The glory of the Lord God Almighty is too intense for our earthly bodies to behold. That is why the closest approximations we will get are metaphors, or visions of the imagination, if you will. Too often our worship is self-centered, limited in scope. Rarely do we take in the full breadth, depth, and sheer height of our majestic Lord and Savior. The Word gives witness to our great God, and opens the eyes of our inner spirit to God. The Spirit itself comes alongside the Word and shakes us out of our stupor, beckoning us to the beauty of the Lord. If only we would lift our heads and turn our eyes away from our own reflections.
Light is one of the most common metaphors in the Bible, and it is closely connected to the glory of the Lord. The encounters of God in the Old Testament tell us that God cannot be seen face to face. The New Testament depicts the glory of the Lord so blinding Paul with its brilliance that he is brought to his knees in utter subjugation. The glory of the Lord is both beautiful and terrifying.
If you have ever seen a shaft of sunlight pierce a line of dark clouds, you begin to understand the metaphor. If you have ever seen a sunset that so captures your attention all you can do is utter monosyllabic words like “wow”, you begin to understand the metaphor. If you have ever woken up to a bright, beautifully sunlit day after several repetitively gloomy days, you begin to understand the metaphor.
One of my favorite worship songs declares: “and His glory appears, like the light from the sun”. Metaphors like this, along with the breathtaking witness of Scripture, reorient my imagination around the living Savior. And oh, does my imagination need reorienting. It too often functions in the goopy, smelly mess of sinfulness that I live in. It needs rescue, just like the rest of me, every single day. It needs the fresh breath of the Spirit to wake it up, to fill it with newness and goodness instead of filth and destruction.
Worship fills the imagination with a glimpse of the beautiful glory of the Lord. It arrests our hearts with images of light. And the worshipping heart cannot help but bleed this light into the world around it. There is no fathomable way that the heart can contain the light of the glory of the Lord. It is too powerful. It is too strong. It is too intense. It is never contained. It passes through, filling and awakening, but shining through to others. It is not ours to control, but is instead a most precious gift.
Worship brings our hearts into closer communion with the Trinity. It envelops all elements of time. We look to the past, seeing the transforming and utterly astonishing act of Jesus Christ being crucified but rising victorious on the third day. We look to the future, declaring our hope in the promise of our Savior. And in the present, our imaginations are being transformed. What an incredible gift the Lord has given to us, worship.