Although I am not a big fan of those who make millions telling others how to make millions, I find it helpful when someone can help those struggling financially to learn to live on a budget or find some freedom from over-spending such as using a prepaid debit card rather than running up large credit card bills. While I am have not attended one of her seminars, or even read one of her books, I came across a quote recently from one such author and speaker: "True generosity is an offering; given freely and out of pure love. No strings attached. No expectations. Time and love are the most valuable possession you can share." (Suze Orman) I am not sure if she meant to, but she connected the giving of one's self to the greatest gift of all. I think this is something God had in mind when he gave the gift of his one and only Son, Jesus - freely given, out of pure love, the greatest possession he could share with us. No wonder our psalmist calls us to come and worship him!
A joyful offering is called for - nothing else could be our response. Shouts of joy and exuberant praise should be our response to such a display of love and commitment. Yet, when we come face-to-face with God, many of us don't think to thank him, but cower in fear because we think he will "remember" something we have done wrong in our past, or judge us by some standard by which we could never measure up. We forget that when he sees each of us, it isn't our sinfulness or "worthiness" he focuses on, but the heart and spirit of his dear Son born within each of us! That is our cause to celebrate - that is the rock of our liberation upon which we stand and proclaim his praises!
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. said, "A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions." When we enter into God's presence, no longer focusing on our unrighteousness, but gazing solely into his eyes of sacrificial love, we cannot help but have our minds, hearts, and spirits stretched to "new capacity". We experience just a little bit more of his grace, love, and peace - if that were even possible - and therein find our lives expanded. It is this expansion which results in our desire to praise, give thanks, and celebrate his goodness in our lives. It is this continual expansion which draws us back, thirsting for more of his grace and love.
As scripture puts it, "As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God." The intense longing for the experience of the refreshment of the stream moves us closer to the stream until we can actually partake of the sweetness of the refreshment it provides. The presence of God should cause us to long for the "refreshing" we find there - to pant for it, move toward it, and drink deeply of it when we find ourselves face-to-face with it! Just sayin!