Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Our God, Who Is One

Having already contributed several poems to my home church's quarterly newsletter, I recently gave the following selection to the music ministry with the suggestion it be sung to the tune "Lyons" (best known among traditional-hymn lovers as the tune used for "O Worship the King").

"Pure worship" songs are relatively rare these days. We thank God for His blessings; we even praise Him for what He has done for us; but we forget to praise Him solely for Who He is. The danger here is that we may be tempted to start thinking it's all about us. If we neglect to keep up the habit of pure praise when times are "good," it will be harder to remember that God is good when we hit those periods where everything seems to go wrong.

When God suddenly seems to toss aside all we expect of Him--when everything happening around us seems to contradict the idea that a good God even exists--do we decide we must have been self-deluded to ever trust Him? Or do we hang on to the solid Truth that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28, NIV)? The answer may depend on whether we were in the habit of looking at the "big picture"--God is all-knowing, God sees all things from beginning to end, God is so far above us that we can't hope to understand everything He does--or of thinking of His goodness and provision solely in relation to things we like to see happen. In the latter case, we may set ourselves up as accomplices in the murder of our own faith.

Granted, it's hard for the best of us to remember--really remember from our hearts--that God is still pure and caring and all-powerful when our lives are engulfed in tragedy. The book of Job is worth studying here. When the reverent and God-fearing Job was struck by disaster, his initial reaction was "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.... Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" (Job 1:20; 2:10); but as his pain dragged on and his friends tormented him with accusations of bringing it on himself, his attitude began to dissolve into "why me?" complaining. Then, in chapters 38-41, God steps in to remind Job Who is in charge of the universe and how weak humans are in comparison. Although Job doesn't learn why he went through all he did, he does come to know God in a new way--which is ultimately enough.

God is not worthy of worship only because He gives us things that make us happy. He is worthy of worship because He is God.

Our God, Who is One, yet Three, for all time,
Is greater by far than grasp of the mind.
The One Who is worthy, Revealer of all,
Is building a Kingdom that never will fall.

He brought forth the world from out of the void;
He sent forth the Flood that cleaned and destroyed.
He chose His own people and gave them His Word;
He led them and fed them, and His voice was heard.

He spoke words that warned; He spoke words that healed,
That pardoned and judged, that blazed and revealed.
And when all seemed hopeless and lost in the night,
He sent the true Word to bring mortals His light.

He walked on this earth; He reached out in love;
He suffered and died to lift us above.
He came from the tomb--He was stronger than death--
Then sent forth fresh power by the wind of His breath.

He still sends His strength to all who believe,
With pardon and peace for those who receive.
His Presence within us, we do glorious things
Through gifts that the Spirit of Holiness brings.

The day soon will come--the time’s drawing near--
When He will return and drive out all fear.
His Kingdom, eternal, forever will stand,
And we will reign with Him in His glorious land.

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