Gloria in Excelsis Deo

I have been struggling the past few weeks with the idea of praise. Like most folks, I like being praised for something I’ve done. In itself, that is not a bad thing. What becomes a problem is when I accept such praise and leave it at that. The fact is, as a Christian, my purpose is to focus and magnify the Light of Christ. I am not the Light. Whatever ability I have to create or shine comes as God creates in me or shines through me.

Does this mean, every time someone notes a good job I’ve done, I need to say it wasn’t me, but God working through me? Well, no, I don’t think so. I think the need is more simply my own humility of heart to recognize any power, any creativity, any capacity to accomplish anything is a gift from God.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of lights, the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens, in whom there is no variation, no rising or setting or shadow cast by His turning, for He is perfect and never changes. (James 1:17, AMP)

When I was a kid, I watched a movie about a few university students working to build an extremely powerful laser. Before a crucial project test, a rival student smears grease over one of the lenses. When the laser is fired through the dirty lens, rather than focusing the light on the target, the smudge interferes and distorts the beam.

That same sort of interference and distortion occurs in my life when I start to think I deserve the adulation of others for whatever I may have accomplished. Instead of shining the Light of God into the world, I’m trying to hot-wire my own little headlamp. No one can clearly see God through me when I am smeared with arrogance. Not only do I miss an opportunity to give glory to God myself, but to anyone who may be looking, I offer an inaccurate image of Him.

Father of Light,

What a risk You take every day to show Your Light through us. What an honor to be invited into Your Brilliance. Thank You for blessing us so much that I can actually make the mistake of thinking I’ve done something to deserve it. Help me to recognize Your fingerprints on every good thing I do. Cleanse my heart that I may see clearly and allow others to see You clearly in me. Let all that I am and everything I do bring You glory.

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Ooh, Look, a Rainbow!

The window in our front door has a beveled design in the glass. DD gets very excited each day when the sun shines through the glass, which acts as a prism and makes rainbows on the living room walls. It occurred to me the other day, that I have a lot in common with a prism–at least, I could.

Every color of the rainbow is in the sunlight all the time. But we only get to see them when they shine through something that acts as a prism–a beveled glass, drops of moisture in the air, even a clear plastic cup works, so long as it’s clean. In the same way, God is at work all the time, yet He chooses to show off His “colors” through the hearts and lives of the people He created. But, just like a prism, nobody gets a good image of God revealed in us when we let our hearts get dusty and dingy or we move out of the Light.

God is Light and in him is no darkness at all. So if we say we are His friends but go on living in spiritual darkness and sin, we are lying. But if we are living in the light of God’s presence, just as Christ does, then we have wonderful fellowship and joy with each other, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from every sin. (I John 1:5b-7, TLB)

God,

It’s so easy to get focused on me and forget that I was made to shine Your Light. I want to be noticed. I want to be recognized and lauded and talked about because I’m so wonderful. And yet, as lovely as a prism may be, what makes it positively spectacular is the light shining through, refracted into a rainbow. I simply don’t have the capacity to inspire wonder on the level You do.

Thank You for creating me and shaping me and shining in me. Help me to recognize the beauty of Your Light in my life. Let me be available and transparent enough for You to create a magnificent rainbow through me. Thank You for the privilege of showing Your Light to the world.

Confidence in Me?

Fifteen hours from now, I have a job interview scheduled. This is not my dream job, but one that could help us make ends meet over the next several months. I hate interviewing. Maybe if I keep singing and swing a suitcase by my side, it will be easier. Then again, Maria already had the job working for a Captain with seven children (What’s so fearsome about that?).

There is a scene from the beginning of the movie Joe Versus the Volcano where the boss, played by Dan Hedaya, is talking on the phone to a colleague about a potential new hire. He keeps repeating the sentence, “I know he can get the job, but can he do the job?” I feel like I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum: I know I can do the job, but can I get it?

God,

I hate job searching. I hate feeling like I have to sell myself and talk myself up and be confident and charismatic and brag about my accomplishments.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (I Peter 4:10-11, NIV)

God, I don’t know what it means to praise You in the context of this interview. I am struggling to see how looking for a part-time job to supplement the family income is going to bring glory to You. Help me see how You strengthen me to serve through a job I’d rather not have to get. Let me speak the words that You’d have me say. May I show Your grace to everyone I come into contact with today. Thank You that, no matter where I go or what I do, You are there with me. And, no matter how confident or incompetent I feel during the interview, may You be glorified.