What if we planned to be amazed?

COntrary to one of my favorite assumptions, wonder does not have to spontaneous, awe need not only be merely an unplanned moment in our lives. Instead, these things ought to fill our lives and characterize who we are.

Considering the truth that we get to partake of daily, we ought to be amazed by grace and its Giver on good days and bad days. We ought to be well-versed in praise that is the overflow of a full heart. We ought to gorge ourselves on realities that we should not have had the privilege of enjoying apart from God’s initiation.

Don’t Judge A Good Purpose By Its Ugly Cover

Do you feel torn down by your troubles? Uncertain of what kind of good purpose God could have in what you’re going through? Consider these verses from Psalm 102:

God, listen! Listen to my prayer, listen to the pain in my cries.
Don’t turn your back on me
just when I need you so desperately.
Pay attention! This is a cry for help!
And hurry—this can’t wait!

I’m wasting away to nothing,
I’m burning up with fever.
I’m a ghost of my former self,
half-consumed already by terminal illness.
My jaws ache from gritting my teeth;
I’m nothing but skin and bones.
I’m like a buzzard in the desert,
a crow perched on the rubble.
Insomniac, I twitter away,
mournful as a sparrow in the gutter.
All day long my enemies taunt me,
while others just curse.
They bring in meals—casseroles of ashes!
I draw drink from a barrel of my tears.
And all because of your furious anger;
you swept me up and threw me out.
There’s nothing left of me—
a withered weed, swept clean from the path.

Yet you, God, are sovereign still,
always and ever sovereign.
You’ll get up from your throne and help Zion—
it’s time for compassionate help.
Oh, how your servants love this city’s rubble
and weep with compassion over its dust!
The godless nations will sit up and take notice
—see your glory, worship your name—
When God rebuilds Zion,
when he shows up in all his glory,
When he attends to the prayer of the wretched.
He won’t dismiss their prayer.

Write this down for the next generation
so people not yet born will praise God:
“God looked out from his high holy place;
from heaven he surveyed the earth.
He listened to the groans of the doomed,
he opened the doors of their death cells.”
Write it so the story can be told in Zion,
so God’s praise will be sung in Jerusalem’s streets
And wherever people gather together
along with their rulers to worship him.

God sovereignly brought me to my knees,
he cut me down in my prime.
“Oh, don’t,” I prayed, “please don’t let me die.
You have more years than you know what to do with!
You laid earth’s foundations a long time ago,
and handcrafted the very heavens;
You’ll still be around when they’re long gone,
threadbare and discarded like an old suit of clothes.
You’ll throw them away like a worn-out coat,
but year after year you’re as good as new.
Your servants’ children will have a good place to live
and their children will be at home with you.”

Maybe God has more spiritual goals then we can consider. Maybe He loves us enough to change us from the inside out, even if He has to bleed us dry. He can not be dismissed because we don’t at first understand what He does with us. Why would He empty us, but that He meant to fill us with more than what we had before?

Maybe He desires praise that is not merely a theme among themes in our hearts, but is so strong that it must subordinate everything else that lies within us. Maybe God is more than we thought. Maybe knowing Him is more self-requiring than we could ever know until we have fully died. Maybe He knows that what we will know then is all that we should ever want as people who belong with Him. Maybe believing all of this is enough for right now — even with these lesser things, these troubles that are also true in this moment of our lives.

You draw praise out of me in every situation

I’m thanking you, God, from a full heart, I’m writing the book on your wonders.
I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy;
I’m singing your song, High God.

The day my enemies turned tail and ran,
they stumbled on you and fell on their faces.
You took over and set everything right;
when I needed you, you were there, taking charge.

You blow the whistle on godless nations;
you throw dirty players out of the game,
wipe their names right off the roster.
Enemies disappear from the sidelines,
their reputation trashed,
their names erased from the halls of fame.

God holds the high center,
he sees and sets the world’s mess right.
He decides what is right for us earthlings,
gives people their just deserts.

God’s a safe-house for the battered,
a sanctuary during bad times.
The moment you arrive, you relax;
you’re never sorry you knocked.
Sing your songs to Zion-dwelling God,
tell his stories to everyone you meet:
How he tracks down killers
yet keeps his eye on us,
registers every whimper and moan.

Be kind to me, God;
I’ve been kicked around long enough.
Once you’ve pulled me back
from the gates of death,
I’ll write the book on Hallelujahs;
on the corner of Main and First
I’ll hold a street meeting;
I’ll be the song leader; we’ll fill the air
with salvation songs.

They’re trapped, those godless countries,
in the very snares they set,
Their feet all tangled
in the net they spread.
They have no excuse;
the way God works is well-known.
The cunning machinery made by the wicked
has maimed their own hands.

The wicked bought a one-way
ticket to hell.
No longer will the poor be nameless—
no more humiliation for the humble.
Up, God! Aren’t you fed up with their empty strutting?
Expose these grand pretensions!
Shake them up, God!
Show them how silly they look.
Psalm 9

Perfect, Please!

I think there is a difference between existing while we put on a show, and living every day as a willing participant of God’ production. God is not so much about how things look, as how things are.

I lived so much of my life concerned with nothing other than making a good impression with everyone (including God) and rejoicing in my own ability to avoid correction or critique. I worked double-time just to negate any reason anyone might have for making anything but a positive judgment about me. Being liked and feeling that I was perfect were my highest priorities.

The term legalistic was something that haunted me. Acknowledging that one word, and all it’s meaning, forced me to call into question all my hidden motivations and desires for holding onto personal perfection. I touted who I was as my saving-grace, and wondered why I was so unable to accept God’s grace.

Truthfully, I didn’t want grace — I wanted recognition and reward for who I was and what benefit I could bring to others on my own. But, the truth that I could not recognize then, and am still in the middle of struggling with now, is that grace is a gift from God that I don’t deserve. It came to release me from the bondage of living for myself, dependent on myself. I can’t live that way; it is an exercise in futility. The only reward I can count on from it is condemnation.

Yes, it’s scary when Christ turns me around to His perspective. I see that all the “righteous” acts that I have done, have not been for anyone’s glory but mine. I have not wanted to be righteous for the sake of being righteous — as I thought — but so that I could have no trouble being perceived righteous. Perfection was a goal not because I loved God and wanted to be like Him, but because I loved men and their praise more than the praise of God. God could think whatever He wanted, as far as I was concerned, but my world would be shattered if the people around me found a problem with me.

So, the whole idea was really a sinly-scheme. I did not love God for His willingness to deal with who I am on the inside, I was merely interested in keeping up my facade, and using His laws to get me there. I thought.

But, isn’t rightness and a fault-less appearance the result of what is on the inside shining forth? The only way we may obtain righteousness in God’s sight is by receiving the righteousness of Christ, who died the death our sin’s required, that we might be accepted by God.