When God Pours Out Blessings, Part 9
Fifth, Pray To Confess Your Insignificance
For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. (1 Chr. 29:14-15)
Human beings have a natural longing for meaning. We want to matter. We want our existence to make a difference. We want to leave a legacy. This desperation for significance is not a uniquely Christian value, either. Apple founder Steve Jobs, who was not a Christian, once famously told an audience, “We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?”
That longing for significance and meaning hints at a deeper reality. Human beings are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), and were created to exercise God’s dominion over his creation (Gen. 1:28-30). However, when Adam fell, death entered God’s creation (Gen. 3). Among other things, death means that all the efforts we make and all the work we do to make a difference will be left to others who may not appreciate it—or may be “fools” and spoil it all (Eccles. 2:18-23). Our mortality makes our search for meaning meaningless.
Meaningless, that is, if life is viewed from the perspective of one “under the sun” (Eccles. 2:18), if this world and what the sun touches is all there is. What if it isn’t, though? If there is a God in heaven whose mission is to dwell in our midst, then that changes everything. If this God who dwells among us has revealed himself to us and made his will known to us, then the shortness of our lives can’t ultimately strip them of meaning if they are lived for him and after him. And if this same self-revealing God who dwells among us has power over all things, including things impossible “under the sun” like control over the human heart and will and even over death itself, then even our mortality is no longer a fatal problem.
“Our days on earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding,” David prays. But he prays it in a prayer of praise and thanksgiving. Why? Because it’s no longer a problem. Now it’s a way in which God’s glory is shown. The fact that God gives “all things” to a short-lived people means those short lives are invested with eternal significance, and that it’s now possible that what they do with the things he gives will endure after those days are past. We are small and pass away; God is beyond measurement and remains the same forever. Our inadequacy and insignificance present a glorious contrast with a God who is all-sufficient and most glorious.
And when this most glorious God is our all, when we are “consecrated,” devoted and dedicated wholly, to him, we finally find the only meaning and significance that will ever last and cannot be taken away or thwarted.
But we are God’s instruments by which his glory and fame spread to the ends of the earth and all of creation comes to revel in the joy found only in its Creator. We become part of a plan, devised before all ages, a “plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph. 1:10), the end of which is a “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:13). Why seek to “put a dent in the universe” when we have the privilege of helping others, as God’s own ambassadors, enter into the sure hope of a whole new, better, and perfect universe?
Let’s confess, and rejoice in, our own insignificance, for God grants us eternal; significance in Jesus Christ.
Suggestions for prayer:
1. Consider the very thing that makes your “days on earth like a shadow,” the sinful nature you inherit from Adam and the guilt of your own sin. Confess that, even though you are counted and declared righteous in Christ, you are simul justus et peccator (at the same time righteous and sinful), not yet in life and practice what you have already been accepted as by the Father and one day will be in heaven. Ask God to help you discern hidden faults, put sins to death, and turn away from worldly ways.
2. Consider how you spend your days and to what you devote your time and energy. Are you pouring yourself into things that will matter? Ask God to convict you of sin and give you wisdom to make the “best use of the time” (Col. 4:5).
3. Pray for boldness to proclaim the sure hope that we have in Jesus Christ, that one day all things will be made new and that everlasting life can be a sure and present possession for those who trust in him.
More in Pastoral Blog
March 21, 2023Catholicism and False Advertising
March 21, 2023Resolutions for 2021 from Jonathan Edwards
July 25, 2022Godliness: Sincere, Heavenly Minded, Zealous, Patient