Friday, March 21, 2014


I am one of those people that will stare at a blank page for minutes on end until I can think of the exact word I need. This is one of the (many) reasons I am not a phone person: I need time to carefully construct my thoughts and arrange them the way I want them to be expressed. I am a proofreader and a word re-organizer. This means I can't speak my mind easily or eloquently. I can't improvise--and I don't want to. There's something seriously almost magical about turning an incomplete thought into a perfectly-expressed sentence. (NOT that I am very good at this myself--but I appreciate it when I find it!)

Because of that, I'm also a big fan of picking out a random word that I think I understand pretty well and trying to reexamine its meaning in a new light. In this day and time, we take words for granted in a sense. We (okay, I) tend to use words carelessly and thoughtlessly. (Did you know that the Bible says no one and nothing is "good" outside of God, because it implies purity and wholeness? And yet so far this morning I've declared coffee, green light streaks and lengthy hot showers to be very good.) There's no getting around it sometimes, but I do believe it's worth pondering from time to time.

Lately, the word "glorify" has been on my mind. I typically use the word interchangeably with words like "praise", or even "worship", but it's more than that. It runs deeper. It carries far more weight. To glorify God doesn't just mean we lift our hands while we sing a worship song, and it doesn't just mean we start our prayers with some perfunctory thank-yous. Glorifying God requires action. It means that in everything that we do, we represent him-- and do it well. Even beyond that--glorifying and exalting the Lord is our ENTIRE PURPOSE.

I am so in love with this quote a friend shared recently from C.S. Lewis. (Sidenote: this friend's name is Elise, and her blog is chock-full of lovely things.) Let me share it with you:

“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses
but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.
It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are;
the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.
It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is;
to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley
of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because
the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch;
to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with. . . .
The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’
But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify.
In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.

Um, WOW. These words resonate with me and excite me. Haven't we all experienced the absolute NEED to praise? Don't we all know what it's like to have this incredible thing to share with someone (anyone!) and the frustration that follows if no one else can get excited by it?

How cool is our God? When he told us to love him, serve him and glorify him, he knew what he was doing! Our Lord is not an egotistical, power-hungry maniac who forces us to exalt him (although he totally could choose to be if he wanted, and what right would we have to complain? He's GOD!). Instead, he asks us to glorify him (by living for him) knowing full well that in doing so, we will find fulfillment. He created us to love him, and the reverse of that is in loving him well, we will find satisfaction and enjoyment--much like you and I feel that incredible sense of accomplishment when we realize we have a natural talent for something and bring it to fruition. It's a powerful moment, and it's completely God-ordained. Amazing.

"Glorify the Lord with me;

let us exalt his name together." 

-Psalm 34:3

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Psalm 130

Psalm 130: A song of ascents

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let Your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with You, there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve You.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in His word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord,
more than the watchmen wait for the morning,
more than the watchmen wait for the morning.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with Him is full redemption.
He Himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.

When I was little, I used to skim through the Psalms because they often seemed so similar. You have a first-person narrative, some desperation and ultimately a lot of hope. I recognized the truth in it, but it never seemed relevant to my cushy, first-world life as a young girl whose most insurmountable problems were in the realm of time-consuming homework and facial blemishes.

Fast-forward a few years and many bigger problems, and suddenly (or not-so-suddenly) I understand the vast despair that can lead to the penning of the phrase "out of the depths" and the yearning implied in "my whole being waits". I have a new appreciation for the idea of waiting for the Lord as watchmen wait for the morning. I am overwhelmed by the reminder that God--the vast, incomprehensible Creator of ALL--takes a personal interest in my life. WOW.

I love that this psalm (among others) is called "A song of ascents". Most of us are aware that to ascend means to rise or travel up. I love the imagery the author gives us with that: we are in the depths of our sinful natures, hopeless and useless, and our Jesus personally raises us up with Him. But did you also know the other meaning of the word ascent? Take a look at number five:

 Ascent Definition

A movement or return toward a source or beginning. We are not simply being lifted out of our sin to higher ground (though that alone has the power to stop my breath!). We are being moved to our Savior and our Redeemer. By crying out to God and by accepting Jesus's hand, we are returning to our Creator and Father. And all we have to do is ask!

The challenge embedded in this psalm is simple, and is an echo of the gospel of a whole:
   Recognize (not once, but each day!) that we are stuck in our sin.
   Cry out to our God for his unfailing mercy (not because we can earn it, but because He's waiting to pour it on us).
   Accept His forgiveness and grace with humility and gratefulness.
   And THEN, with reverence, serve Him, however we can and in everything we do--not just because it's our duty (although it definitely is), but because He chooses to work through us, and because that is our God-appointed purpose.

P.S. Thanks to #SheReadsTruth for the challenge! If you're looking for daily devotionals, reading plans and/or a community of women digging into the word, please check them out!