Monday, February 27, 2017

Guidance and Glory

My star word for this year is guidance.  This word has made me pay more attention to opportunities for receiving guidance.  Maybe that’s why there seem to be a plethora of people lately saying things to me that are the same as what I say in sermons and Bible studies and meetings.  At a workshop last week, the leader told us about her theological ‘three-legged stool” – 1) In all things give thanks, 2) God uses everything for good, and 3) God makes everything new.  Those three "legs" are in many of my sermons and yet I so needed to hear them said back to me that day.

I get to hear my own words said back to me on Facebook as well, in the “memories” feature.  I’m often amazed at the wisdom I’ve posted in the past and forgotten.  Today a song I posted seven years ago was among the memories.

Every Time I Breath / Big Daddy Weave

I remember the day I first heard that song on the radio.  I marveled at the passion for God in this song and wished I had that same depth of passion.  As I hear it today, it stirs up that depth of passion that I have along the way come to find in my own heart, and I’m thankful as I realize that my prayer was answered.  But I can also see that there has been pain involved in getting here, pain that has been instrumental in opening up my heart.

Hearing this song reminds me about another prayer that’s even older, from long before I knew I would become a pastor, when I had only begun to know God in a more personal way, and I told God I would do whatever he needed me to do, as long as I could keep following and pleasing him.  That was also when I first began to want to help others to know God more personally.

There are so many things we pray for people – for health and healing and safety, for success and stability – but how often do we pray for people to have God moments?  How often are we asking God to help someone have deep, personal, life changing, heartfelt encounters with him?  Or even more than encounters – ongoing, thriving life lived in the strength and nearness of his glorious presence?

This past week many pastors preached about the story of Peter, James and John on the mountain with Jesus, watching Jesus become transformed so that they vividly saw his divinity.[1]  So often the message is that we can’t stay there, we have to go down the mountain.  But can’t we just stay there a moment longer and enjoy it first?  And doesn’t God go with us down the mountain?  Isn’t everything we do after that better if we let it soak in first and then let God go with us?

It is my prayer that everyone would know the deep joy of God’s presence so that, like Peter, they want to stay there, and in a way that the Big Daddy Weave song would resonate with them, too, and overflow into all the parts of their lives.

But I wonder if this works the same for everyone.  Gary Thomas, in his book Sacred Pathways[2], tells how we all find God in different ways.  A song will not speak to everyone.  The same words will not resonate with everyone.  I get that.  Really, my prayer is not that the song would resonate, but that everyone would find the path that works for them so that they would know the joy that is described in that song, that they would be able to say, “God, I am so in love with you.”  Helping people find this is my goal as a pastor, my hope for my children, my prayer for my friends and for the world.

As you read this, know that means you, too.  I hope that you would know God’s love deeply enough to be deeply in love with him, because he’s deeply in love with you.  Jesus came to help us see that.  It’s a challenging, life changing, sometimes painfully strong love.  May you find time daily to bask in the glory shining from God’s face and enjoy his goodness and renewal and give thanks.

[2] Gary Thomas, Sacred Pathways (Zondervan, 2010)

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