Now We’ll See What God Can Do!

My grandmother told me once that a relative of hers would go to prayer when there was an insurmountable obstacle in her life—something important that was lost, some need that emerged, a situation that could not be humanly resolved. Then, after praying, she would look up and say, “Now we’ll see what God can do!”

In Scripture we are told that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are his ways our ways. He sees the big picture, but we only see what is directly in front of us. We ask for something to be fixed, and he does something altogether unexpected and different. Not what we ask for always, but something that takes us further on the journey God has intended for us.

Relinquishing our own vision of what needs to happen is key. Otherwise you can completely miss the hand of God, or even shun it. I am seeing this so clearly in my life these days. We can rattle door handles at times, yearning for an answer to our pleas,  looking around for that open door or the next step, maybe even take off in a direction, only to learn that God had something else entirely.

More than anything else, I have found freedom in relinquishing human goals in exchange for what God has for that moment, however humble. Chafing and casting around constantly is not peaceful, and it isn’t productive. That’s because it’s too much of us, and not enough of Christ. As we take on whatever tasks God brings before us, however different from our human ideas, we can stop wasting energy, time and emotion. It’s called contentment.

The work we often vest with so much importance in our thinking can not only be the least important for our souls, but can serve as an obstacle to the deeper heart work God has for us. There’s a time to charge ahead with something, and there’s a time to step back. Failure to do this results in a great poverty of the soul that manifests in bad fruit in our lives. We can become brittle, impatient, prideful and defensive.

I am convinced that when we embrace contentedness and quiet, even in the face of what appears to be insurmountable difficulties, God will act. What He does in our lives may surprise us. I’ve learned that some of God’s richest gifts often come in strange-looking packages (tied up with string, as the song goes), but if He is truly sovereign, as His Word unmistakably declares, we can accept and even embrace those packages delivered to our door.

Today I am faced with a couple of exciting new packages in life! As my forebear said it so well years ago, “Now we’ll see what God can do!

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

– Isaiah 55:8-9

Now to him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

– Ephesians 3:20-21

Hail, Gladdening Light!

gladdening-light.jpgThis weekend I got a chance to listen to a CD that was given to me some time ago. I had never had the chance to listen to it until now. It contained what scholars believe to be the oldest hymn on record (150 A.D.) in the Christian church that has survived complete, “Hail, Gladdening Light”. This Greek hymn was not sung in congregations, but rather by Christians at home when they would light their oil lamps at sunset. It is a hymn of praise to the Trinity, but emphasizes Christ, the Light of the World. The English translation, like the original, is not written metrically so it could not be put to an ordinary hymn tune, but instead uses a chant setting. (This means that because certain lines are longer than others, the extra words are sung on the same note until the line is complete.)

I told my son that whenever we turn our lamps on at night, we can remember these early Christians who lit their lamps to light their homes and sang this hymn to the Light of the World. These words of praise can be learned today.

Hail, gladdening Light, of his pure glory poured,
who is immortal Father, heavenly blest;
Holiest of Holies, Jesus Christ our Lord!

Now are we come to the sun’s hour of rest;
the lights of evening round us shine,
we hymn the Father, Son and Holy Spirit divine.

Worthiest art thou at all times to be sung,
with undefilèd tongue,
Son of our God, Giver of life, alone!
Therefore in all the world thy glories, Lord, they own.

If you would like to hear how this sounds to the hymn tune written by John Stainer in the 19th century, click here where it is on CD. There is an audio sample of the first minute of this hymn–cut number 4. This entire CD is superb, by the way, if you’re looking for a great hymn collection.