This morning I read in Tozer’s The Purpose of Man, this lovely quote:
“God made you in order that you might stand up and charm the rest of the universe as you sing praises to the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why you were made in His image.”
What would my life look like to others and feel like to me if every purpose of my heart turned towards worship?
Inevitably, this life would charm others on the journey. I think about what it means more broadly to “stand up” and “sing praises” in various forms and in various settings. The standing up seems public, deliberate, and visible. The singing seems vocal, beautiful, and honoring. Perhaps our standing up simply means to reveal in a public way our adoration of Jesus in some kind of vocal way. I say this because my form of singing (I cannot sing at all!) is writing, teaching, and speaking. My form of standing up right now is publishing and speaking about Jesus wherever I am.
We’re made to stand up and sing praises to Jesus.
I’m studying the Parable of the Lost Son in Luke 15, and I realize again the vital practice of seeing oneself as the parent who welcomes home. The father in the parable runs with compassion towards his wayward son who now has started his journey back home.
What I notice most is the running. I notice how the son has not yet repented, has not yet made anything right, has not yet showed any change of lifestyle. But these behaviors were never a condition for the father’s response.
This terrible son has brought great shame upon himself and his family. This terrible son has wasted the family’s resources. This terrible son has ruined so much.
Yet the father runs with compassion. The father dresses him with honor. The father prepares a lavish feast. And even as the older brother responds with jealousy and anger, the father stops to love and instruct him as well.
I think about preparing a feast of love, gifts, and honor for those around me on the journey. Instead of shaming, punishment, or anger, for example, when my children make choices I would not make, I pray to respond differently: I start running, and I bring a feast of love.
I leave for a 5:30 AM walk. I’m in another city nothing like my own, yet so much feels familiar at this hour. The certain slant of light, the movement and sounds of birds, the slinking cats, the darting squirrels, and the trucks growling to life all remind me of some interconnected, shared experience of morning.
We all sleep. We all awaken.
We enter this new morning once again.
I consider how, when we learn something new–like a new word or concept–we suddenly seem to encounter it everywhere.
We have what scientists call “selective attention.”
When I focused on my love of verbs like grapple or fritter, I would hear or see these verbs several times a day, as if my love of them somehow generated them.
They were there whether I perceived them or not; I simply encountered them on the day they stayed fresh in my mind.
I think about this seven year journey into mystery and beauty, of whimsy and joy, of finding spiritual allegories in everything. I have selective attention.
The brain observes what it has just learned and what it’s focused on, so I keep beauty fresh, new, and near. I keep Jesus tight to my mind.
I notice in Psalm 33, 40, 96, 98, 144, and 149 how we’re invited to sing to the Lord a “new song.” I wonder: Why is it a new song? In Isaiah 42-43, we see the same concept. The Lord is doing a new thing. We sing new songs. As I search the scriptures, I see so many new things happening. Jeremiah proclaimed that we have new mercies each new day.
God is doing something new and fresh and previously unknown. He invites us to sing about this new thing, to make a new song, to experience the new. What a great, new day we have before us!
I love learning more and more about worshipping God. Worship, I’m thinking, means delighting in Him, honoring Him, celebrating Him, responding to Him, communing with Him, and just enjoying Him (to name only a few possibilities of worship). It’s what we do with earthly fathers, in smaller ways, on Father’s Day as a natural, unforced, joyful, and often spontaneous overflow of love.
I think that, no matter what’s happening or where I am, I can worship. Instead of my productivity goals, my meaning-making, my teaching and writing and speaking, my parenting, or whatever else, I’m mostly made to worship today.
I sit in front of a cherry tree. So many birds hang on the branches, and they gobble entire cherries, swallowing them whole in one or two gulps.
It’s a joyful, abundant moment.
I notice how many kinds of larger birds find refuge here: robins, thrashers, warblers, and sparrows. It’s a feast! The birds stay so busy on those branches, they hardly seem to notice any commotion of children beneath them, of bike riders, or of walkers. Nothing matters but the communion, the feast, and the joy.
My daughter invites me to play some hand-clapping games with her, and I’m amazed how little they’ve changed! Miss Mary Mack, Billy Boy, Down, Down Baby and so many others have stood the test of time.
In the 1980’s on the playground, we stood around and played these hand clapping games. I enjoyed this nostalgic moment. So much has changed for my daughters in terms of technology, but so much has also stayed the same.
This morning I read this in Psalm 75: We give thanks to you, O god. We give thanks, for your Name is near. Men tell of your wonderful deeds. . . You say, “When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm.”
How wonderful to consider the nearness of God! I love the imagery of people quaking and how God holds their pillars firm.
When I’m quaking, God holds my pillars firm. Everything might spin out, fall apart, and seem like chaos on any given day, but God holds everything firmly in His grip.
I remember the advice of so many who, when overwhelmed, say, “Just do the next thing.”
We don’t need to live this whole life, year, summer, month, or even day all at once. We don’t need to live this whole morning or afternoon. We just need to do the next thing.
And the next.
And the next.