That awkward moment when you realize you’re acting like a 5 year old because you’ve been hurt or you can’t get your way or you live in grief; the project nixed and your reputation discredited, slandered or at the minimum, marginalized….
Last night while lying in bed and praying about the day, God brought out a mirror and the reflection looking back was not very pretty. How does one truly rise above circumstances…taking flight, unfettered to soar in the clouds … to touch God’s holy and majestic face?
I remembered a little quote I read a few years ago. Just a small bit of prose that would almost fit on a post-it. But more than enough to guide this blind, mute and deaf apostate back to Gods truth.
“Great and Good Things”
It is only by thinking about great and good things that we come to love them, and its only by loving them, that we come to long for them, and its only by longing for them, that we are impelled to seek after them, and its only by seeking after them that they become ours and we enter into vital experience with their beauty and blessedness. Henry van Dyke
So what good and great things am I to refocus toward, mid-flail and amidst my pouting persona?
Honorable things… true, pure, and lovely things…
“…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8).
I love the word lovely. It is such a pretty word. It softly whispers forth with just a small flick of the tongue and yet, in the context of this scripture it doesn’t mean what we generally think it means.
Paul uses this word, but once; to his beloved Church at Philipi, the joy and crown of whom he loves and longs. (Philippians 4: 1). It is not hard to imagine why this word was used exclusively for the Philippians. They cared for Paul as no other; entering into partnership with his ministry, generously taking care of his needs and when others turned away, partook in his afflictions as a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God (Philippians 4:14-15; 2 Corinthians 11: 8-9; Philippians 4: 18) .
The Greek word for lovely is a presumed combination of two words i.e. the word pros meaning pertaining to and phileo, which means to be a friend. Together the word prosphiles, literally means friendly towards or amiable or to excite love, which is a very different meaning from our familiar mind set. Amiable things are not lovely things. Amiable things serve to cultivate and increase love, friendship, and peace among men. Amiable things also demonstrate a gratitude to God and therefore are lovely in His sight. Conversely, amiable things are in opposition to all contention, strife, wrath, and hatred.
I adore meditating on a lovely things e.g. a water-color sunset washed by the pale of twilight, a bubbling brook, a beautiful garden or a lovely mountain view with cotton-candy clouds hanging on an azure sky instead of a thankful heart, friendship and peace among men. Yet, it is much more likely in my carnal state, to dash both friend and foe alike on proverbial craggy rocks, whenever thwarted or maligned. It is obvious by my musings that I much prefer to meditate on the latter definition rather than the former.
So how do I (or we, if you also struggle as I do with the enemy within – the carnal nature), change behavior from the ‘whenever thwarted’ to ‘whatever lovely’?
We can’t! God can!
Paul tells us, “…in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
In everything, that means “in every time”… always, constantly, every day, as often as there is opportunity and need requires. Basically, when it comes down to it, it is only by seeking after ‘whatever is lovely’ will we enter into God’s beauty, goodness, and satisfaction we crave.
O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. Amen”. A.W. Tozer, “The Pursuit of God”