The Glory of the Spotlight

I remember as a child gathering kids in the neighborhood, so we could put on performances for our parents. We would discuss a theme and our talents, create flyers, sell tickets and showcase ourselves to an adoring audience. We loved the stage of our fireplace hearth and the visibility given by the spotlights above, and of course, to our own parents, everything we did was simply adorable.

I learned early on that I wasn’t afraid of being on stage, speaking in front of others or risking myself in the event that others might think me a fool. I like the spotlight, frankly. For me, it provided more reward than risk. More attention. More glory.

I liked it. Too much. I was little then, so it could still be swept aside as “cute.”

As I got older and grew in maturity, experience and knowledge, it wasn’t as cute. It was clear, at least to me, that I liked the attention. I craved it, even. I liked the glory, affirmation and praise. It’s an ugly truth, but it’s the truth, nonetheless. I liked being the center of attention.

But the glory never brought me lasting happiness.

Not that I’ve ever been a celebrity, or anything even remotely close, but I often see a similar story among that people group: they chase glory, find it, and it still doesn’t satisfy.

Fulfillment isn’t found in our own glory.

Glory – from Hebrew word, kavod, referring to something with weight; substantial. It connotes honor and fame as coming from a social status that includes greatness, wealth or power.

This isn’t exactly what pop culture teaches, sadly. Everything around us tells us to chase our own greatness. We’re encouraged to keep our eyes on ourselves, focus on our success and appearance and accumulate as much as possible.  We’re taught to glorify our bodies, our belongings and our fame…but we need to recognize who is creating these marketing messages. Most importantly, we need to understand that these marketers don’t actually love us. No, they’re selling to us and looking for their own glory too.

God tells us a different story, though. He guides us not to kindle our own glory, but His.

…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

He must become greater; I must become less. (John 3:30)

Why does He suggest this? Is God an ego maniac?

Not at all. He loves us and knows what’s best for us. In fact, He ALONE, will always give us perfect guidance for our best lives. No human could ever compare, and every human is fallible and will make mistakes – lots of them. The truth is that God, in His lovingkindness, doesn’t want us to give ourselves or other people glory, because all humans will fall short of such honor and praise. We simply can’t be perfect. Or even close. We’re undeserving of true glory.

What if we’ve put our hopes in ourselves or one another? We’re left disappointed; our hopes dashed.

Only God…

There is only One, ever, in the history of time that is truly and fully deserving of all worship and glory. He alone is perfect; fully good, always right, all-knowing and purely righteous. He alone is worthy of our hope.

“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they were created
    and have their being.” (Revelation 4:11)

Can you even imagine the power? He spoke everything into existence. By His words, everything came to being. Everything. Everyone. Nothing and nobody can compare (no matter how big their social media following!), and we might want to pause and consider if some are worthy of the worship and glory we give them.

Hear me when I say that it’s an easy mistake for us humans to make. I do it all the time, and I’m asking for God’s help to catch myself more often. While I want to preserve that “top spot” in my heart for Him, I have to ask for His help to do so. I can easily give glory to my children, especially. They are, after all, part of my own heart living outside of my body. It’s an easy trap to fall into and worship their development and accomplishments along the way (and even worse, that I can take credit for ushering these milestones in!)

The list is long, too. It’s not just my kids. I can give glory to women with “perfect” bodies that I don’t have (then I stir up a cocktail of mis-placed glory along with envy that’s not so tasty.) I can easily slip into glorifying celebrities to whom God has given AMAZING gifts. Consider the likes of the best performers, authors, artists, activists and even pastors. They may be doing incredibly noteworthy things that break records, sales and audience numbers, and it becomes a slippery slope when we glorify them and their accomplishments, versus the One who gave them their unique talents. I can even fall into glorifying my home, spending way too much time or expense on its appearance or contents. It can assuredly be welcoming, comfortable and pretty without becoming a showpiece that stirs up prime attention.

God himself reminds us: You shall have no other Gods before me (Exodus 20:13).

So, I have to check myself and my heart – over and over and over again. What am I putting before God? Who or what am I giving glory to instead of Him? Am I giving too much praise that rightfully belongs to Him?

God’s glory is incomparable. It’s SO great, so good, so holy, so…well, glorious that we can’t even handle it. Seriously. It’s just too much for our humanity!! In the Old Testament, Moses asked God to show His glory. Watch how this played out…

Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” (Exodus 33:18-23)

God’s glory is so radiant, we can’t even receive its fullness in the current state of our earthly bodies. Don’t you love how God wanted to give Moses what he asked for, but He did so with great care and protection for him? Even that shielded exposure to God’s partial glory changed Moses visibly.

Who can compare to that? Nobody. God, alone, is worthy of glory.

Just like God shielded Moses, He protects us too. It’s why He warns us not to idolize anything or anyone before Him — He knows ALL else will fall short. It’s why He encourages us to give all glory to Him — because He IS worthy of it, and He will NOT fall short.

God knows exactly what we need, and He is a good, good Father who wants to help, guide, comfort, strengthen and most of all, fill us with love. We can trust Him with our glory, praise and worship, because it’s not about His pride or ego. Rather, it’s about His great love and care for us.

 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (Matthew 6:33)

Our glory is not misplaced in Him. He is worthy and faithful.

As I go back and recall my silly childhood shows with the spotlight overhead, I giggle about my youthful innocence, lack of maturity and understanding, and I also praise God for making me just as I am: extraverted, eager to gather people and with a great love of communicating. With a more mature faith, I can see how I can do these things, not for MY glory, but His. I can use the gifts He gave me for Him and His purposes!

…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

My prayer for us all during this season of twinkling lights, is that each light serves as a reminder to shine light on Him. Let all glory go to God, where it rightfully belongs. Let every light that shines point to Him, for He alone is worthy, and He alone was born to never fail us, to save us and to allow us to share in his glory in heaven.

What a unbelievable gift that He would share with us!! Isn’t that amazing? He fills that hole; our desire for glory. He rewards us for our faith, and through our faith, He fills our heart’s desire to be fully seen, fully known and fully loved. Through Him, we are perfected and made righteous. May we be patient and trusting until that day, and may we point each and every light to Him.

 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:17)

and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord. (Psalm 138:5)

Pray with me: Lord, please help me to remain humble and to have a heart of gratitude for what You have given and for what You have done in my life. You, alone, are worthy. I need your help to keep my heart and thoughts fixed on You and your Goodness. Compel me, please, to give you the glory you deserve. Thank you, Lord, that there is no risk in placing in my trust in You, because you are uniquely perfect and good. May my life bring you glory and honor. Amen.

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