What Are We Singing: Holy is the Lord
- 2010 28 Aug
A year or so ago I was invited to speak to a small congregation of women in Maine. The event was held at a Christian camp and retreat center near the Canadian border called moose river outpost. I flew in, leaving Orlando early in the morning and arriving - as time and flights would have it - in the earliest part of the afternoon. I thought I'd arrived, but we still had quite a drive to make.
As we continued north by car, I became aware of two things: 1) with increasing darkness crept an elevation in the chill factor, and 2) the car was required to stop for moose crossings.
We don't have moose in Florida. That I know of…
We arrived at the conference center then took a narrow and winding road upward, between the tall aspens whose near-naked branches clung to the last of their leaves, and the thick evergreen shrubs and trees. The sky overhead was deep blue, the moon as brilliant as I've ever witnessed. Its light cast long shadows that danced across green patches of grass scattered with a carpet of fiery gold and red leaves. The car took a bend in the road in front of a lake and stopped in front of my temporary home - a log cabin facing east, the living quarters which were on the second floor. In front stood a man I was soon to know as Marcus, the camp director. He took me upstairs, showed me how to light a fire in the fireplace (I'd need it) and gave me a quick layout of the cabin and the grounds.
I woke early the next morning, made a pot of coffee, wrapped myself in a thick blanket and headed out to the front porch where a red rocking chair called my name. With my camera resting in my lap… I waited.
Within minutes the sun peeked over the hills along the border. It broke through dark clouds and laid a golden beam across the still gray of the lake. With enough light to guide me, I bounded down the stairs and ran over to its edge where the water lapped gently against the dock and a forgotten canoe. I turned to the north. A mountain's reflection was cast in the water, forming a picture such that I could not tell which was real and which was the mirror image. I breathed in the crisp cold country air… and thanked God for his fingerprint.
In my way of thinking, the whole earth was full of his glory. A painting on his canvas. Brush strokes of radiance and majesty displayed with a sense that I was the only one in the world lucky enough to see them.
We've all had those moments, I'm sure. Those gifts of magnificent glimpses at God's handwork, his display of grandeur, and his exhibition of brilliance. "Who but you, O Lord," our hearts cry out, "could have created such as this?"
And, as if to remind us that should we become silent concerning the joy of the Lord, his nature will take over.
Later that day I asked Marcus, "Do you ever grow tired of this vista?"
He replied, "Never. And I don't grow accustomed to it, either."
Surely not. For to do so, I think, would be to take it all for granted. If there is one thing we should never, ever do, it is to take for granted the glory of God.
And If There Is No Such Vista?
Not everyone has such a view as this. I went to New York City once, opened my hotel room window and gasped. Not a foot away was the brick wall of another skyscraper. During my stay, I met folks who lived in the hotel. Even though one of the most exciting man-made cities in the world was at their doorstep, their "world view" was of brick and asphalt.
In such cases, where does the joy come from?
Inside. It comes when we stand fully in his presence, from lifting hands in worship, and in bowing in the heart-stopping holiness of his company.
There are two verses that come to mind that speak of the earth being filled with God's glory. They are found in Psalms 72:1 and in Isaiah 6:1. In Psalm 72, David writes poetically of the hills and mountains, the sun and moon, rain falling on a mown field, grain swaying and fruit flourishing. He concludes his song of praise with these words: May his name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun. All nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed. Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds. Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen (vss. Psalms 72:17).
The second set of verses comes from Isaiah, who reveals a great vision from God. He pens: In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory" (Isaiah 6:1).
In the first example, David saw the beauty of the earth, the Lord's remarkable deeds, and exclaimed the glory of the Lord. In the second, those who God created - the seraphs - declared His worth. So holy is the Lord, they cry, that the whole earth can chock-full of his glory!
A New Song
Modern praise and worship singer/songwriter chris tomlin has brought lyrics and music to this same pattern of thought. God's glory fills the earth; sometimes when we stand and lift our hands, sometimes when we bow and worship. Sometimes the whole earth - and its fullness thereof - makes the same pronouncement of adulation. But it should never cry out alone. We must be moved - not only by the vistas of his paintbrush, but also by those moments of his presence in our lives.
And together we sing… holy is the lord.
Eva Marie Everson is the author of a number of fiction and nonfiction works, including the recently released This Fine Life (Baker/Revell) and Reflections of God's Holy Land; A Personal Journey Through Israel (Thomas Nelson). For more information about Eva Marie and for speaking information, go to www.EvaMarieEverson.com.
Photo © Eva Marie Everson
Publication date: June 26, 2010