mother, I can stop and focus. Just focus. Within that small frame of a boy God's majestic splendor is housed in the flesh. God willed this beautiful boy into being. And in that focus, I can proceed to exact some form of discipline for a little boy who needs to learn these same life lessons. Then there are the surrendered hands of my grandmother--who's life has been given to the slow motion death of Alzheimer's--I can still see the splendor of a God who allowed her life and has given three more generations since hers the chance to follow Him. And what about His amazing deeds? Sometimes the tiniest of deeds are the ones worth stopping over. My boys are at their auntie's house. My niece is here with me. She sleeps in. My boys don't. God, in His faithfulness gave me an extra half hour of time this morning to meditate on His Amazing deeds while my niece is quiet and my boys are waking their auntie instead of me. Even the opportunity to have a little bit of extra quiet time is an amazing deed accomplished by the hands of a loving God. Of course there are the greater ones too--the time God healed me after I almost died a few years ago from a surgery hemorrhage and infection. There was the time God sold our house in Ontario before we ever even put it on the market for the full asking price. There was the time God gently guided our car back from the mountain's edge when two friend's and I faced certain death heading over the mountain. You have them too--probably more dramatic than my simple list of amazing deeds. Yesterday at a mommy's group a dear woman of God mentioned that when David talks about God's rod and staff being a comfort to him, he is literally referring to something the Israelites did. They would record their family history and God's faithfulness on their staff. Then they would read it. Imagine a staff with a list of God's amazing deeds. I love the thought. Every single step they took, they gripped within their hands a list of the faithfulness of God in the history of their lives. Our lives are filled with the amazing deeds of God, but so often we fail not only to record them for our memory's sake, but tragically, we fail to notice them in the first place. And our staff's remain empty of the etchings of a faithful God. From this passage though, the part that has given me greatest pause is the phrase "I will focus on your honor..." Focus here can be translated as ponder or meditate, but I am rather fond of the simplicity of the word focus. That's one that I can relate to. Looking through the lens of my camera, I love the moment my camera zooms in and focuses on the object I'm photographing. For a few seconds everything is blurry--no one could make sense of the picture--but then with a simple zoom, everything is clear. It all comes into focus. When we take time to focus on God's honor, much becomes clear. Ephesians 2:10 says we are God's "workmanship created in Christ Jesus..." and that means that we are a direct reflection on the skills and abilities of our Creator. When I make a wedding cake people examine the details of the icing, the flowers, and then they taste it to decide whether or not they think I've done a good job. Looking at the finished product, they make conclusions about whether or not they could trust me with a special cake of their own. It's the same with God, when people look at our lives, they draw a conclusion about Him. And guess what? He knows that! When it comes to our lives, it is his reputation and honor on the line. We get wrapped up into thinking that somehow our lives are simply a reflection of our choices, but when we are a follower of God, they reflect far more than that. Like a billboard on the interstate they call out to people. What they say matters significantly to God. Not coincidentally, after I read this passage my pastor spoke about God's honor in church. After sixty-something years of exile, Daniel cried out to God on behalf of himself and his fellow Israelites. "So now, our God, accept the prayer and requests of your servant, and show favor to your devastated sanctuary for your own sake...O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, pay attention, and act! Don't delay, for your own sake, O my God! For your city and your people are called by your name." (Daniel 9:17b, 19) Daniel got it. When we cry out to God we need to do it from a focused vantage point. From the platform of God's honor we can stand before God and plead our case. When it is His integrity, His power, His ability, His reputation in question, the stakes are high. God Himself said "For you must not worship any other god, for the Lord whose name is Jealous , is a jealous God." (Ex. 34:14) He's not a God looking to share his glory and honor with some other. Look how Satan has chosen to attack God in our current culture. We live in a society that insists on tolerance of the idea that there are many ways and many gods...that God is perhaps not even a deity so much as simply the notion that there is good within all of us. Imagine how that grieves the heart of our God whose desire is that the world would know He loves them. Solomon too knew this well when he prayed, "May the Lord our God be constantly aware of these requests of mine I have presented to him, so that he might vindicate his servant and his people Israel as the need arises. Then all the nations of the earth will recognize that the Lord is the only genuine God." (I Kings 8:59, 60) The contents of our lives though trivial in light of eternity, matter. They matter more than we know. They matter to a God who's honor is at stake. They matter and He will act. So, stop. Focus. Zoom in on the honor of God and rest. Because in the shelter of your honorable heavenly Father is fullness of joy. He's aware of the situations we face and He's more than willing to work amidst them. The victory is ours when the battle is the Lord's. Remember, it's his honor on the line, not ours, and so he is guaranteed to act. He'll not let His name be put to shame, and we are the recipients of the protection that fact offers. Lord, teach us to trust you. Teach us to open up our hands and our hearts and release the things that cause us greatest concern. Teach us to quiet our souls before you. Teach us to focus on your honor. Amen. Read With Me: Isaiah 26: 8