Thanksgiving and Praise
Back at the keyboard again and focused on the book Judah: The Journey to Delight, after a break for Thanksgiving Day. Why the title? Judah means praise: “She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah…” Gen 29:35 (NIV). Thanksgiving and praise are becoming more a part of where my heart seems to be going of late as I head toward my season of Delight, the final leg of my Christian discipleship. This time in my life I will not only serve the Lord publically, I will also praise Him openly.
“I will enter his gates with Thanksgiving in my heart I will enter his courts with praise I will say this is the day that the Lord had made I will rejoice for he has made me glad.” So goes the chorus from Maranatha Music , taken from Psalm 100:4.
I believe God has called me to a more open praise as a means of declaring the delight that I anticipate as I grow old in the faith. Yes, even at a time when stern words are necessary for a church that has lost its position in America. I also feel the realities of my aging frame, but I have no interest in retirement, nor relinquishing the work of the kingdom solely to a younger generation, as so many my age and older have tended to do. I want to walk with the younger, learn with them and share with them, as the church undergoes her latest transformation in an age when five generations are alive for the first time.
His Gates, His Courts, His Holy Place-The ancient Tabernacle design, has had an impact on my life, and may be the inspiration for my recent reflections on my discipleship journey, a journey now sixty years since my mother’s womb! The framework for my writing addresses three era’s in my life, three ‘tabernacle rooms” in this discipleship journey: The Desire (my first twenty years after my commitment to Christ, a time of raw zeal in gratitude for the phenomenal sacrifice of redemption made for my life; I had entered His gates for the first time); The Discipline (the second twenty years, a time of learning and leadership, walking deeper into the tabernacle, learning from the lamp of His word, eating from the Bread of His Presence), and then The Delight (a future time that I believe will move me past my own best attempts at righteousness and reveal a new purity that is from His righteousness alone, His Holy Place).
The latter time, I see not necessarily as a time of blessing, or even happiness, but one of sharing in His joy and intimacy as I participate in the fellowship of His sufferings. A time when the full reward of my longing, the full benefit of my learning and the aged maturity of my lasting, shall more fully compliment my discipleship journey. I see all of this as evidence of Christ walking me deeper still into His tabernacle, toward a place where I am at last one with the I Am.
My first twenty years was a time of deep passionate desire, warring and winning. I was even applauded by leaders for that zeal, when I should have been cautioned. Then as leadership opportunities presented themselves, I entered a deeper penetration of service within His Body, into the Holy Place, realizing the responsibility and the burden of sacred accountability. These were treacherous times as I watched men, some whom I had admired, make decisions based more on career ambitions than their Kingdom calling. What I respected as a sacred institution, I realized for many had become no more than an industry built around the Christian religion. Had I not broken away when I did, I would possibly also be deep within that industry, possibly as disillusioned as many of the pastors now desperately trying to make church work until their time of retirement!
My longing and my lasting has now taken me to another threshold in life, a place that will require more than pastoral piety, more than a personal stance for what I believe. It will require a deep seasoned purity that only intimacy with Christ can bring, if I am to achieve The Delight. I sense a grace moment at work in my life unlike any to this point, finding myself helpless and desperate for His righteousness alone. No longer will keeping myself separate from the world suffice, in fact making myself even more vulnerable will be necessary on this leg as I learn to Delight in the Lion of Judah.