Then Sings My Soul
What stirs your soul to sense and express the greatness of God? As we listen to the lyrics of this classic hymn I think many of us can relate to these scenarios moving us to glimpse through the veil and grasp a bit of His splendor.
While serving in the military our family was stationed overseas several times. One of our favorite places to visit was the Alps, and for several years we lived near the Black Forest. So, when the lyrics speak of the lofty mountain peaks and forest glades my mind automatically goes there, and to the experiences of God’s beauty and majesty displayed in those places. I was fortunate enough to be able to do some personal retreats in those mountains, focusing on the Lord as I walked with Him through the glories of what His hands had wrought. Yes, my soul sang of His greatness there! But I’m sure that each of us have had our own experiences, whether it’s in the Smokies, the Rockies, or another range, or even walking in Starved Rock in downstate Illinois. Anyone can appreciate the beauty of such places, but only God’s beloved children will find their souls stirred into worship as they fellowship with Him in the midst of the wonders of His hand.
When I was a teen on a mission trip to Oklahoma we climbed up on a mesa at night and laid there watching the stars shine brighter than any we had seen back home in the glare of the streetlights, and one of our leaders told us about the constellations. Our souls sang a little bit more that night as we opened ourselves to new knowledge of God’s wonders on display. It is a little bit difficult for us to think about how vast the universe is beyond us, going on endlessly, but our God fills it all! What we cannot even fathom He has created and controls, from the macro to the micro! How great He is! It is something that is laid out before us night after night, but how often do we let it move our souls to wonder at Him, and sing of His greatness?
We have just come through the season of Good Friday and Easter when we focus on the amazing salvation that has been granted to us. How often throughout the year do we pause to think “that God His Son not sparing, sent Him to die” for us? Do regularly we ponder that He would so willingly give His life for us; He would so willingly bear the scorn, shame, and stench of our sin? Do we marvel that holy God would desire to have union with sinful you and me? Do we revel in the reality of how great is our salvation that this loving God has given us? Does it daily stir our hearts to sing, “How great Thou art”? It is far too easy and too natural for us to get used to a fact and no longer be stunned by it, but something this wonderful needs to be cultivated into a lasting source of amazement and worship, because the truth of it astounds the hosts of heaven. The grace and mercy of God is worthy of all of our continual and heart-felt expressions of “How great Thou art.”
Although this anthem does not mention this aspect, recently I have been touched by another reason for sensing and expressing the greatness of our God. This perhaps unlikely prompting is coming from walking alongside through the sufferings of other believers. As I pray for them and encourage them, they respond to me by telling me what the Lord means to them, how He is meeting them in their time of deepest need. They own their struggle to hold on, and the fears that arise, but also testify to how God holds onto them when they are too weak to cling to Him, and how He whispers His peace to their fainting hearts. When I see how faithful and compassionate He is with these sufferers, my soul sings of His greatness. My heart is encouraged by His love. My faith grows as I see Him keeping His promises, for He never fails. And I can testify that He has been ever faithful in my own suffering, as well!
What about you? Where are those intersections in your own life where God pulls back the veil to show you His greatness? What stirs your own soul to sing, “How great Thou art”? Let me encourage you to take a bit of time to ponder that, to remember those times, to invite new encounters with His greatness through awareness, and to renew your praise to Him for the times you have experienced His greatness in the past. As I said, human nature is to relegate the past to “been there, done that,” but the divine nature within us calls us to fan the embers of those past and present visions of His grandeur into the flames of worship, adoration, and praise.
When our souls overflow with those songs, we will carry their expressions on our faces and in our words to those around us. May we increasingly radiate our knowledge of Him and His greatness that He will receive not only our praise, but the praises of those who witness Him in us.