One thing I’ve been finding it impossible to do is to take glory for something that God has done. You might think this is an obvious assertion to make but in our prideful nature it isn’t hard for us to conceive of constantly elevating ourselves above His.
I’m sure there are moments when we declare: if it was not for me such and such would have never been done. I built this church, I won this competition, I made this happen. But as astronomer Carl Sagan puts it: if you want to make apple pie from scratch you must first invent the universe. We have already been equipped in the now with tools that He created from scratch.
In that event, He has literally done everything anyway. We as living, breathing dust merely facilitate things. That’s why people thank God for things, even the small meaningless ones. Because in a series of events that seem like misfires and coincidence, there is some genius pulling it all together. There is some master peering into the fullness of my heart and seeing who I am and revealing it to me as He has written it there. There is some megaphone, giving me words to speak and filling my mouth to say them and propelling me forward with boldness towards utterance.
There is a force I want to be with me always.
Because when I’m empty, He keeps pouring. When I see no doors, He cuts holes in the wall. When I have no ability, He accelerates things supernaturally. And grace, great grace He gives and gives and gives again. So I know when I’m at my wit’s end who is doing the butter churning in the back of the situation to make things happen: to make a way.
So that when the impossible reveals itself and they ask how? And you ask how? You are only able to point in one direction and it is often not to yourself. It’s unto Him.
This of course steadily heightens the level of expectation because I know what I will do, I know what I want to do. But who knows what God is doing? Always something outside of our immediate imagination. And that takes all the pressure off. The same way we direct glory to Him, the same way we direct expectation and performance to Him. We are only vessels participating in the work He is beginning and ending and how gleeful we should be to be a part.
I grew up rehearsing this scripture stretched before me on the front wall of my home church and it said:
Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake. (Ps. 115. 1 KJV)
Another translation says: We don’t deserve praise! The LORD alone deserves all of the praise, because of his love and faithfulness. (CEV)