I had an intense November.
I wrote about all of it. Then I never posted it, because I’m a flaky, indecisive millennial. Jokes aside, it was better that I didn’t post it then because I still had lots to digest and think through. So here goes.
Back in November I listened to two sermons, one on relationships and reconciliation, and the other on humility. Both were seemingly different, and yet spoke to the same message – humility means keeping your eyes on God. Relationships take humility. And humility takes looking beyond yourself to see the greatness of God and all He has made. You want to be humble? Strap on your worship gear and get to it. Bring praise to God through the good and the bad, and you’ll experience His power to humble you. Your mind will change, your attitude towards others and yourself will change, because you start to appreciate all that God is – by the Holy Spirit’s enabling and transforming in your heart, the glory of God becomes real and overwhelmingly valuable in your heart and mind.
I’ll tell you that I’m a sucker for really good analogies. And from the sermon on humility, the Holy Spirit shook my heart with this analogy about how we view the glory of God, versus how we value our own selves, our glory: “Vain glory is like turning your back on the Grand Canyon, in order to take a picture of a crack in the sidewalk.” I was wrecked by that, and suddenly desperate for change. I was desperate to hold in my heart the heart and glory of God.
My puny wick of a heart was all of a sudden set on fire by the Holy Spirit, to say to God, “I don’t want to look at myself anymore and think only of myself so much. I know I still do it. But God, I want to pursue Your glory, I want you to show me how great You are. I truly want to see things your way.”
And ohhhh man. I got what I prayed for.
So how exactly did God answer my prayer? Long story short, by letting me almost get into an insane car accident, and by letting me lose thousands of dollars (which was 100% out of my control) in a matter of minutes. So yeah, I had a near insane car accident, and the next day I watched all my income go down the drain.
What. The. Heck.
God, are you NUTS?
But there was most definitely method in the madness.
Because what He gave me was two scenarios to practice pursuing His glory over my own. These two situations allowed me for once in my life, to stop and appreciate the glory of God. In them, God showed me two things: 1. He does actually hold my life in His hands and 2. He alone is my stability when everything else eventually crumbles. I have no other foundation. He showed me how to loosen my grip on my glory, to pursue His.
In those weeks in November, I learned that looking to God and praising Him in the difficulty does turn my perspective on everything upside down – it makes it less about me, and my own abilities and my pride, and says, “God, it’s all you, I’m trusting you because you say you’re just, good, righteous, and faithful, and you just know better than I ever could.” Trusting and praising God in my time of financial failure brought peace to my mind, and it just made me love Him so much more. Through praise, the Holy Spirit made God’s glory precious to me. In praise God really did show me the emptiness of self-glory; He showed me how worldly desires and temporal treasures are in fact poor foundations. In pain and loss, God reminds us of what really matters, what is eternal, and it makes the rest feel like nothing in comparison.
As I learned how to pursue God’s glory, I also found myself able to receive His peace.
Praise opens our hearts to peace. Worship and praise put our thoughts and feelings in their place, at the feet of God. Worship keeps the deceptive feelings of “control” out of our hands and gives it up to God. But praising God is also the last thing we want to do when our lives are spinning out of control. Who really wants to proclaim that “God is so mighty and good,” when you lose your job? Who really feels like praising God when a natural disaster wipes away everything you hold dear? Our emotions can be so powerful.
Make no mistake, praising God doesn’t mean you push your pain and emotions aside and “suck it up”. Working through pain is a process. However, being able to worship has everything to do with the Holy Spirit. No one in their own power can bring themselves to bring praise to God, to honor Him above it all and appreciate Him in all His worth. The desire and ability to worship takes its root and source in the Holy Spirit. He draws our gaze upward. He nourishes in us a hunger and desire for God, especially in pain.
So in those moments when I was hyperventilating after watching a car come within inches of hitting me, in those moments after getting a text from my boss telling me that I had indeed lost all my profit and income, it was the Holy Spirit who prompted me, who reminded me of the grace of God, and how great that grace is. While my world was spinning, and I was desperate to grab control by adjusting my thoughts and feelings of control accordingly, the Spirit of God reminded me of who really was holding the wheel.
*Cue Carrie Underwood*
Worship lends us perspective on who is really in control. Worship takes our eyes off of ourselves on puts them back onto God. Worship lets us appreciate how glorious, powerful, loving, and wise God is – worship reminds of us these wonderful facts about God. And when by the Holy Spirit we appreciate God in His glory, trust is possible, and peace comes – because trust is not about my ability to believe hard enough in God. Trust is about the marvelous facts of the One in whom I believe.