What captivates you?
With great laughter, our professor introduced a class about the nature of God by telling how he shared the pulpit with a famous Christian leader at a family conference. After one night’s session, both speakers and their families went to the center’s snack shop for ice cream.
Laughing with amazement, my teacher told of how one son of the other speaker came to the table with an ice cream cone piled high with multiple scoops of ice cream of many colors. As the boy sat down he excitedly shrieked, “Isn’t ice cream awesome?!”
Dr. Allen grew quickly serious and with wide eyes declared, “Ice cream is not awesome. God is.” He suggested we save awe and awesome for our indescribable, immeasurable, incomprehensible God, keeping awe alive. Awe is what we are captivated by. Are you captivated by God?
The first word of Psalm 65 is “Praise.” “Praise,” someone said, “is not a compliment. It is the consummation of joy.” Higher than a synonym for thanksgiving, praise is a boastful shout of triumph at the end of a victorious battle. It is the jubilant scream when your team wins just before the last buzzer. “Praise is the occupation of the soul with the blessings of God.” To be occupied with praise is to relentlessly pursue joy in and the joy of God. In Hebrew Scripture, it is never a silent expression.
After our walk through the laments of need and despair in Psalms 54-64 (We have them, don’t we?), we find David mesmerized—in awe—with God and His works in Psalm 65. And when he does, he praises God.
Take a deep breath and run through David’s inspired praises in Psalm 65. God is awesome and to be praised: He hears our prayers; forgives/atones our transgressions; chose us to be near Him, especially in gathered worship; He answers us in righteousness; He gives hope; He establishes creation by His strength and might; He “has kept our soul among the living;” He tests/refines us as silver in a fire “yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance;” He causes “the going out of the morning and evening to shout for joy;” and He visits/ sustains creation, giving abundant, bountiful provision. Whew—you can take a breath now.
The New Testament engages our highest praise for Jesus Christ, Creator and Savior, who gave Himself for our salvation and who will consummate the ages in His eternal kingdom in the New Earth. Without question, we will be captivated by Christ on His throne as He rules and reigns forever. I imagine our gathered worship then will be noisy and triumphant and unrestrained by culture or inhibitions. I can’t wait. Why can’t we do that now?
I was there when our firstborn was delivered. Overcome, I rushed to the waiting room and tearfully, joyfully stammered, “It’s a Joy!” (Joy is her name). And she is. It was an earth-bound illustration of what it means to be in awe of Christ and to praise Him.
What praise of God is brimming up from your heart right now?