The praise of God
Thursday, April 3, 2003
Jesus is speaking,
37) ”And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form,
38) nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.
39) ”You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me,
40) yet you refuse to come to me to have life. …
44) ”How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?”
Last week in Kentucky’s Audubon State Park we saw a majestic white oak tree. It swept us up into its branches, a hundred feet tall, eighty feet wide. Years ago when our children were small, we first encountered this tree. We took pictures of the kids all over it, picture after picture, not wanting to forget.
Now we returned, with one pretty grown-up kid still hanging around with us, to the same tree, the same awe, the same peace that passes understanding just to sit under it and look up through the branches into the sky. The sky was very blue, the air warm, the bugs still dormant.
This tree and its brothers are only the beginning of God’s exclamation, “I am!” His explanation starts with creation, continues with the “Word” he gives us, comes to completion in the person of Jesus. “I am!”
Jesus speaks in anger, one you-message after another. The last one cuts through me; I must give up seeking some other’s praise, settling for self-righteous agreement, and reach up for the praise of God.
The effort Jesus speaks of has nothing to do with good works; it’s about worship and caring for nothing but God-at-the-center, struggling to continue the hard work of removing myself from the center and putting Him back where He belongs.
Our white oak is effortlessly majestic because it knows its place and seeks nothing more; Jesus knows his, and he knows we must find ours too. As I settle into this sweet and comfortable place I can finally hear the praise … of God.
Lord, from crocus to oak to man, we are all yours, Lord. Let me find my home and see you clearly from it.