The more I learn, the less I know. This is the upside-down nature of the kingdom. We never stop learning new things. One of the first times I sang in front of a microphone was when I was about nine years old at a church program. I was nervous. I was shy. And I loved it. These layers are still there with me when I stand in front of a microphone today.
Who I am is not the songs, but who we are is brought to light by the songs we sing and the words we speak. God is the giver of song and breath. He causes unity to bond us when we sing together. And he uses ordinary means to expose our need for him. He uses the struggle to bring out the gold. He turns our fig leaves we’ve made into garments of praise, our shame to beauty (Isa. 61:3).
In the gifts he has given each of us, he makes a display of his own generosity, his own glory—and we are the recipients, the responders, the multipliers of his goodness out into the world. Whether singing, dancing, inventing, calculating, systematizing, politicizing, educating, we do so in gratitude.
Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10:31)
Seeking out God’s glory is like opening up a treasure chest when we try new things and hear God’s voice in the discovery of something new.
I will give you hidden treasures,
riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the Lord,
the God of Israel, who summons you by name. (Isa. 45:3 NIV)
I’ve been watching my middle school kids try new things lately. Online school piano lessons on Zoom in a pandemic. Spanish practice. Skateboarding. I study my toddler as he learns sounds and phrases every day that are old hat for the rest of us. And I admire my husband as I hear over dinner the challenges and accomplishments in his projects at work.
New seasons and new experiences can bring discomfort that makes us wonder if there might be something wrong. Doubt makes us wonder if we should go back to an old way. But often our discomfort is evidence of growth. Hope propels us through discomfort, growing pains that move us toward strength.
Maturity is not a plateau after one short climb. God’s Spirit is ever making changes and makes adaptations within us that are more gritty and more ongoing than we expected. Like a slow, steady rise to a higher elevation, with each step of faith we learn to measure our breath and our resources more carefully. And when the air gets thinner, we pause and catch a glimpse of the landscape. The higher the climb, the further and wider we can see.
Do we believe that Jesus walks with us? Do we believe the struggle means something? Do we believe that we are heading in the right direction? Are we following a path? Or do we feel lost, making circles in the woods?
Hope reframes our reality like a lamp at our feet, a light to illuminate the path just ahead. Hope reframes our reality when we feel like the struggle is meaningless. We do not labor in vain. Can God change our conditions in an instant? Yes. And still he waits with us as hope assures us that the struggles we face are deepening our character in ways that we cannot yet see.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Cor. 4:17 NIV, emphasis mine)
Living by faith is like a slow ascent, and paradoxically it is also like a slow descent. To be wise, you have to be a fool. To understand something complicated, you have to simplify. God’s wisdom and love drills downward within us as we go.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE TO LIVE BY FAITH? DO YOU BELIEVE JESUS WALKS WITH YOU? WHERE DO YOU FIND HOPE FOR YOUR JOURNEY? WHAT WORDS ARE SHAPING YOUR JOURNEY?
||Sandra McCracken is a prolific songwriter, modern-day hymn writer, and record producer. She is a dynamic performer whose captivating, soulful sound invites audiences to sing along, and moves listeners at the deepest levels. Many of her songs, like “We Will Feast In The House Of Zion” and “Thy Mercy My God,” have settled into regular rotation in Christian worship services internationally, and she has also written songs for All Sons And Daughters, Keith and Kristyn Getty, The Porter's Gate, Ellie Holcomb, The Faithful Project, Rain for Roots, Indelible Grace, Nashville Indie Spotlight, Citizens, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, and more. Her new book, Send Out Your Light, is available now.