Glory and Presence (Psalm 43)
Reading: Psalm 43
Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.
Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones, a well-known Welsh preacher based in London in the 20th century, once said that heaven was a bit like a never-ending worship service, where singing praises to God would go on and on into eternity. He said that if that didn’t sound appealing to you, you might be in trouble, you might not be saved.
I’m not sure that’s altogether right (though he’s not altogether wrong, either). God designed us to work, to create, to live in community, to cultivate food and prepare it, and so on. Surely, the new heavens and the new earth will include these things, among others. Otherwise, God would simply do away with the earth. But he doesn’t. He recreates it, returns it to the way the Garden was, only better.
But Lloyd-Jones, his point was more about your disposition towards God. He was asking, do you love God? Do you love God’s glory? Do you want to be in his presence?
If you see God as a task-master, as someone who’s primarily interested in what you do and how well you do it, you might not really be interested in his presence. Because we’re flawed and sinful, we know that our works are never perfect, and that means that when the boss comes around, we’re not really in for a commendation, are we? No, we’ll be called to account.
Or perhaps you love the Lord, but you find other things in life more interesting and captivating than God. Men, for example, are often way more interested in their careers and hobbies than in church life. Women for their part are often more interested in their families and in their relationships than in the hard road of discipleship. Of course, these can be the other way around, but the point is, we often find the creation itself to be more interesting and fulfilling than the Creator. “I like God, but…”
But the Westminster Shorter Catechism teaches that the “chief end of man” (that is, the purpose of mankind) is to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.” True enough, part of the way that we enjoy God is to enjoy his good gifts, like our vocations and families. But to be in his presence, mysterious as that may be, is the goal of all those saints who have gone before us (see Philippians 1:18-26). To be in his presence is to be full of awe and wonder at his glory. To be in his presence is to be full of the joy and life that all those other things of creation merely point to. God is the source of all that is good. He is the fountain of life itself. And this is the glory that belongs to God alone.
Maybe you can see now how the two are connected. God’s glory is like no other, and for the ones who love his glory, the hope of our lives is to be in his presence. Because to be in his presence is to behold his glory and to full of awe and wonder.
Lord, teach us to seek the glory of God in all things, and bring us into your presence with great joy.