PERSPECTIVE

The Day the Stars Sang

Perhaps you’ve heard

the story told by Chuck Swindoll about Chippie, the singing parakeet. He said

the bird’s problems began when the woman who owned him decided to clean up the

seeds and loose feathers from the bottom of his cage using a vacuum. When the phone rang, the owner turned

to pick it up, and—you guessed it—with a thud and whoosh, Chippie was gone.



I’ve wondered whether our understanding of God has become so distorted and cynical that we end up seeing life through a prism filled with trials and troubles.

The owner quickly

turned off the vacuum and unzipped the bag. There was Chippie. He was stunned but breathing. Seeing that

he was covered with black dust, his owner rushed Chippie to the bathtub, where she

turned on the faucet full blast and held the bird under the icy water.



At that point she

realized that she’d done even more damage, and she quickly cranked up her blow

dryer and gave the wet, shivering little parakeet a blast. Swindoll finished the story by saying,

“Chippie doesn’t sing much any more.”



I’ve thought a lot about

Chippie and us as Christians. Why is it that some of us seem to lose our

spiritual fervor? I’ve wondered

whether our understanding of God has become so distorted and cynical that we

end up seeing life through a prism filled with trials and troubles. Does it really matter if we pray or

don’t pray? Is God still in charge and if He is, can He hear us? Our

understanding of God is critical. It is at the heart of stewardship. To become a good steward or effective

manager we must understand the Source of the resources we’ve been asked to

manage. Troubles no doubt will still come but knowing the Who of stewardship is

the first step in learning “to sing again.”



Jesus spoke about spiritual

dangers and He often did so by clarifying who God is and how we should relate

to Him. In Matthew 6: 5-15, we see that He was concerned with the abuse of

prayer. In contrast to the public hypocritical prayers offered on the street

corners, Jesus taught how to pray differently. Prayer had a different meaning

for Jesus. We get a hint of this early in the “The Lord’s Prayer.” After

addressing God as “Father,” the very next words were “Hallowed be your

name.” The word “hallowed” means

to treat something reverently or as the ultimate or most important thing. Jesus

says that before we ever get to petitions (“give us this day our daily bread”)

and confessions (“forgive us our debts”) we need to acknowledge God as the most

important part of our life. It’s a radical perspective. Everything that follows

in the prayer is seen from the perspective of the hallowed name of God. It puts

questions like “Who am I?” and “What shall I do?” in a very different light.

Our petitions and confessions are seen in the context of who God is and in whom

we can place our ultimate trust. “Know thy self,” in other words, can only be

truly answered after we’ve first grasped the meaning of “Know thy God.” The

Bible itself begins with this same perspective—“In the beginning God . . .” (Gen.

1:1).



The book of Genesis is about God telling us His story and He does so by first telling who He is. It is only then that we are told who we are and in whose image we have been made.

The

Magnificent God of Genesis 1

The book

of Genesis is about God telling us His story and He does so by first telling

who He is. It is only then that we

are told who we are and in whose image we have been made. Genesis 1 is like a

call to worship. It is a review of what God has done in the preparation of a

home and a mission for those created in His image. The sequence of days in the Creation week reveals how He

anticipates needs before they arise and makes provision to meet them. He fills

empty forms, for example, with new creations—water and the sky are created in

anticipation of the needs of fish and birds; land and vegetation for animals

and man. This foundational principle is repeated

throughout Scripture. He transforms the unpromising into order by turning

nothing into something. He does the same thing with our own lives. It

becomes obvious as the Creation week unfolds, that this all-powerful God is

moving toward a special objective. Genesis 1 is not simply a showcase of what

He can do. Rather, with this

recognition, Scripture invites us

to trust and to have confidence in the Creator-God. The name used for God in

the first chapter is Elohim

which gives emphasis to the majesty and power of the Creator-God. It becomes

very clear that God is not only the Creator but He is also the intended

Presider or Owner over all that has been made.



