Praising With a Purpose
As my time in Romania is coming to an end, I have been trying to figure out where God would have me go next. Yesterday, I was frustrated because I feel like I haven't had any clarity or direction. So, this morning I went to finish a sermon by Levi Lusko that I was watching on youtube, but I couldn't find the one I was in the middle of. Kind of annoyed, I just picked another one and had my mind blown! I don't know where God hid that other sermon in the depths of youtube, but it wasn't the truth He wanted me to hear this morning apparently. My brother-in-law recently introduced me to Levi Lusko's teaching and I really like his ability to get to the core of a scripture, which is exactly what he does in this teaching!
I've always liked the story of Isaiah's calling, found in Isaiah chapter 6. The setting paints a beautiful scene of the throne of God, and Isaiah's response of "Here I am, send me." has become iconic. But Levi shed a new light on this story that I've never seen, and gave me some sweet wisdom for how to return back home.
This story starts with the setting in which king Uzziah had just died. He was one of the few good kings over Israel, reigning for 52 years, so he brought much peace and prosperity to the people. His best decision was that he chose to "Seek God", and God blessed the people because of the orientation of king's life. Since Isaiah was the country's prophet, losing such a king was a big blow. He could have been filled with fear about what may be coming, wondering who the next leader was going to be, or fearing the threats of other countries. But in the middle of this dark moment, the king's death, God sent a revelation to give perspective to Isaiah.
Above him were the Seraphim, each with six wings: with two they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is filled with your glory." At the sound of their voices the door posts and the thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
- Isaiah 6:3-4
The Sheraphim are burning angels, who in this scene are flying around the throne of God. Two things make this picture especially beautiful to me. The first is their position of praise and surrender. They have 6 wings and four of them were used to humble themselves before God and only two were used to actually fly. For us, that means 2 thirds of our energy should go toward surrendering ourselves before God. The last third is for actually working for God. The effectiveness and power from our work, comes from the surrender and praise of God. Praise lends to power, not the other way around. There are so many times when I feel like I'm just going around in circles and nothing I am doing is helping anyone. I think this is absolutely why! Praising God and working because of His goodness isn't the way I was orienting my heart.
The second important part of this scene is what moved these Serephim to worship. They were flying around the throne of God with their faces covered, so they may not have even seen God's face. Yet just being close to His presence kept revealing new things about His character to them, which resulted in their praise of Him to each other. How amazing is that?! They have been praising Him forever, and we will join them one day praising him for eternity but we will continue to see new things that blow our minds! We will never run out of things to praise God about. Worship happens because when we really see just some of who God is, we can't help it. He is that big, that good, and that holy!
The next thing Levi said about this very element of God on the throne, is this: "God doesn't become less if we quit praising Him, but we don't get to become who we were meant to be, because we become what we worship." Let that soak in... it's like prayer, we don't do it because God needs it, but rather because we do.
Life here isn't easy; there is pain, brokenness, grief, and discouragement everywhere. The intention of praise isn't about how I feel right now, or how easy my current situation may be. Praise should happen because I'm learning more about who God is and I have no other response. And the cool thing about living like that is that my feelings about life will change, because I praise God.
"I think we delight to praise what we enjoy, because the praise not only expresses but completes the enjoyment. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep telling each other how beautiful they are. The delight is incomplete until it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and to not be able to tell anyone how good he is. And to come to the turn of some valley of unexpected grandeur and then have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than a tin can in a ditch...fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, He is inviting us to enjoy Him." - C.S. Lewis
So, Isaiah witnessed pure worship of God on His throne, felt his inadequacies, was redeemed and had one reaction: Surrender. He didn't come before God with words or a beautiful ministry plan, he only spoke of his own unworthiness to be standing before God. After God showed him grace and great favor, He asked who would serve Him. I can't even imagine what that must have been like, but standing before God's greatness, Isaiah only had one response. "Here I am, send me."
What greater expression of worship can we give to a God this holy, but to offer Him our lives? My prayer is to show true praise to the Giver of dreams, the God of missions instead of skipping Him to just follow the dream.
Let your praise matter,