A Good Reason to Sing, guest blogger Paul Biebel
Lately I have been meditating on the subject of our “calling.” I’m not sure why I seem stalled out on this subject but after spending several weeks on it in my devotions, I can do nothing but conclude that being called unto Christ is the highest blessing that can be poured upon a mortal man by a sovereign and eternal God. Even the slightest comprehension of His divine choosing of me, rather than my neighbor, chases away the cares and anxieties of this world. If only such bliss could be my first thought each day before I fly out of bed and rush off to accomplish all I have in mind to do. How much better would we be if we paused and let God greet our first thought of the day with promises of the gospel, reminding us that we are His children and that nothing can pluck us out of His hand.
As I ponder my adoption it produces the divine fruit of humility. It reminds me how helpless I am to have received such an undeserved gesture. It also ignites in me a desire to keep my love for the Lord focused in purity and simplicity. I am humbled when I compare to how little affection I have expressed toward “Him” in return.
It’s not that I am slothful in my spiritual obligations but sometimes I find myself caught up in the processes of performing for God as if duty and obligation alone are all that He wants. The hardscrabble of life can take its toll if I allow it to. There always seem to be wave after wave of perplexing uncertainties vying to distract my eyes from being fixed on my hope in Christ.
If faithfulness to His tasks was the only purpose for my existence, then a relationship with the Holy Father would only center on my inheritance (my reward) rather than on the One who has adopted me into His family. Such service may have an acceptable shape and form to others around me. It might look good, and active, and faithful and sacrificial on the outside. They might even praise me for it. I could please my church leaders who watch over me, and even impress my fellow believers. But without affection for my Savior, it would all just feel like a sterile, cold and lifeless religion on the inside–certainly not the relationship with God that I long for (and read about).
Thank God that He is patient. He knows that in order to experience His fullness of joy in our soul, we must first be content with just loving Him. When we finally do, our affections grow hotter for Him and colder to the world and as a result, our countenance brightens. There is a line in the old Christmas hymn, “O Holy Night” that speaks of a moment when the “soul felt its worth.” I really like that line, especially after having lived through several decades of questioning the validity of what is called “self esteem.” But here, the hymn writer speaks of a moment of freedom in the soul when he comes to feel some sense of worth and purpose; the worth of not just any earthly creature, but of an image bearer of God; the kind of worth that compelled a Holy and Righteous God to send His only Son to take his sins upon Himself and settle once and for all that we matter to Him. This sense of worth in one’s own soul is an acceptable one, because it finds its definition in our nature as God’s image bearer, and finds its energy in a Spirit-driven gratitude and desire to Glorify God and worship Him.
This morning, I was reading a book written by Thomas Watson, who by the way is not the famous golfer. Mr. Watson was a 17th century minister whose writings were published in 1663 after he and several thousand other ministers were exposed to severe hardships and sufferings placed upon them by the Church of England because of their faithfulness to the gospel. What impresses me is how Watson maintained and even increased in his joy and affection for the Savior during that trying time.
He writes on why we sing:
“ … that God should pass over so many, that He should pass by the wise and noble, and that the lot of free-grace should fall upon you! That He should take you out of a state of vassalage, from grinding the devil’s mill, and should set you above the princes of the earth, and call you to inherit the throne of glory! Fall upon your knees, break forth into a thankful triumph of praise; let your hearts be ten-stringed instruments, to sound forth the memorial of God’s mercy. None so deep in debt to free grace as you, of thanksgiving. Say to the sweet singer; ‘I will extol thee, and I will praise thy name forever’ (Psa 145.1,2). Those who are patterns of mercy should be trumpets of praise. O long to be in heaven, where your thanksgiving shall be purer and shall be raised a note even higher!”
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