On a recent Colorado vacation, my family set out on an unfamiliar trail to get a taste of wilderness and enjoy some mountain views. We witnessed cascading alpine streams and inhaled the crisp aspen air as we slalomed through the pine-filled mountainside. With every turn and clump of red mushrooms, our youngest child clicked and cranked his disposable camera. Our path was lined on each side with all imaginable shades of green. Were you to remove a square yard of earth from any portion of this land, you would find it teeming with life. In a word, it was glorious.
This rejuvenating trek has had me thinking about how we remain motivated by what is life-giving versus draining amid the daily grind. I believe the life source that we often lack is genuine Glory. And while I’d like to think that I’m always powered by the Glory and goodness of God, my guess is that it is oftentimes obligation or reputation—self-centered lesser glories. These lesser glories are simply counterfeits masquerading as the real deal. They look valuable but don’t clear when we try to cash them in for what we really want.
Obligation apart from God’s glory is enslaving. It slowly colonizes our mind, our motives, and our actions. It leads to a fear-filled maintenance of the status quo devoid of genuine relational love. For many people, this is what drives them in life and labor. If I do the right thing, then I deserve to be rewarded for my faithfulness. This leads to negotiating away all possible liabilities and can lead to a resentment of others who don’t understand the cross we bear. It is motivation based on loveless fear. Ultimately, the voice of our internal guilt drowns out the voice of God as we elect our own worst nightmares as king.
Similarly, serving our own reputation transfers the outcome of our success to other imperfect people. This will inevitably lead to disappointment and betrayal. We want what only they can give and this gives them a comfy throne in governing our life. We end up managing our own 24/7 public relations campaign and slowly lose ourselves in the act. Meanwhile our hypocrisy and weakness haunt us like Scrooge’s ghosts.
When we encounter God, we encounter glory; a non-derivative sustainable source of life and beauty and love. We meet a perfect person. Like a cascading mountain stream, God brings refreshment to a thirsty creation. He shares his glory with us. When we are parched for motivation, we need to drink from this river. We need to feel the force of thunder beneath our feet. We need to hear the joy of God in the laughter of a friend. We need to taste a ripe tomato that has been cultivated by a kind neighbor. We need God's Glory to wash over our guilt and gluttony and let His powerful current carry us along.
God manifests his glory wherever He reigns. And that includes today. And that means here. And that means forever. Sometimes it just takes a hike to remember.
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse proclaims the work of his hands.” - Psalm 19:1