Friday, September 13, 2013

Hallowed Be Thy Name: Life of Mercy - Book Excerpt

I'm not sure why I'm doing this post today, other than responding to a prompting I'm feeling.  I've been working on a trio of books that flush out what Matthew 22:37-39 mean for us today.  The first one is about what it means to love God.  The second about what it means to love yourself.  The third and final is what it means to love your neighbor.  There are a lot of people in Church today that, despite excellent preaching and teaching, still need to go higher, deeper and wider with the Lord.  I'm still not sure if I'm the one to write this message for any other reason than  I'm living it. 

Even with those misgivings, I still have to say it.  This part is from a chapter currently called Love.  (Maybe by the time it's published, I'll think of a better chapter title.)

Someone is seeking more of God but not quite sure how to go about it.  This portion is part of the chapter discussing how love and respect go together to tie us further into God.  I'm going to paste it now, trusting that the Lord will do what He wants with it, in all it's mildly edited glory.  Here goes nothing.... 

Hallowed Be Thy Name
A right relationship with God starts with love, manifests itself in submission and then obedience; but is born out of a heart full of reverence.  Reverence, or honor and respect (often called “fear of the Lord” in Scripture) is about knowing where God is supposed to be, in the universe and in your heart (and by extension, where you fit in to it all as well).  It’s about making sure you don’t put yourself as equal with God, but let Him lift you up, rather than pushing hard to do it yourself.  Kirk Franklin sums it up nicely when he says,

You are God and I am not.

If we truly love someone, we respect them, hopefully.  It’s hard to respect someone you don’t love (or like); ok - pretty much impossible.  Just being the humans we are, it’s hard to maintain that position of love-honor-respect for a lengthy period of time.  If there is any doubt of that in your mind, look at the state of marriage today.  That’s the easy example, especially when I look at my own.  It seems to be easiest to disrespect the people closest to you, those you claim to love the most.  Or, take a look at my kids who stray into the disrespectful ways of behavior most often with me versus, say, their grandparents. 

(When my older girls were younger, I was told to take their disobedience, i.e. temper tantrums, as a compliment.  The logic is they are most comfortable with me, so they feel I'm the safest person to act crazy around because they know I won't love them any less.  Maybe that is true, but that logic fails to convince me to cut them much slack.)

Drifting into disrespect is the human condition.  But faith in Christ means we have a desire to be elevated above our regular old humanity.  It means we want to make good on God’s promise to demonstrate His glory through His creatures.  Even the often stumbling, bumbling Disciples show this to be true when they ask Jesus to teach them how to pray.  They knew He was doing it right, connecting God the Father the way it was supposed to be done.  Those nutty guys proved we can be human and still pursue the longing for more of the divine influence.  It’s what we said we wanted when we asked Jesus for salvation and what He promises to give us on the journey to make us saints.

Paul Escamilla articulates this in his book Longing for Enough in a Culture of More.  He discusses the impact of the first line of the Lord’s prayer,

…If you yourself felt a need deep within to honor something beyond yourself, namely your Creator, to hold in unspeakable regard the God who made you, loves you, and made those whom you love, the God who created the very world in which you live and move and have your being.  Only if we had to name some reality in whose presence we would be hard pressed not to weep in wonder – only then would we teach a prayer that began in the way Jesus’ prayer begins, Hallowed be your name.

Escamilla ends the chapter with what we already know – to pursue the wonder of God made more full in our lives is a risk.  It requires sacrifice, a lessening of our grip on the world (and our own lives), in order to grab hold of more of Jesus.  We must be in a position where He is the only solution, like the woman with the issue of blood.  We must love, respect and honor Him as the way to wholeness, which motivates us to reach for His hemline.  If that is all we ever touch, we will still have the faith that touching just that small article of clothing, the very edge of His glory, will be more than enough to heal us. 

When we enter into a life lived for God’s mercy, we know we will get something out of it.  What exactly remains to be seen and that’s where we (I) falter.  Fear and pride shift into high gear to win the war over love and respect.  It’s the well-worn struggle of flesh versus spirit.  And the Spirit won’t always win.

Yet that is exactly the reason our love and reverence, or hallowing of God, can grow.  He allows us to come back despite our failings and fallings.  He is a God worthy of the sacrifice.  He is constantly moving us and this world towards shalom – or wholeness.  His goal is to heal His creation; and healing – who doesn’t need a little (or a lot) of that?

Jesus said He came for the sick.  What He didn’t say, but Scripture does, is that we are all sick.  It is in our efforts to connect with God, to make Him, His Son and His Spirit, more real, that we find the wholeness we seek.  Here is a prayer I wrote while meditating on revering God more in my own life and loosely based on Psalm 25:4-5,

Lord, thank you for taking me to a place where questions, control, fear and the unknown don’t stop me from seeking You.  I want to grow in relationship to you, move to a new level of faith, love and respect for all Your ways.  Teach me more about Your love, grace, mercy and holiness because it is in that place where You heal my humanity that the shades of my life turn from gray to an explosion of color I’ve never before seen. 

It’s the moment when humanity is overcome by Majesty.
When Grace is ushered in for good,
And all my scars are understood.
When Mercy takes its rightful place
And all my fears fade away.
When out of weakness we must bow,
To hear You say, “It’s over now.”

Those are lyrics from Mercy Me’s song, “The Hurt and the Healer.”  No matter what season of life you are in, God deserves more respect.  His commands, His way of life demand more reverence.  He is owed elevation from just a God we know to a God we don’t know, but want to.  In the search for His truth to be made tangible, we will understand more and more and more.  Not only that, we will hunger for more and more and more of the right ways of being – the ways He intended in the first place.  The right way of life starts with the right position.  Mr. Franklin has been right all along.  He is God and I am not. 

So, Hallowed be Thy Name.

1 comment:

Janice and James said...

Praise the Lord, dear Amy!!! Oh, Lord, Hallowed be Thy Name!! Precious Savior, dear Friend, Great Shepherd, Jesus, I love you!!