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God is great, and yet…

Psalm 99Many humans function with the agenda of “and so…”

We have a platform, and so… we try to keep it.
We don’t have a platform, and so… we strive to find it.

We have power, and so… we use it.
We don’t have power, and so… we seek it.

Whatever we do have, we fear losing.
Whatever we don’t have, we fear not getting.

And so… we walk through our lives grasping.

God does not grasp.

He does not respond to His own greatness with the agenda of “and so…”

God responds to His greatness with the freedom of “and yet…”

God is the biggest player on the world’s stage.

The LORD reigns,
let the nations tremble;
he sits enthroned between the cherubim,
let the earth shake. –Psalm 99:1

God mighty beyond compare.

Great is the LORD in Zion;
he is exalted over all the nations. –Psalm 99:2

God is holy, set apart, in a category all His own.

Exalt the LORD our God
and worship at his footstool;
he is holy. –Psalm 99:5

Truly, He is worthy of any worship we bring to Him.

God could grasp for that worship, like a power hungry dictator looking for grovelers to validate His ego, and yet…

When we come into God’s presence, it is not a one-way interchange.

He could choose only to receive praise, and yet… He responds with care for us.

they called on the LORD
and he answered them.
He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud; -Psalm 99:6-7

God is set apart, and yet… He reaches down, answers us, and forgives us.

LORD our God,
you answered them;
you were to Israel a forgiving God –Psalm 99:8

God is holy, and yet… He forgives the sins of His people.
God is powerful, and yet… He enters this world in humility.
God is justice, and yet… He covers our misdeeds with grace.
God is great, and yet… He chooses to love.

May we learn to respond with “and yet…” instead of “and so…” in our own lives.

That was my reflection on Psalm 99. Link up with your own thoughts below. Or stop back next week with thoughts on Psalm 100. (I have almost blogged my way through 100 Psalms! Whoa.)

Singing a New Song

Psalm 98“Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done marvelous things” – Psalm 98:1

Is it even possible to sing a new song to God?

Is there anything actually new? What about that other biblical phrase, the one that says, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Eccl 1:9)

Is it really new when I sit in church and sing a popular worship song that has been sung by thousands of people across the country for the last several years? Or what about a hymn that has been sung even longer, by even more people?

What does God expect of me? Am I to write my own songs? How else could I sing something “new”?

We sing to a new song to the Lord every time we praise Him. Each and every time. Even if we use the exact same words that have been used by others for years.

Our praise is new because the moment is new.

If we believe God numbers the hairs on our heads, don’t we also believe that He delights in our moments?

When we sing the same words to the same melody at a different time in our life, it becomes a new song.

Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
    let the mountains sing together for joy; – Psalm 98:7-8

Each moment in this world, the creation is changing. New life comes. Old life dies away. Flowers bloom. Currents shift. The sun rises. The sun sets.

God is constantly breathing life into it all. He delights every time we notice.

This was my reflection on Psalm 98. Link up with your own below. Or stop back next week with thoughts on Psalm 99.

“Why have you forsaken me?”

Artist: Edvard Munch Source: WikiPaintings

Artist: Edvard Munch
Source: WikiPaintings

Is all this really necessary?
This cross? This consequence borne by Christ?

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Things are not that bad.
Are they?

We can only grasp a fraction
Of the immense weight
Crashing down upon Jesus
That day.

The unimaginable burden
Of not only our individual misdeeds
Or our personal omissions,
But the iniquities
And atrocities
Of generation
upon generation
upon generation.
The entirety of wickedness
Since evil invaded the world.

The sin of human history
Creating a distance beyond our understanding.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Christ is forsaken.
Dropped in the chasm
Of overflowing corpses.
The bodies of those who have been massacred.
The hundreds murdered every day.
Every day.
For years stacked upon decades stacked upon centuries.

Christ is forsaken.
Adrift in the gulf
Of echoing wails.
The cries of those sexually assaulted.
Every two minutes.
And over
And over again.
Shrieking in their violation and pain.

Christ is forsaken.
Standing in the abyss
Between oppressor and oppressed.
Taking the beatings of the millions,
Who have been
And are
And will be
Imprisoned, exploited, and enslaved.

Christ is forsaken.
Experiencing the void
Of lost generations.
Entire people groups wiped out
When neighbor turns against neighbor
When former friends slaughter one another
As nations collapse into genocide.

It’s too much.
It’s all too much.

Too much for us to hold.
Too vast for us to grasp.

This is the great burden borne by Christ.
Taking iniquities beyond imagination
Upon the only shoulders broad enough to carry them
And loving enough to be crushed by their weight.

From the chasm of evil,
For the sake of humanity,
Jesus cries out,
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

This is another reflection I wrote for my church’s Good Friday service. In honor of this day of waiting, as we sit in the waiting space before the resurrection, it feels appropriate to continue pondering Christ’s death. I hope it helps you do that today.

“I am thirsty.”

“I am thirsty,” is a most ordinary phrase.
For to thirst
Is to be human.


Artist: Eugene Delacroix Source: WikiPaintings

Jesus is human.
The only human to ever be so by choice.
Human at a time the rest of us would have chosen
Any other path than the one He walked.

For to be fully human
Is to fully experience
The agony of it all.

Jesus declares, “I am thirsty.”

Did His thirst begin in the garden the night before?
When His heart broke into tears
And His mouth filled with the bitter taste of betrayal.
When the kiss of a friend
Was used to stab Him in the back.

How parched did His mouth become
as the night dragged on with accusations?
When His tongue waited
And restrained itself from words of defense.
When the only water offered to Him
Was the spit spattered across His face.

How dry was His throat
When His lips were up against that post
and the liquid ran red from His back?
When the metal ends of a whip
Ripped through His flesh
And again
And again
And again.

Was there any water left for His tears
When thorns pierced His brow?
When blow
After blow
After blow
Drove the sign of the curse
Deeper and deeper
Into the only head capable of bearing its burden.

How did He long for relief
When the heavy weight of that wooden beam
Was placed upon His cracked-open shoulders?
When nails went through His wrists
And pain shot like lightning up His arms.
When His knees were forced outward
So His feet could be hammered like a piece of lumber.

How did Jesus feel His frailty,
When He was hung
Upon that appalling tree?
When He chose to be human
In the midst of public humiliation
And unimaginable suffering.

How did He gasp and sputter
As His body reached for the life that was being drained from it?
When His arms pulled out from their joints
And pushed His lungs to the point of collapse.
When the One who breathed the earth into being
Struggled now to simply exhale.

Labored breathing.
Excruciating pain.
Agonizing thirst.

As God,
Jesus could have blocked the torture,
Pushed away the suffering,
Stopped the death.
As human,
Jesus chose to face the torment,
Endure the anguish,
Experience the death.

“I am thirsty.”
This was Jesus’ declaration of humanity
And His demonstration of love.

I wrote this reflection for the Good Friday service at my church. In honor of the day, I also wanted to share it with you here. 

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