Joseph Brazil | @blackdog575
Can there be another more gut-wrenching response to a young person who’s finally worked up the nerve to profess their affection toward that special someone?
“You’re really sweet and all, but let’s just stay good friends.”
Sadly, this is much the same as when we speak to the Lord. Sure, we’ll acknowledge how He’s the creator of the universe and how there is no other name above His name, but do we really give God the respect He deserves in our prayer life?
If you’re like me, this is about how most of your prayers sound: “Dear Lord, here’s what’s happening today. Please lead me and watch over me and show me your will today. Amen.” I might even throw in a “thank you for,” or I’ll ask for an occasional “hedge of protection” around me and my family, but do I sincerely pause amid my busy life and give Him what is due?
I’ve spent a good amount of time in and with youth groups, and I still remember when asked who Jesus was to someone how flippantly the reply came: “He’s a friend who’s always there for me.”
It really hits below the belt to think of the almighty God in such a small scale.
In my article from last month, Weathering the Storm, I touched on the magnitude that is God. As I was writing it I reflected on how regularly I diminish His presence and keep Him tucked away in a little container to be opened whenever I need something or when times get tough.
What’s keeping me from observing His grandeur every day?
A few years ago, my wife had a unique assignment for a college class. She was given the task of watching the moon each night and journaling her observations. It wasn’t long before I joined her, sitting outside in the cool summer evenings staring up mesmerized at the same dark sky I normally took for granted. You can’t imagine the closeness we encountered in those moments with the Lord. We shared in conversations that would’ve easily been overlooked had we just been sitting inside in front of the TV.
Maybe it’s because we haven’t experienced Him through Biblical occurrences, such as a speaking donkey (Numbers 22:28), a burning bush (Exodus 3:1-2), or by a blinding flash of light (Acts 9). Nevertheless, with so many distractions and instant gratification at our fingertips today, we must discipline ourselves daily to give God the respect He deserves. He’s not merely a friend we can catch up with after an extended amount of leave.
When I was in college, I did my student teaching in a sophomore World History classroom. When we came to the chapter on the birth of Islam and its insertion into the Holy Land alongside Christianity and Judaism, I found myself in a discussion with my lead teacher. We had decided to approach this heavy material through a comparative lens. While the teacher opted for a more tolerant approach, how all world faiths are valid and deserve the same recognition, I countered with the fact that Christianity differs from all other world religions in that it is based upon, following the acceptance of salvation, a relationship between man and God. She kept to her belief that the Lord was just another figure piece among a pantheon of gods. She was content with God being less than who He is; a common acquaintance.
The composers of Psalm 47 perfectly describe our duty to the Lord. Read and reflect upon our obligation for rejoicing and lifting up the holiest name of all:
Clap your hands, all you nations;
shout to God with cries of joy.
For the Lord Most High is awesome,
the great King over all the earth.
He subdued nations under us,
peoples under our feet.
He chose our inheritance for us,
the pride of Jacob, whom He loved.
God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth;
sing to Him a psalm of praise.
God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on his holy throne.
The nobles of the nations assemble
as the people of the God of Abraham,
for the kings of the earth belong to God;
He is greatly exalted.
Reflect for a moment the verbiage you use when in prayer. Remember who it is you are praying to in those quiet moments. Remember you are in direct communication with the Creator of the universe, who, according to Matthew 5, considers Earth His footstool. The Lord deserves the reverence belonging to Him. Likewise, believe Him capable of great and mighty things no meager friend can compare.
Joseph Brazil is a teacher from eastern New Mexico. He enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, watching sports, and studying blues guitar. He is a student of history, and likes sharing with his wife in a good period-piece flick. You can find him on Twitter at @blackdog575.