How Long?

“Are we there yet?” — The mantra of the summer road trip.

I know I’m guilty of showing my impatience. Wishing the time away for that special moment I’ve been waiting for. But what have I missed? What has passed me by while looking so far ahead?

I’m sure you’ve also heard this motto: “Life’s a journey, not a destination”. Yes, but how do you deal with the potholes and detours and “check engine” light?

Psalm 13 speaks of another kind of waiting, longing. Four times in the first two verses Davids asks, “How long?” Pleading for God’s help. Agonizing over what seems to be abandonment. Then it’s amazing how quickly David gets to verse 5: “But…” He quickly turns to trust, rejoice, and have hope.

He knows his God will answer. He is loved by God with an everlasting love. You are loved. Our soul needs to know we are loved. Matthew Henry says it so well:

“Nothing is more killing to a soul than the want of God’s favor; nothing more reviving than the return of it.”

To be heard by God, and answered, is (should be) very humbling. The creator of all that is, listens. To me, to you. What a cause for great rejoicing! But for how long? The well-known band U2 recorded a song 40, which is loosely based on the following verses:

“I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD.” Psalms 40:1–3 NLT

The end of the song repeats the question “how long, to sing this song?” Yes, how long?

“I will sing of the LORD’s unfailing love forever! Young and old will hear of your faithfulness.” Psalms 89:1 NLT

What can you offer?

Do you have a list? Have you been checking it? Twice? My wife is really good at making lists. Lists of birthdays and anniversaries. Lists of things to do, movies to watch, CDs to buy, books to read. And around this time of year, lists of gift ideas for everyone on that first list, even herself. (Phew, thanks, that gives me an idea…)

Now on that first Christmas, the Magi brought some very unusual gifts. Full of meaning and foretelling, but practical? No. There is a joke that if the wise men had been women, they would have asked for directions, arrived on time, and brought diapers and casseroles. But really, what’s the perfect gift for the person who has everything (or made everything for that matter)?

Christmas Offering by Paul Baloche

Over the skies of Bethlehem appeared a star
While angels sang to lowly shepherds
Three wise men seeking truth traveled from afar
Hoping to find the Child from heaven
Falling on their knees they bowed
Before the humble Prince of Peace

I bring an offering of worship to my King
No one on earth deserves the praises that I sing
Jesus may You receive the honor that You’re due
O Lord I bring an offering to You
I bring an offering to You

The sun cannot compare to the glory of Your love
There is no shadow in Your presence
No mortal man would dare to stand before Your throne
Before the Holy One of heaven
It’s only by Your blood and it’s only through Your mercy
Lord I come

© 2002 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music

Here’s the Creator of all things, the Redeemer of all mankind, the Savior of the world. What can you give? What can you offer? You.

Are You Perfect?

We live in a culture today that not only calls you to look out for yourself and be who you want to be, but also gives us pretty lofty goals for us to (impossibly) attain. We’re inundated with ads that illicit covetousness; images that make us insecure with plastic, airbrushed perfection; and music and media that is so sonically accurate that you can’t find a flaw (personal preference aside, right?).

I was speaking with someone about this last one recently, in regards to music. Did you know that there is computer software out there that lets you change the pitch, timing, and tempo of individual sounds? Sound engineers can literally splice different recordings together and you can’t even tell. So just as you can’t trust the picture on the front of that magazine, how much can you trust the authentic-ness of that toe-tapping (even God-exalting) song? It can be intimidating for someone like me who practices, plays, and presents music with/for faithful worshipers each week. There is a danger and a trap of focusing on the wrong thing, perfection, instead of the Perfect One. The Psalmist in verse 33:3 calls us to play skillfully, but we are also called to do so with joy. We must have hands and hearts that are pure (Psalm 24:4).

We should strive for excellence in all that we do, whatever it is: singing, serving, parenting, studying, number-crunching, administrating, eating, driving. But it should never be done without an intentionality of service to Christ.

…whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17 NLT

But how can we do what needs to be done in a perfect, yet humble way? Through the Perfect One.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 NLT