I like succinct and to the point.
Take away the fluff and just give me the intended meaning. And it seems to always arrest my attention when I read something like “3 ways to better your productivity.” or “Get fit in 5 easy steps.”
Some years ago I was listening to a message on a couple of verses that have radically changed my perspective.
Thus says the LORD: Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. (Isaiah 66:1-2)
I was struck by the fact that, though God is aware of all things, He says that He takes special interest in three things. And He does not beat around the proverbial bush – He names what they are. Today we will look into the final attribute: trembling at God’s word.
A bucket list event
I recall an epic trip that I made with my daughter Courtney. We are UNC Tarheel basketball fans, and I surprised her one birthday by taking her to a game on the campus of the University of North Carolina.
This was a bucket list item for sure.
One of the memories of the night was watching my daughter as we entered the Dean Smith Center. As we went through the ticket counter, we entered at the top of the stadium, with memorabilia flooding our eyes. Wall posters of former and current players, championships won, timelines of UNC history in basketball.
It was all there.
We were truly overwhelmed. After all of the games at the Smith Center we had only viewed on cable, we were now actually here.
One of my favorite moments of the night was when Courtney’s eyes caught one of the openings to the court as she stood there looking down into the stadium. Eyes wide, shouting, “Dad…Dad…Dad, that’s it! It’s where they play! This is it!”
That made my night. All of her senses were honed in to that moment. There was an awe, this taking-it-all-in kind of response, a reverence of sorts of where we were actually standing.
This is, in a very small sense, what I think of when I ponder the final characteristic that God says is divinely attractive to Him: trembling at His Word.
In Isaiah 66:1-2, God does not issue a command, but rather pulls us in close to to reveal His own heart. What does God view with favor? What is attractive to Him, that He notices with special attention?
The first is having a humble spirit. The second is being quick to repent.
The third? A reverential fear of God’s word. So what is it about the way we interact with the Scriptures that gets God’s attention?
Engaging it for the right purpose
I believe God is pleased when I engage His word for the right reasons. And that means that I am always looking for Jesus no matter where I am reading in the Bible. It all points to Him.
For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. (2 Corinthians 1:20)
Reading a passage of Scripture to “get my devotions done” does not cause God to take notice. But when I am reading the Bible with the intent to see Jesus so that I understand more of who He is and how He responds, I am reading for an intent that catches God’s attention.
Engaging it because there is no gospel without it
I have come to believe more fully over recent years that it is truly all about the gospel. Because what I have come to understand is the gospel is way more than just about my salvation. It is my life.
We have to exercise caution when we use the word “gospel” that it does not become another “junk-drawer” term – used so often it loses its meaning. If I am truly all about the gospel, then one of the primary ways that God speaks into my life is through His revealed word, the scriptures.
We have become such an experience-saturated culture that we look for too many encounters with God outside what He has already said. And He has made it clear that all we need to know is found in the truth of the Bible. All 66 books weave together into one significant story. All I need for life and godliness is found there.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. (2 Peter 1:3)
All these things that pertain to life and godliness are found in Jesus, and I find out about Jesus through the record that God has given – His word.
Engaging it as my authority
When we were in the Smith Center, it had my daughter’s complete focus. She was trembling with excitement because we like to identify with the North Carolina Tarheels. They are a basketball authority for us.
On a much grander scale, the Bible is my authority for life, meaning that I engage with it, the Holy Spirit causes me to “get it,” I see the gap in my life, I see how Jesus meets it, and I am compelled to obey it. Because my identity is in Jesus, His words are now my obedience.
Perhaps you have never thought much about what God holds as divinely attractive. Humility. Quickness to repent. Engaging God’s word. The key is not to try harder or exert more effort. No performance required. Just the right identity.
What is God noticing about you?