Let all the earth fear the LORD;

Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!

Psalm 33: 8

 

Growing up involves a process in which we are granted progressively more and greater permission. Early in life people need to ask others, usually parents, for permission to do almost everything from the most basic of activities such as eating and drinking to the more complex ones like visiting a neighbor or purchasing clothing. Over time, with maturity and the growth of personal capacity, this need to seek permission becomes less and less prevalent and each of us becomes responsible for making these decisions on our own. So, when the writer of this psalm speaks in terms that suggest permission and restraint when it comes to engagement with God, exactly who is doing those things?

 

Although there are voices around us that speak in negative terms regarding God and who hold up faith in Him to ridicule, these people are not exercising control over anyone. In some places, open expression of belief in Christ is dangerous or at least it is strongly opposed, but these places are rather rare, and it is still possible to believe in Christ in the darkest of these cultures. Then there is personal choice, a desire to seem popular and current, and a prideful unwillingness to surrender or to yield to the authority of another, and I believe that reasons like this are the primary ones that restrain us from following the direction in this psalm. This is true when the faith is at the fundamental level of acceptance of Christ, and it is also true when that faith is being exercised by people who claim to follow the Lord but still choose to submit to Him and to His Word on a selective basis.

 

So, it would seem that the only permission we need to engage fully in a relationship with God is granted by ourselves; thus, the restraint that comes into play here is also self-generated. The Lord does not place restrictions or limits on His involvement with people, and He does not reject us when we seek to turn to Him. We hold back, and we restrain ourselves and those around us from full-on surrender to Christ. There is no other factor or force that is stopping each of us from open and continual worship of the Lord. You and I can grant ourselves permission to make this day one in which we truly stand in awe, amazement, and reverent, hands-held-on-high expression of the joy that comes by and through the reality of Christ in our lives. Thus, I grant myself permission to live out this day as one where my head is held up and my voice sings out praises to Christ’s love and wherein my actions portray the grace that He has granted to me.

 

 

Let all the earth fear the Lord;

Let all of the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!

Psalm 33: 8

 

If I were to state the singular answer to all that is wrong in our world today, this verse might be it. Yet, desiring that all of the people of our world would know, reverence and follow Christ seems like far too much to hope and to dream for. As I consider this highly unlikely possibility I feel something like what Don Quixote must have felt as he sang The Impossible Dream (The Quest) in the play Man of La Mancha. You see if I choose to take up the Lord’s challenge and enter into the journey that perusing this dream requires, then this wreck of a life that is mine and this pile of rusty armor lying in a jumble at my feet seems wholly inadequate to the task.

 

Yet, in some ways that is the point. My gifts, skills, and ability are not what will bring this sort of response to our Lord from the hearts of others. Christ does this. What He does want from us is that we would pick up the tools that He has granted to us and remove the rust, smooth out the dents, and put it to use for the glory of the Kingdom of God. As I prepare for my journey it is important for me to realize that the greatest among all of the things that God has granted to me is love. This is the primary weapon that the Lord would have me use in this quest. When love fuels my passion, it is Christ who speaks. His love seeks to embrace and not destroy.

 

As we journey forth in love, the heart of Christ surrounds us, and it is out of that context that we can speak God’s truth clearly and without compromise. When we embrace Christ and turn to Him for all of our strength, capacity, and direction, the sort of love that drives the relentless shepherd in His search for the lost one can become our source of energy and focus. This is the nature of the crusade that Christ would have His people join. He calls us to be uncompromisingly true to His word and unrelentingly loving as we proclaim it. So, this is how the world can come to this place of reverence, respect and sheer awe, for as they know Christ, they can choose to accept Him and enter into the peace of His loving grace.