The

Benevolent God of Genesis 2

The caring

and relational characteristics of God are accentuated in Genesis 2. To give

emphasis to this characteristic, another name for God is introduced, and that

name is Yahweh. Throughout Genesis and all of

Scripture, this name is associated with God as the “Promise-Keeper”, the

Covenant-God and the One who intervenes and saves. In chapter one, God is the

“All-Powerful-One” but in Genesis 2 greater emphasis is given to Him being the

“Relational-God” who uses His power to sustain and fulfill with meaning and

purpose. God invited Adam to join Him in caring for His creation. This is seen,

in part, by the two responsibilities given to Adam in Genesis 2:15: “to keep” and “to guard” the garden,

which suggests that there were dangers that could threaten God’s ultimate

purpose for the newly created earth and its inhabitants.



Freedom

Threatened

When God put Adam and Eve in the garden, He did so with one stipulation: You can have everything except what is produced by that one tree. No reason was given except that He told them they would die if they ate of it. God was essentially saying, “Trust Me.”

When God

put Adam and Eve in the garden, He did so with one stipulation: You can have

everything except what is produced by that one tree. No reason was given except that He told them they would die

if they ate of it. God was

essentially saying, “Trust Me.” The serpent then appears and says, “You know

why God won’t let you eat of the tree?

It’s because it is the best one.”

Implied in his cunning tale was a principle that has undermined God and

stewardship throughout the history of the world: “If God won’t let you have

everything, it means He doesn’t want you to have anything. That just proves you

can’t trust Him!” Generations later, when Jesus presented instructions about

prayer, He conceptually and indirectly referenced the objectives of the first

two chapters of Genesis and the very essence of true and lasting stewardship.

The hallowed names of God elicit our praise and with it comes freedom, purpose

and a fulfilled life. The praise

of God is the root of faithful stewardship. With Genesis 1 and 2 providing the

assurance that our God is all-powerful while at the same time being all-caring,

it is only natural to conclude that He can still be trusted. The remaining

unspoken question begs an answer: “Can He trust us?”



God’s

Questions for Us

Genesis 3 introduces us to the

early signs of a broken trust-relationship between God and man. Ironically, the

“fall” takes place in the context of a garden filled to overflowing with the

provisions made for Adam and Eve by their Creator. Greed—not need—broke the

developing relationship. Sin fragmented the relationship by moving God from the

center to the sideline and then filling the vacuum with self. Without seeing

God as their “ultimate” source of fulfillment, without God being “hallowed,”

caused them to see their petitions as a means of serving self first. Soon Adam

and Eve distrusted and blamed one another. When God came to the garden to be

with Adam and Eve, it wasn’t He who had changed. Adam and Eve had. His

penetrating question, “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:9), was not one about location

but one of relationship. It gave them an opportunity to reflect and repent as

they considered the implications of their actions. “Are you for me or against

me?” “Do you trust me?” Later in Genesis 4 we are introduced to the outgrowth

of a me-centered life. How ironic, in the midst of worship, self flourished—a

brother kills a brother—and God asks another incriminating question that

reveals the progression of selfishness. “Where is your brother?” (Gen. 4:9).

When the relationship with God is broken, it is only a matter of time before

relationships with others will also become strained and broken. Things, power

and recognition become more important than people. The more self becomes the

center, the more we become like the things we crave. If one’s identity and

meaning comes first from human relationships, then it is natural to become

driven by what people think. We live in fear of losing the affirmation of men

rather than of God. Then the image of God shrinks to the image we can

comprehend at the moment. The Creation story then becomes the foundation for a

refocusing of our lives and that is precisely what the ultimate goal of

stewardship is.



“Hallowed Be

Thy Name”

When God’s

character and the plans He had for us became obscured as they were in the story

of Job (Job 38:1-6), God directed Job’s attention to the Creation account. Of

that time it was reported that “the morning stars sang together and the angels

shouted for joy” (v. 7). Yes, we can learn to sing again when we “stop and

consider God’s wonders” (Job 37:14).

Seeing the wonder of who God is and what He had and still has in store

for us, leads us to the personal conviction: “Hallowed” be His name.

Larry R. Evans

Associate Director

GC Stewardship Ministries,

Editor, Dynamic Steward

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