Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Will God Receive the Glory?

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops (James 5:16-18)
This post is a thank you and a question.

First, THANK YOU so very much to all of those out there who prayed for the Caribbean, Grand Cayman, and First Baptist Church as hurricane Dean twisted its way through our region. We heard from many people and churches that they were or would be praying, and we are greatly humbled and thankful at that tangible expression of love, lifting us up before our Father and yours.

Apparently there is an Elijah in the land... for the Lord heard the prayers of His people and turned the storm south such that we received some tropical storm winds and very little rain or flooding. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. And many people on the island are grateful to the Lord.

Which brings me to my question: will God receive glory for the great things He has done in this storm?

I know He will eternally. And I know many will exalt Him in the days and weeks ahead. But how many will cover over His work--first in creating the storm, and second in turning the waters whichever way He pleases?

I suspect many will. And I've noticed already the tendency in myself. It's not an outright rejection of God or denial in some hostile way. It's the more subtle, practical atheism that fails to give Him praise or speaks in that empty God-talk that those who don't know Him practice.

So, I've heard folks say, "I'm glad the storm turned," as though by naming the storm "Dean" it takes on personhood and rational ability. Others have commented, "We were spared," as though some disembodied cosmic judge showed mercy. Then there are those who say, "We missed a big one," as if we were somehow steering the island out of the storm's course. There is the idolatrous variety that admits to God, but insists, "We just needed to touch and agree and demand by that God would move the storm."

I think we all mean well with comments like this. But they strike me as missing the mark, that is, missing God himself.

The sentences are economical; they're brief. But I wonder if we ought not be longer-winded in these opportunities to ascribe greatness to God. Or, at least, we should sharpen the point by speaking of Jesus so that our hearers are not left guessing which God we believe has heard our prayers and answered.

So, we might say something like, "Jesus spared us." Then we can go on to say, "You know, though we felt spared by Christ, one day we all will appear before Him to give an account for our lives on earth. Are you taken as many precautions for that Day as you did for the day "Dean" blew by?"

Or, we could say, "God the Father turned this storm away from us. I'm thankful I have a heavenly Father who hears the cries of His people and answers according to His good pleasure."

I'm not sure what to do with our Word-of-Faith friends naming and claiming, demanding and standing on certain promises from God. Perhaps the best thing in that case is to simply be quiet lest we hold up an idol of our making before people who need to see the living God.
In any case, I'm reminded that I need to speak of the wonders of God more frequently and with greater specificity than I have. I need to resist conversational shorthand, perhaps taking a pass on some comments altogether, and speak more carefully of God with the hopes of being sure He gets all the glory.
The island is resuming its pre-storm hum. Things are quickly back to "normal"? Please pray that "normal" life among us is not a life that fails to exalt and exult in the God who saves us.

1 comment:

LouLove said...

Brother T:
I thank God for steering the storm past you, your family and the people of FBC and for all others on your island who were spared, Acts 27:24.

As I was reading your post, I thought of Psalm 119:17. I have been meditating on that verse for the last several days. If you have Manton on Psalm 119 read his take on verse 17 (it's long of course).

Again, thank God for His lovingkindness toward you and all whow know you so that we would not have sorrow upon sorrow.