Thursday, September 16, 2010

Glory, Declared

God does some of his best work at sunrise, and he never says a word about it. Each morning the heavens declare the glory of God without the benefit of advertising, hype, or self promotion.

The heavens declare the glory of God; 
       the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
 Day after day they pour forth speech;
       night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
       where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
       their words to the ends of the world.
       In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
       like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
 It rises at one end of the heavens
       and makes its circuit to the other;
       nothing is hidden from its heat. (Psalm 19: 1-6)

There are those who say, "Good morning, Lord!" while others say, "Good Lord, it's morning!" His mercies are available to both groups, but only one group will see his glory.

In the past few days I’ve been thinking about the voice of God, ever since my friend Andrea said, “In the past I loved his words, now I love his voice.” I’ve tried to go about the business of the day while still tuning my ear to hear his voice. I’ve discovered what Psalm 19 has been trying to say all along: it’s God’s nature to speak, and his voice is in all the earth.

Daybreak is only one example: daybreak, spectacular and quiet. Like the resurrection. We are reminded each day that God delights in new possibilities. Each morning the message comes again: because of his great love we are not consumed, his mercies are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Dawn differs from daybreak, and his voice speaks again: the transition from night to day is subtle and occurs over time. Dawn is process, not an event. The hope of transformation is displayed each day, reminding us that coming alive in Jesus Christ is not like flipping a light switch, but rather like the coming of the sun. “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” (Proverbs 4:18)

Nor does he stop speaking just because the day is begun. King David saw the sun trace across the sky, felt its warmth on his face, and heard the voice of God. His voice engages all the senses.  By his light we not only see, we can actually feel the warmth of his love. It can grow into a blaze of glory.

Once we come alive to the sound of his voice in the earth, we discover it everywhere. My friend Adam heard the sound of the Spirit as he planted flowers: he stopped for just a moment, felt the breeze on his neck and heard the its sound in the leaves. To be aware of the breeze is to be aware of his presence. It's a matter of training ourselves to take notice. 

The voice of God is available to everyone. The heavens encircle the earth. All of humankind is included. Each of us can see his works. Rich and poor alike can see the sunrise or sunset. Rich and poor alike can ignore the majesty as well. The heavens encircle the earth, enabling people of every tribe and tongue to discover his goodness. He speaks without language to the hearts of men. Children are attuned to the wonder; the busy-ness of adults drowns the still small voice.

Nor does he speak only in the day. Once my ear was attuned I found myself worshipping God under the night sky. I heard the silent speech of the stars. The still of the night is vibrant with his presence. There’s a difference between God’s greatness and his love. Some people are impressed by God’s power and might, the wise fall down in worship at the realization of his love. The sight of a single star in the evening is enough to provoke awe at God’s greatness. A sky filled with stars declares his unfailing love.

I went to bed that night, unaware his voice was even yet still speaking, “He gives to his beloved even in their sleep.”

My prayer the next morning became, “Lord, let me love your voice.”

The Windhover  (Gerard Manley Hopkins)

 I CAUGHT this morning morning’s minion, king-
  dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
  Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
  As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
  Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
  Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

  No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
  Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

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