Irritated by God’s Glory: Adventures in Overthinking Prayer, Part III

I wasn’t planning to make this a series. This should be the final installment. Feel free to read Part 1 and Part 2 if you’re really jonesing for a flying leap down the rabbit hole.

irritated

I used to be really irritated whenever someone mentioned God’s glory.

It took years of reflection, but thanks to God’s kind insight, I figured out why.

Part of the problem was that whenever I heard “glory of God”, I heard distance. Detachment. Dismissal. A far-off God who couldn’t care less about my heart or my issues, who basks in a shower of others’ praises while I toil down here, forgotten, or kinda tolerated. I feared getting lost in the shuffle.

I believe this is actually an enormous conundrum for my generation, one I’d like to talk about eventually – the collision of soli Deo gloria with the masses of millennials wounded by damaged families, abuse, neglect, self-hatred, addiction, and every other ill stemming from being grandchildren of the sixties, and then being told that a Christ-centered gospel means that their struggles are unworthy of attention. (Yes, we hear that. All the time.)

For now, the irony is, that definition of soli Deo gloria doesn’t glorify God. Scripture tells us instead of a gracious, compassionate, and involved God who goes to great lengths to come through, even arranging for trials so that we can learn of his power (2 Cor. 1:9). He is repeatedly described as a healer all through the holy book. It’s no wonder that many of my quiet times with God were unsatisfying and tense; I didn’t have the right image of him. Approaching God without accounting for every aspect of his character is a pointless exercise, and affords him no glory.

This has been a relief. God has reconciled vast territories of my heart to him through these Scriptural discoveries and opened new avenues of worship and intimacy.

But there was a deeper issue.

I was still irritated by God’s glory. Threatened, nervous.

Eventually, I realized the core problem: I still had attachments. Whenever I heard or read the phrase “glory of God” and remembered that it needed to be about him and his will, I was pricked by fear. Fear that I might not get what I wanted. Might not see the healing of my friend’s nephew. Might not see my beloved grandparents come to faith (please, no Calvinism debates just now). Might never get my book off the ground. Might not be able to write what I want even if I did. Might not be noticed for anything. Might not even be living in the same state or country at this time next year.

I tried to console myself with the idea that God’s glory means our good.

But that’s not quite true, either. Not for earthly good, anyway. The martyrs down through the ages, if you asked them whether God’s glory meant their good, would cock their heads and look at you weird. “It’s not about my good at all,” they’d say. “It’s about him.” And they put their money where their mouths were. They were so awed by the magnificence of God and his actions through the cross and resurrection that all else was overshadowed. And I’ve only just started to get there myself.

I realized that all my heel-digging and ideological wiggling was my flesh trying to preserve my agenda against the disruption, intrusion, invasion, of God’s glory. That’s what was mad inside.

And I realized it was a dead end.

Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)

This was no longer a matter of me learning God or figuring things out. The practice unit was over and it was time for the exam.

I had to pray for God to glorify himself in my life – whatever that looked like. My input was filed, acknowledged, well and truly tucked away in his records, and now I could only await the test results, the phone calls, the letter from the publisher, the upcoming week. I could only seek God’s glory.

So I’m praying for it.

It feels like the breath-stealing, knee-wobbling, gut-dropping ascension up the final track before the roller coaster’s great plunge – constantly, on a daily basis. I have no way to guess how his glory will manifest in my life. Nothing is off the table (except the loss of my salvation, hallelujah). Frankly, it feels terrifying.

Embracing God’s glory is one big letting-go.

When all beseechings have been made, it’s one big letting go. No demands, no negotiation, no bindings. This really is just an issue of sin – my pride, my fear (which is pride), my agenda (more pride), and my willingness to let go.

I know there is nothing good outside from God. I wouldn’t want anything that isn’t from him.

I will pray for God to be glorified in my life. I’m pushing through the primal terror of that request. Whatever it means, I’m on board. He can be trusted. And he is worthy of my life.

It’s a heck of a way to end the overthinking.

39 thoughts on “Irritated by God’s Glory: Adventures in Overthinking Prayer, Part III

  1. Interesting! I love rabbit holes.

    I am all about the glory of God. Where I live there is this crazy race, people build contraptions, dress up and go through all these obstacles. The theme is “for the glory,” kind of making fun of the fact that it isn’t going to be dignified and glamorous at all. I sometimes think of our own walk with the Lord, our own race that way. Messy, imperfect, sure to be comical at some point, but a sweet offering for the glory of God.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Well done! Absolutely love this post. This is something rarely acknowledged.

    It’s not about this world, it’s not about us. Living a life of glorifying God my not be something as bold and obvious as that of an Elijah. It can be quiet simplicity; living a life that reflects the beauty and peace that comes in pursuit of God, showing our children the joy we have in spite of circumstances. We glorify God by seeking to reflect His glory by setting our own self-made glory down.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “When all beseechings have been made, it’s one big letting go. No demands, no negotiation, no bindings. This really is just an issue of sin – my pride, my fear (which is pride), my agenda (more pride), and my willingness to let go.”

    Thanks for being transparent, Brandon. I try to be that transparent as well, and I have a problem with letting go, too. Good stuff!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Well done Brandon. You and I came at this from two different perspectives, you are relatively young and I am relatively old, you have many days, I have few, you are learning this many years before I did. You are absolutely correct, when it all is said and done, literally, it is how God has been able to glorify Himself in our lives that counts, where we are open to His will and move forward in faith. He literally does the work, we are the vessel He does the work through us. That is why He gets the glory. Big works, little works, they all add up. Worthy is the Lamb. Blessings.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Followup Bible verse: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

    Ephesians 2:10 ESV

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I loved this blog when I read it yesterday. I was going to comment then, but wanted to read it again a couple of times to let it sink in. You have a lovely writing style; the perfect combination of vulnerability without coming across as naval gazing and a grasp of Biblical truths that you convey in a non preachy way. I really enjoy reading your blogs. Jill 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I read your comment “that you did not like writing this post” and I completely agree. Getting to that place where I say “nothing is off the table with you God” is hard and has been. But He has been faithful and has shown Himself to be enough for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I cannot spontaneaously give you a list of qotes from the bible now. But as far as I remember many people in the gospels have been glorifying God, when Jesus was helping and healing people. After all God is a God of love He glories in redeeming sinners. He wants our good.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Actually I did not intend to provoke a discussion about prayer and healing. I just read your post and realised you seem to have somewhat confused or mixed up feelings about the term “glory of God”. Your post made me ask what the bible actually says about “the glory of God”.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Adventures in Overthinking Prayer | Brandon J. Adams

  10. Pingback: Co-Opted by Fear: Adventures in Overthinking Prayer, Part II | Brandon J. Adams

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