There are times when God brings about a confluence of thoughts and events together in unique, unimaginable ways to show us something of Himself. Such was the case with me in the past few days as I have been reading. And such was the case last night as I listened to a piece of music a friend shared from her church worship on Sunday morning. The music was beautiful. I knew the tune. I did not know the words. The tune was one of those that can stick in your head and won’t go away. It dawned on me this morning that the music was from Holst’s composition, “The Planets,” the particular song being “Jupiter.” It is a beautiful, majestic piece of music. The words were written in the early 1980’s. I had not heard them before, but they are equally magnificent in the worship of God. Here are the words to O God Beyond All Praising:
O God beyond all praising, we worship you today
and sing the love amazing that songs cannot repay;
for we can only wonder at every gift you send,
at blessings without number and mercies without end.
We lift our hearts before you and wait upon your Word,
we honor and adore you, our great and mighty Lord.
The flower of earthly splendor in time must surely die,
and its fragile bloom surrender to you, the Lord most high;
but hidden from all nature the eternal seed is sown –
though small in mortal stature, to heaven’s garden grown:
for Christ, your gift from heaven, from death has set us free,
and we through him are given the final victory.
Then hear, O gracious savior, accept the love we bring,
that we who know your favor may serve you as our king;
and whether our tomorrows be filled with good or ill,
we’ll triumph through our sorrows and rise to bless you still:
to marvel at your beauty and glory in your ways,
and make a joyful duty our sacrifice of praise.
Another piece of what I have been reading has to do with how we come to know. Remember, this is against a backdrop of what it is to live in the kingdom of heaven here on earth. Here are some ideas that are still percolating in my mind:
- We learn in small bits of discovering; knowledge is a journey along which we pick up clues that lead us further on our journey.
- Knowledge is God-directed.
- Knowledge takes place in relationship.
- Love is at the core of knowing.
- Gentleness and respect are practices that must accompany the invitation to come to know.
- God is beautiful; He is also full of truth and righteousness. Our culture doesn’t understand such attributes.
- Because we are made in the image of God, He is at work in us to show our culture what it doesn’t understand – the beauty and truth and righteousness of God.
- Just as children imitate the behavior of their parents, we are to imitate our Father as He works His attributes into our lives so that we can provide visual models to the people around us of what God is like.
A final quote from Firstfruits of a New Creation that particularly stuck me: “Understanding that we love in order to know orients us in a posture of care, disposed to engage the real. The not-yet-believer is deeply real and displays the glory of God in good measure. Their rebellion against God…is as intimate as our submission; and they are not far from the kingdom. To know them is to invite the real. In the evangelistic relationship, it is to invite the real in unbelievers – to invite them in a way that draws them more fully to being truly themselves. It may be an act of creative attention. Also, it is to invite God himself – to look for and welcome what God is already at work doing in unbelievers’ lives…“
As we engage with our neighbors, friends, and others, it is important that we know and apply what we are coming to know about God and about those we encounter.
How is God teaching you about Himself?