1st September 2011
I read a story recently of a man who was in an airplane about to eat his purchased in-flight $5 lunch, when he glanced to his right at a bunch of soldiers all sitting quietly without any food. He could not bring himself to eat his, but got up and went to the steward’s cabin at the back of the plane. He gave the hostess a $50 bill and asked her to give food to the ten soldiers. She teared up and told him that what he was doing, he was doing for her own son who was still in Iraq. A little later while he was sitting in his seat, another hostess came up with a tray of food from the first-class cabin, which she said was as a “thank-you” . Then two strangers came up to him and each gave him $25, and said that they also wanted to help. Then the pilot arrived and asked to shake his hand. All the passengers began to clap in appreciation.
It does not take much to raise the joy level in any situation. Even the smallest grace acts of kindness can transform the atmosphere in a second. I had a similar situation happen to me on a flight to the island of St. John. What ended up happening in that instance was that eight of the passengers came to the church that I was ministering at.
Getting joy is God’s grace to us; keeping joy is our charge and opportunity to others.
It is plain also that any happiness unsupported by the giver of true happiness is a thin veneer that waits for a situation to disrupt it.
The key to shepherding God’s glory in joy rests in the belief that we stand on level ground with Jesus, and that he gives us the pleasure of administering it. He said, “Behold, little flock it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). David understood this so that he might be able to both confess his sin and proclaim his integrity at the same time. Psalm 26 shows this belief – it is God’s glory, and not his efforts that had placed him in the midst of God’s glory. It is God’s glory that has created a hunger in him for more of God! He writes, “How I love the habitation of your house, and the place where your glory dwells” (Psalm 26:8). Later in the psalms, Ethan writes, “for you are their glory and strength, and by your favor you exalt their horn” (89:17). In 96:6-8, the psalmist writes, “strength and beauty are in his sanctuary… ascribe to the Lord glory due his name”.
Clearly, God’s glory is meant to shine through those who live in God’s house. They are “hidden”, in a way of speaking, in the cleft of the rock Jesus Christ. When Moses said to God, “now show me your glory”, God responded by hiding him “in the cleft of the rock” (Exodus 33:18-22). Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would show the “glory of the Lord, and all people would see it” (40:5). Isaiah backs these words with an oath that “the mouth of the Lord has spoken”. When God makes an oath, he swears to it on his own life!
By both God’s response to Moses, and by the words of all the prophets, it is certain that any relationship with God includes the visible presence of his glory among humankind, so that “together they would see”.
We should ask: why is there so little evidence of God’s glory today, though we should not be mistaken about the massive amount of grace; mercy, and life-sustaining love that God is pouring out on everyone every instant of our existence?
I mean no disrespect to all the born again saints who do walk in God’s glory every day, but I speak of a sense that God is calling us all deeper, and further than we have been before. For instance, what are we meant to think about the scripture that says, “Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made” (Isaiah 43:7).
It would simply be sad if we were to find out later, that we had much more glory on tap than we imagined possible. Paul’s words carry with them an urging or beseeching. One can feel that he is asking the Corinthians to raise their eyes higher when he writes, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31), and again, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Without a doubt, this world wants to be filled with joy, and must also want to enjoy the presence of God’s glory. Most of us however, would admit to not knowing how to shepherd it well. Moments of ecstasy or victory can be quickly swallowed up by the mundane; by mounting debt; by difficult events; by personal insecurities; by relational mishaps, or by some other negative thing, but what gives joy to the saints is the knowledge that they stand, as David did, “on level ground”! Some need to acquire their “sea legs”, so that when their boat sways in the swell, they continue to stand as if “on level ground”; some need to surrender their temper to God, so that when conflict arises, they can stay standing on level ground; some need to give their timidity to God, so that when a difficult situation emerges they can stay standing on level ground
The story of the Air-Samaritan was not concluded until he arrived in the terminal. He approached the soldiers and gave them the $50 he had received from the other passengers and told them to use it to feed themselves later that day. I would bet that their lives were deeply touched that day!
Keep on. Loys