Whenever I don’t have a chapter book or novel to read, I flip to a selection in Eugene Peterson’s “As Kingfishers Catch Fire.” It’s a collection of one pastor’s encouraging sermons from over 30 years in the pulpit.
There is a chapter entitled “Father, Glorify Thy Name” which includes many truths. These words articulate Jesus’ shortest prayer, recorded in the Gospel of John: “Father, bring glory to your name.” (John 12:28, NLT).
It may be a short prayer, but it is a powerful prayer. Peterson says praying, for us as it was for Jesus, is like breathing. “If we are to live, we all have to do it… it is woven into the fabric of life.”
I believe this is a season when we will all rise, but only as we first kneel.
Many have found a new voice of prayer during this season. That is wonderful! I even saw a news clip from MSNBC where the host asked his guest, Pastor T.D. Jakes, to offer a prayer for the Nation. I was a TV news anchor and reporter at one time and under “normal” circumstances that would never happen. Yet here we are! For 30 seconds as the pastor prayed, news anchor Craig Melvin bowed his head and affirmed the petition with his own “Amen.” Isn’t that encouraging? God is gracious. Many are lifting an eye towards heaven and seeking God’s peace, His calm, His healing, His protection. Keep it up! Thank you for breathing. Thank you for praying.
I believe this is a season when we will all rise, but only as we first kneel. I can’t help but recall an often quoted scripture from the Old Testament: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV).
And the glory of God? Paradoxically, it’s not more. It’s less. Peterson says Jesus redefines glory. “The glory with which Jesus is glorified is not inspirational… It is not glamorous.” It is not a beautiful sunrise, although through our eyes it is. No, in God’s eyes, it is first an agonizing cross. “Obscurity, rejection, a sacrificial life, an obedient death.”
Seeds must die and be buried before there is new life. It might be said that the world is dying right now. There is irony in seeing gorgeous spring cherry blossoms and daffodils and redbuds in full bloom as we suffer through a physical, virus-driven fall and winter for humankind. Yet there will be a morning when our life will spring forth again! We can trust the Creator to be glorified in the new life that always follows death.
Peterson notes that the Son must die so that the Son, and the Father, and the Spirit, are glorified. Will you join me in earnestly praying that we will all see the Glory of God during this season? Jesus describes it this way:
“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.” (John 12:24-25, MSG).
We are to let go of our life – we are to die – so that we might save it and live.
Jesus’ final words in this scene? “My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going. Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.” (John 12:35, NLT)
We can trust the Light to shine. We can! Light is key in the cycle of death to germination to regeneration to birth. In the Light, we will all find life.
One final note on the importance of light, from the book of Revelation where John describes heaven: “The City doesn’t need sun or moon for light. God’s Glory is its light, the Lamb its lamp!” (Revelation 21:23, MSG).
A simple, yet powerful prayer for this season? “Shine on, Jesus! Shine!”
(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.
As Kingfishers Catch Fire, by Eugene H. Peterson, (c) 2017, WaterBrook.