Pastor Andrew’s message last Sunday brought back memories of my confirmation experience at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Mobile, Alabama.
In those days ~ perhaps even now, but definitely for centuries before my time~
persons interested in living out their Christian identity though membership with the Presbyterian Church, came to understand the teachings and tenants of the Church via a set of questions and answers called The Westminster Shorter Catechism.
There are 107 Q&As, The Ten Commandments, The Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer in the Westminster Shorter Catechism; as an 8th grader I couldn’t have imagined a Longer Catechism.
It begins this way:
Q. 1. What is the chief end of man*?
A. Man’s* chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. *really they meant humanity*
Pastor Andrew’s message invited us to consider if and how we enjoy God and to understand that God enjoys each one of us as His daughters and sons.
It’s how the word enjoy is used there that I’ve been pondering.
I would say I enjoy God immensely on sunny beach days, family gatherings, when I’m with Sunday Fun kids and their grown-ups, on quiet mornings and watching the sunset from my deck.
I’m not sure I would say I enjoy God during times less filled with hearts and rainbows. What does it look like to enjoy God even when life is chaotic, grief-filled, messy, lonely or stressful? What would it mean to enjoy God all.the.time (because it says enjoy him forever and forever is a very long time and it includes now).
I asked my phone what that word enjoy means. Here’s what it had to say:
- take delight or pleasure in (an activity or occasion).
- possess and benefit from.
Back to Q1 and its corresponding A.
- Man’s* chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy (i.e. take delight or pleasure in) him forever…This is the understanding I came away with in my Confirmation class and also find affirmed in all of Scripture and especially in the Psalms. This is how I enjoy God in the beautiful times.
- Man’s* chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy (i.e. possess and benefit from) him forever…
Our chief end is… to possess and benefit from God forever.
You may have already put all this together. (in which case, thanks for your patience with me) But honestly that statement takes my breath away.
God cannot be possessed as in a thing to have and to hold.
Rather, we claim Him as Our Heavenly Father;
we claim Christ as our Lord and Savior;
we claim the Holy Spirit keeps us bound through love to God the Father and God the Son. We say “You are Our God.”
When we claim Him as our God, our ears become open to hear His voice calling us “child.”
To be a child of the Most High King
is to benefit from Him in ways we can’t even fathom,
but at the very least I think we can say that His:
are at work for and available to us.
Goodness isn’t that AMAZING!?!
And perhaps that is
we can always enjoy God, even in life’s most difficult seasons.
I leave you with it. Just in case you ever feel this way….
“When I’m filled with frustrations and questions
God, my Rock,
You hold me fast.
You keep me steady in seasons of waiting. You keep me trusting in seasons of struggle. You keep me hoping in seasons of confusion. I thank you, God, for holding me
in all these times and for
keeping all my questions…
I hear once again your call
to hold my life with open hands.
To realize I’m not as in control as I want to be. I plan, prepare, hope, and pray,
but, sometimes, surprises blindside me.
I try to make things go my way,
but, sometimes, they don’t.
I work to change people I love,
but, sometimes they won’t.
I do my very best and work my very hardest,
but, sometimes, it’s still not enough for what I want. With your renewing fingers,
stretch and mold my spirit to
and joyful flexibility.
Please teach me, God, to
breathe in your peace
when all seems uncertain,
and exhale anxiety
when all feels unknown.
To know it’s not the end of the story
when everything feels blocked…
And, so, dear God,
I open my hands,
letting all I am and all
I hold fall into
the trustworthy hands
You stretch toward me.
*Arianne Braithwaite Lehn is one of my most favorite authors, and Ash and Starlight is one of my most favorite prayer books. If you would like a copy, I would be so honored to give you one. Just let me know!