(As a courtesy, I think I’ll try to begin posting much more frequently on the site here. It can be quite frustrating to check someone’s site and to find a new entry only once every two months. I realize that, so I will attempt to change it, hopefully without saying things when there’s nothing to say. If I can’t, then I just won’t keep the site.)
It’s been too long since the last entry, but I’m feeling doxological after playing guitar and singing “O Worship the King” (see ‘Currently Reading’, #10). While I find myself presently underneath more multi-colored burdens and trials than at any other time in my memory (and sharing those burdens with my wife – praise God for the grace of marriage), there is perhaps no greater comfort and delight than the glory of God. Unfortunately, when we think of “glory”, we don’t often think of “delight” as corresponding to it. For the unbeliever, it’s due to blindness and spiritual death. For the believer, it’s inexcusable, but it’s due to our gorging ourselves at the banquet table of the world instead of at the free feast of the King (of this sin, I am chief). And so one of the most blessed acts of God is His ripping us away from the world and the world away from us. The tear hurts, but it is a grace-filled pain. Much comfort has been taken from me in the past few months. Good things. Spiritual things. Dear friends. Partners in ministry. Unimaginable fellowship. Conversational comfort. Familiar habitations. Familial harmony. These have been replaced, in large part, by incalculably hard decisions, intense family trials, an unknown future, a burning heart for the mission field and the unreached that is not yet quenched, overwhelming sin being confessed to me, wonderful yet wearying conversations, conversations that were not wonderful and only wearying, mental fatigue, personal attack and accusation by people whom I have loved and therefore challenged on their sin, the raging battle with my own sin (“raging” and “battle” barely do it justice)…… I say the above not to create an altar of complaint upon which to crucify the reality of the goodness of God, but rather to acknowledge the black backdrop of difficulty and hardship in front of which that very goodness dazzles so brightly. The light-filled air of the city is not the vantage-point from which to see the stars. I need the midnight sky of the wilderness. Billboard lights, street lights, and headlights are all good and helpful things, but they so easily obscure the stars. And so I need the wilderness, because out here, the multi-faceted, multi-directional, blazing stars of God’s glory and holiness and love and comfort and loyalty and wrath and provision and kindness and lovingkindness and mercy and pity and long-suffering are so much more clearly seen. The good gifts of the city are not bad. They can just be blinding. Don’t settle for cheap light. Don’t settle for the city to the extent that when you are taken by your gracious Father to the wilderness, you can’t enjoy the view. Oh, what a view!
O worship the King, all glorious above,
And gratefully sing His wonderful love;
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.
O tell of His might, O sing of His grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space!
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is His path on the wings of the storm.
Thy bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light,
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.
Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail:
Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end,
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend.
Please don’t read it. Meditate on it:
“Pavilioned in splendor.” Spend ten minutes meditating on that and it’ll change the entire trajectory of your life. Dressed in a robe of light, and riding on the wings of every storm. Watchful care that is so bountiful as to be unrecitable, and so full as to distill sweetly in the dew that we go years without noticing as we hurriedly run to our next meeting, scurrying past the very manifestations of the grace that upholds us. The reality that we will never discover God to have failed. “Tender” and “firm” mercies. “To the end” mercies.
I think that Robert Grant, the author of “O Worship the King,” must have spent a lot of time reading Job. We would do well to spend as much time reading Job ourselves, because Job saw God. And he put his hand over his mouth and bowed in the dust. How little of God have we seen!
Through mind-stretching words of reality such as “pavilioned in splendor” and majestic truth such as “Thy mercies how tender,” much comfort has been given to me through the Spirit of God. He is not called “the Comforter” in vain. Indeed, the Lord takes away, and the Lord gives. Blessed be the name of the Lord. And if this deep and sober joy be the effect of the separation of the soul from its earthly comforts, then may the separation grow.
There will be a time when the tear and the separation from the world is final, and when our delight will be made whole and complete and immeasurable and pure: it’s called the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and the resurrection of the dead, and the eternal life of all those for whom Jesus Christ lived, died, and was raised. Remind yourself: eternal. And remember: life. “Behold, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5). Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.