Saturday, February 16, 2019

Called to Glorify God.

"The heavens declare the glory of God,
the skies proclaim the work of His hands."
Psalm 19:1

I have definitely been avoiding writing this post. I avoid writing for many reasons these days, the most recent one being,  I am just not ready to say a lot about this topic. How does one summarize the Call to Glorify God? How long would I really need to read my bible to get a good enough grasp on it in order to inform you accurately of the importance, and then have some great practical tips about living it out? I'm pretty sure that amount of time is infinity. 

We all admit that we don't pretend to be perfect, but we all kind of try to. At least, we try to minimize our sin by calling it flaws or hangups or struggles. We put our best foot forward on social media and don't speak up about issues until we are certain we have the correct stance, worded in a way that will prevent any backlash. When we do admit to our sin or fallenness, it's usually done with an attempt to relate to others, to show we are real, and to make sure people don't put us on a pedestal. 

But these things aren't helping us live out our calling to Glorify God. We don't glorify Him by tucking our sin away, or by only admitting it without any intention of dealing with it. I haven't been meaning to hide, but I also haven't wanted to admit that I just don't know that much about how to Glorify God. 

I like to think I do, but while trying to wrap my mind around it, I just felt kind of lost. I know things the bible says to do, and I can think through why certain actions do not glorify God, but when I intentionally sit down to consider what it looks like to pursue glorifying God, my answers seemed pretty simple. 

I think this might all actually be pretty simple, but I cannot "prove" all it to you. I have some bible verses, and a heap of thinking I've done, along with some praying and studying, but I still have a long way to go. 

The hardest part about walking down this entire Called journey for me has been the way it pushed me through the different trials and problems a person needs to encounter in order to really take advantage of all these tools and practical lessons I've put out here. I could not explain to you why we need to know God until I saw my deep need to know Him too. Unless I had struggled through learning to obey God in small ways that seemed totally purposeless for the desires of my own life, I would not have been able to offer any type of advice, comfort, or encouragement for you while you tried to walk that path. 

While I wish I desired to glorify God as earnestly as the bible calls me to, I have to admit that I often want my own glory more than God's. I want people to see how good I am, how excellent I have become, and how much I can do. It's so easy to think our abilities lay within our own flesh, and a reliance on Him has to come long before we can glorify Him. 

Maybe that's a Call I missed, the Call to trust Him. I believe it comes naturally from knowing Him, as do all the other Calls I've written about. And that's part of the problem with the place I'm in today. While I've been searching for understanding in many ways, I've slipped in my pursuit of knowing God personally, daily, forgetting that holding communion with Him in all my moments is worth the effort it takes. I forget what a relief it is to forget about my agenda and only seek Him. 

I will be reading a huge, fat book my pastor loaned my about this topic, though it might take me a while to get through it. It's called Recalling the Hope of Glory by Allen P. Ross, and while it has a lot to do with worship, I think it will have a lot to say about our purposes in glorifying God. 

I do have a few thoughts, despite all my rambling and confession of inadequacy :) 

The earth declares God's glory. 

But why? This is not any type of scholarly insight, but rather my mind trying to find the root of how the earth does this. 

One thing, is that it's beautiful, just the way He made it. We too glorify God when we live wholly as He made us to live, each uniquely designed for the purposes and good works He is bringing before us (Eph. 2:10). Peter reminds us of this too, telling the Jews to conduct themselves in ways that are honorable, so that those on the outside will see their good works and glorify God alongside them (1 Peter 2:12). This means we work, we love, we honor, we DO things. It requires an active participation in God's redeeming work. He made your life beautiful, but striving to live in ways that are outside of His grand purposes only taints the image He is creating in you. 

Another reason, is that creation obeys. Creation lives out the exact purpose God designed it to live. Rocks form, plants grow, planets spin. Existing in the order that God designed creation to exist in glorifies Him. God commands the earth to spin, and so it spins. He commands the fish to swim, and they go right along. We too glorify God in our daily obedience. It's not always other people watching that bring the glory either. There is a spiritual realm we cannot see and when we obey God in all the small ways, we help fight against that darkness and oppression. Peter agains calls us to do all things unto Christ (not just so everyone can see) so that Christ will be glorified in all we do, big or small (1 Peter 4:7-11).

Lastly, I see that giving seems to be a visual testament of God's glory. The earth gives of itself without hesitation - it's simply made to do that. With God, it was His love for us that propelled Him to give His only son that we might become His children (John 1:12). We know that the greatest act of love that exists is laying down one's life for another, and that we are Called to love one another. Therefore, we are Called to give of ourselves, and that sacrificial giving glorifies God. Like the earth does. Like Jesus did. And like Jesus said, it will require you to "take up your cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24)

Jesus also said that if we desire to find life in Him, we must lose it. We must hand it over and give it up (Matthew 16:25).

This is the crux of my struggle to write this and the problem I keep running up against: I cannot glorify God while I am clinging to the life I think I ought to have. 

An analogy came to me this morning that spoke to my struggle with this. I was thinking about a speaker in front of her audience. When speaking, it is certainly lovely to have an involved audience. When you ask a question and no one raises their hand, it can be rough. Engagement is confirmation that people are tracking with you and interested in participating in the learning. But, it also stinks to be in an empty room. Even if you have a few highly participatory people, it still feels hard. Those people in the audience who may not say a lot, they have an important role. They honor the speaker by being there, listening, and giving of their time. 

If I am not the speaker in the room, I am always one of those participatory members. I'm getting better at just sitting and listening, but I like to talk ;) What about those who seem to do nothing but sit? Who bring comfort and affirmation simply by being there? They also bring honor. They may be unknown, or seem of little importance, but their role is still valuable.

Do I really believe it? If my life remains small, unnoticed, and little, will I live with joy, trusting God that my little life is bringing the most glory to Him possible? 

Thinking through all of this has shown me how much I value being known myself, and wanting to be known for being important in God's kingdom. But it's so twisted in my heart and mind. I want to have a big impact, huge! I want my life to change the world. That's just it though. My life cannot, only a giving of my life to God's purposes. And that might not be as globe-altering as I wish. Am I okay with that? Can I at least try to be okay with that? 

I believe God made me an over-achiever for a reason. He obviously put this fire in me to do something, but I don't know how to harness it the right way. Thankfully, that's where obedience comes in. That's why this whole Called thing got started in the first place! I cannot know where God will take me, and I will never have cause to argue with Him about what might have been a better path for me. The only thing I can do is walk with Him, glorify Him, love others, prepare for His return, and obey Him endlessly. 

It feels so much easier (and like so much more fun) to plan out how we want to glorify God. But we just cannot know what tomorrow will bring. Our daily obedience is the only way to guarantee we are glorifying God. Selfish-ambition too easily takes over. We have to trust that what needs done right now, right in front of us, is the thing God will use to glorify Himself and bring us the satisfaction we long for. 

I know it seems strange to say we will find our heart's longing in obeying God each day, but it's true. And if aren't finding satisfaction and joy in obeying His voice, it's because our hearts are not tracking with His purposes. When we desire His agenda, obeying is like confirmation that we are with Him. And being with Him is the best thing we can ever have. It's the goal, the blessing, the thing that grows real fruit in our lives and gives us something to offer those around us. All things that lead us to Him are worth the sacrifice, and giving of all yourself over to Him and His purposes is the fastest, most efficient, best way to glorify God. 

Are you up for it? 

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