I heart running. More than anything, I heart muddy, steep, deep single track. The adventure that beckons from a nearly secret trail, its waving grass teasing me to round the next bend and beyond, sends my mind and feet skittering over rock, rut and ravine. I am never disappointed by what I find there.
Recently, I ran a trail race at the height of the Midwestern fall season splendor. Great trees and grander branches stretched across the track and towered high as if to boast of their gorgeous adornment. As I began my laborious ascent, one of many in this unforgiving park, a runner above me crested this same hill dressed perfectly in the glory of filtered sun and shimmering foliage. She had no idea how beautifully her frame was captured in the moment before she disappeared around the bend. As I made my summit, I smiled wide and relished the chance to be clothed so well.
It struck me then that this is the way God sees his world every single day. Perfectly adorned. Perfectly redeemed. Banged up, certainly, but never defeated and only as kicked around as he permits; more than we care to endure, perhaps, but never beyond his ever-present purpose. Much to the contrary, this world turns, sways, waves, and roars as testimony to his eternal kingdom. We have been perfectly loved into an eternal life not nearly as distant as we might think.
This truth moves me toward a single word: worthy. God is so worthy, his glory reflected by splendid, enormous, tender life. Because he gifts us with this life, we are both worthy and witness. His purpose? Our glory. For his glory. Blows my mind. More incredulous is the willingness with which we so casually discard this privilege. We “exchange our Glory for an image of a bull, which eats grass” (see Psalm 106:20); we prize the absurd and superficial over the presence of the earth’s founder. Funny now (but never then) how my ugliest days, pride atop its highest peak and seeking glory as sinful spoil, produced the most stifling shame. Glory exchanged for greed, driven by whim and wholly worthless.
Yet, once sin proved painfully fruitless, I stumbled into what waits for each of us. Impossible grace. A generous identity as the delightful daughter to the Only. I laugh as I write this experience in the past tense, for I would be a fraud to imply that this story occurred only once and years ago. What was true then continues every single day. Famished, always nearly undone, I “wear forgiveness as a crown”, glorified forever by the One who says so. Banged up, certainly, but never defeated.
“Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy; let them sing before the Lord.” -Psalms 98:7-9
“All you have made will praise you, O Lord; your saints will extol you. They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.” -Psalms 145:10-12