It was a churning down deep, in the place where desires and plans are lodged. Something was displaced. Something hadn’t gone as planed. I had it all figured out, calculated just right…I knew what God should do–but then He didn’t. The feeling of divine disapproval lurched into my throat.
Why is it when plans fall through we feel as though Gods love has too? Like His steadfast love is as sturdy as an ice covered lake in late March.
The feeling in my gut-wasn’t Gods disapproval. It was my disapproval of God. I had set a plan and He didn’t follow through-so now I was on the brink of despair.
Pride isn’t only seen in arrogance it’s seen in the causal ways we try and take control from the King of the earth.
Many times, our dreams, our callings, our plans, hold so much influence over our lives because they are staked on our pride. We want what we want, not necessarily what Christ wants. We do as we please, and demand God does the same. Pride says we know best. We have the solution for the family’s problem, for our friends marriage, and even for the nation. We know what’s best for our children. After all “mother knows best.” We have a checklist and we demand providence to bow to it. Pride forces our plans on providence and as a result we bear the weight.
The irony of the kingdom is when we release what we are holding onto, we receive what Christ is holding out for us. We do not remain empty handed. It is only through empty hands that we will find true fulfillment.
This doesn’t mean we will hate where God leads, it is just the opposite—if we surrender than all our dreams come true. When we release them to the heavenlies, then God releases His in return. It’s a grand exchange we cannot afford to miss. But pride will and has cost millions of Christ followers to die without releasing any glory on earth—all because they sought their dream instead of the Dream Maker. Pride will tell us our way is better. Our hearts will pull and plunge within our chest at the thought of going a different route. It seems irrational and impossible to go that way. Denying our own plans for our lives, for the lives of our children, is never easy—pride cements our plans into our hearts. Humility releases them.
Glory is never released in the proud. In fact, God stiff-arms those who trust in their own ways. Pride disarms our purpose, for without glory there is no distinguishing quality about us. For example, when Moses was praying for the nation of Israel to go to the promise land in Exodus 33, he told the Lord that without His presence he didn’t even want to go “for what will distinguish us from all the peoples of the earth.”. After that prayer, Moses asked to see God’s glory. He knew that without glory we are nothing; we look the same, act the same, make the same choices…. nothing is different without it, we blend into society and in doing so leave no mark. We will never make a difference without being different. The difference we need is the mark of God’s presence; His glory.
Glory takes many forms. In the Old Testament, it was when the manifest presence of God would fell onto someone/thing. It is when God reveals Himself in or to someone. The heaviness of His presence would encase the common, transfusing splendor to the mundane.
The same happens to us when we are wrapped in His presence. Glory is proclaimed through our week vessels. Psalm 16: 5-11 displays this perfectly:
5LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. 6The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. 7I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. 8I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 9Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. 11You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
I am not convinced that there is anything that translates the pleasure of God onto one’s life like joy in the midst of suffering. We’ve already talked about the sabbatical joy, the rest that comes from surrender to God’s plan. But let’s look a little closer. Look at verse 5, the Lord was the psalmist portion-nothing else. No dreams. No ambitions. Nothing held a candle to the presence of God. The problem for most of us is we are lacking joy because we are drinking from the wrong cup. When it is saying the Lord is our portion, it is referring to the allotment of inheritance. Our portion in not merely a sliver of land, it is the Lord Himself. Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:3, that we have been blessed with every heavenly blessing in Christ. This means that everything that Christ represents has been given to us. Since we are now brought into Christ by His sacrifice, the boundaries of our inheritance now lie within the limitless boarders of Christ Himself! He is our inheritance. If we settle for anything else then we have cheated ourselves. You see many of us dream in order to find significance. We dream because we feel like the lot we have is insignificant, and lacking. We plan to keep things under control. We feel less than so we chase after something that offers us importance. The news of the gospel informs us that we no longer have to chase significance- He has chased us and clothed us in it! We will always lack joy when we are drinking from the wrong “cup”, when we go outside our “portion” to find significance. We do this anytime we set anything before us besides the Lord. David had one direction- to get closer to the Lord, to know Him more. That’s the key to unleashing glory on our lives; setting the Lord always before us. Because then our future, our presence, and our past will be steeped in the glory of His presence. If He is always before us, then we never outrun His glory. The Hebrew word for “Set before” is shavah and means among others things, “to agree with”. You see when we set the Lord before us, we are agreeing by submission to His will. It is when our dreams agree with His. Sometimes that is the greatest sacrifice we can give; when we look to nothing else, forsaking all other outlets, taking the pleasure of the Lord over the pleasure of the world. This glory of God that clothes the throne room of heaven,where God is ruling, is the same glory that infuses every heart that becomes His throne.
If we do this, set the Lord continually before us, then we will find joy that transcends our circumstances. Joy that cannot be shaken by anything of this world-because it is not anchored in this world. It is laid beyond the veil, in the heavenlies, at the throne. When the throne is our landing place, we will find our lives lodged in glory for “in your presence there is fulness of joy, at your right hand there are pleasures forever more.”. A life filled with glory, is a life filled with joy-because we have taken from the Cup and are not found lacking. We may suffer but we are not sinking. We may be poor but we are indeed rich. We may be hungry, yet full. We may be seemingly insignificant, but we are famous in the eyes of our God. Wherever His presence is, nothing remains empty or lacking. His presence is the stuff dreams are made of.
Maybe we lack glory because our plans leave no room for God. But what if we left them blank, leaving a margin? Miracles happen in the margin; where God is given space to write His own story. In the openness of surrender, God uses the white lines to be a witness of glory. Many times when we find ourselves struggling for joy, it is because we have set our plans before us-and when we miss the mark on our check list we spiral into despair. To have the Lord always before us is to live expectantly, not frivolously. To live on purpose for a purpose. Most of our plans are frivolous, we use them as a leverage for control, that’s it. The irony is the gospel teaches that the ones who maintain control never find abundance. For Jesus said “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for my sake you will find it.” (Matthew 10:39)
Our need for control is locking out the bounty of the kingdom. We have safe guarded ourselves from the purpose and privilege of the kingdom. Expectancy and surrender go hand in hand. We expect little of God, not because we think He is unable but because we are unwilling to let go. Expectancy isn’t being spontaneous, its being faithful. Its when we are not anchored in our plans but in the throne,not in our plans but in providence. We can rest, laying our checklist aside, because providence promises we will never be abandoned. That the path of life is paved for us in the shawdow of the throne.
How about we let our calenders be glory releasers instead of suppressors?