“But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill.” (Psalm 3:3–4, ESV)
What we believe about God will reveal itself in how we approach God. For some the emphasis of their belief in God is that he is so great, so huge, so powerful that his concern or interest in our lives is really minimal. God is so holy and different that the only thing he really sees about me is my failure and sin and so that just makes him grumpy that I’m such a rebel. Stated another way, God is so transcendent and perfect that I am just an annoyance to him because I am so finite and sinful.
The other side of the spectrum is that God is so loving, so compassionate, so merciful and kind that I can cozy up to him like my best buddy and have snuggle-time with friend Jesus. God exists to make me feel good about myself and boost my self-esteem and therefore I can just go to him and he will give me everything I could every want or desire. God is so close that he doesn’t demand or challenge me in any way because he wouldn’t want to offend me.
On the one hand people who see God’s transcendence without seeing his nearness miss the goodness of the gospel that Christ became a man and loved us. He drew near and befriended us as sinners. Those who only see the greatness of God have a hard time praying because they feel like he is Judge and Executioner before he is Father. On the other hand those who see God only as near and close and lovey-dovey fail to see the goodness of the gospel that Christ died to satisfy the rightful wrath of God upon my sin and he died to bring justice and righteousness. Prayer for a person on this side of the spectrum falls into emotional request without awe, confession, and adoration.
The Psalmist calls us to pray. “I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me. (Psalm 3:4). But he call us to pray to a God who is great and glorious as well as good and gracious. He describes God as “a shield about me” — a powerful protector, as well as a God who is “my glory.” These descriptions speak of God’s transcendence. Who can protect, who can be another’s glory? Only a greater one.
And yet the Psalmist speaks of God’s nearness as well. He is the “lifter of my head” (v. 4).
Perhaps you have struggled in praying lately, and perhaps that has more to do with your view of God than it does your schedule or ability or anything else. You are either viewing God as a great threat to your life, or a broken ATM machine that isn’t giving you the feel-goods you think you deserve. We struggle in prayer because we don’t see God rightly.
I think this is why Jesus invites and encourages us to pray to “Our Father in Heaven.” He tells us that when we pray we speak to God in terms that are both transcendent and close. As I had time to spend with my dad last week I was reminded of times when my dad corrected me, challenged me, and even disciplined me. It was all for my good. I also remember the times he encouraged, befriended, and was close to me. Good earthly fathers reflect the nearness and transcendence of our Heavenly Father to their children.
The Father gifts to us himself, so that we could come and pray to him. We are invited to go to our Heavenly Father and receive much grace in our time of need. I want to encourage you to draw near to God. To see him as great and glorious as well as good and gracious. Will you pray? Will you seek the face of the one who answers from his holy hill? Will you look to the one who sustains you? Or will you go at it on your own this week? Seek the Lord, call upon his name!
I am praying with you and for you.
This week we will conclude the Exile series in 1 Peter by looking at how we might endure together in the midst of a hostile world. The sermon text is 1 Peter 5:1-11. We’ve also created a playlist on Spotify so you can hear beforehand the songs we will be singing:
- Only King Forever
- This Is Our God
- Came To My Rescue
- Revelation Song
- Lamb of God
We’ve also been recording the sermons so if you miss any of them in this series you can listen to them on our SoundCloud page.
A Sweet Reminder
We have just a little over a week before our Trunk or Treat event on Oct 24. I hope you are planning on being part of the fun and festivities that day. We’re still asking everyone to bring candy to fill be able to give out to the kids that come to each car. Last Sunday our students and a missional community distributed five-hundred door hangers into the surrounding neighborhood to invite our community to join with us. I am praying that we can build some great relationships and see lives changed by the grace of God. If you haven’t already please bring some bagged candy this Sunday and drop it off in the “Trunk or Treat” container.
Also, ladies Saturday is the Mug & Muffin at 10am at our campus. For you men I expect to see you eat my go-kart dust at our “Grand Prix” up at JD Racing in Novi on Saturday night at 7pm. Both events are going to be a great time of building relationships, laughing, and sharing life together. I hope you will be part of the shared-life together.
I am praying that the Lord will be the one to sustain and satisfy you with himself this week. Please let me know how I can pray more specifically.