Over the past 9 years I have probably written 300 devotionals that have appeared on the internet in one form or another. Each of these devotionals have taken some life experience or event and drawn a spiritual analogy out of it. As someone who is only 36 years old, you would think that most every type of experience I have gone through has appeared on some space of cyberspace. If you think that, you thought wrong. There is one set of experiences I have never written about . . . not because I am ashamed of it, but because it is so foreign to the rest of my life that I almost forget about it myself from time to time. What is this experience, you ask? The answer: I was in two ballets in the early 1980’s. There . . . I said it.
Now it is not weird for a man to be in a ballet. Some of the greatest dancers of all time have been men. It is, however, weird for ME to be in a ballet. Have you ever seen me dance? To borrow a phrase from Jerry Seinfeld, me dancing is like a full body dry heave. Seriously, if my life were the only information you had to go on, you would easily conclude that Gloria Estefan was a liar . . . eventually the rhythm is NOT going to get you.
But having a sister who was an excellent ballerina, I had the opportunity to have a small role in the first act of Bartlesville Civic Ballet’s production of the “Nutcracker” as a child at Drosselmeyer’s party. If certain music plays from those scenes even today (some 30 years later) I can still do the dance. Amazing how I can’t remember where I placed my keys five minutes ago, but I can sing the words to Kenny Loggins “Footloose” without any notice when the song comes on the radio (its funny what sticks with you.)
In the opening scene of Act I of the Nutcracker in Bartlesville the “children” were walking across the stage with their “families,” making their way to Drosselmeyer’s estate for the Christmas party. In a bit of stage magic, we walked across the stage in front of a scrim, a net-like screen that was see-through on the stage, but showed up as a rough gray background to the audience when spotlighted from the front. Therefore, as we walked across the stage, all you saw was us, not the set of the mansion that rested behind the scrim. After all families had passed in front of the scrim, suddenly the lights shifted. The spotlight from the audience side of the scrim was killed and the stage lights on the mansion lit up like a Christmas tree. Suddenly everyone could see what was invisible moments ago. The change in lighting made the invisible visible.
I walk through this example today because I think a complex spiritual principle is revealed through it. At our Pastoral Staff meeting today we were talking about the concept of doing all we do for the glory of God. Our Senior Pastor, Bruce Hess, is preaching a short series on the topic in our worship services this August. We were talking about this concept, and how to apply its truth to our daily lives. Doing what we do “for the glory of God” is a great sounding phrase, but is somewhat difficult to definitively articulate. What does it look like to do what we do for the glory of God?
As we talked about glorifying God, this scene from the Nutcracker came to my mind. When it comes to glorifying God, I believe a simple way to imagine this concept is to imagine where the “lights” are shining in your life. Sometimes in life, we do things, say things, etc. in which we are the one in the spotlight. However, glorifying God is a process whereby we consistently turn the lights on behind the scrim revealing the larger reality of who God is. When the lights are on Him, He is what people see and praise, not us. Let me offer just a couple of examples to this end.
Take preaching (for example). Over the past couple of months, I had the privilege to preach 6 times in the worship services at Wildwood. It was my hope and prayer that God would receive the glory for those efforts, but how would I know if that happened or not? If people left that series talking about me, then I was in the spotlight and was the recipient of the “glory.” However, if people left that series talking about God (His character and His truth), then the lights were shining on Him, and He was receiving the glory and honor.
Another example would be related to you and your workplace. When you work hard and are acknowledged for your efforts, whether they be for your skill at parenting or your insight in the laboratory, do you give God the credit for your work, or do you simply bask in the spotlight?
The applications to this principle are as wide as your experience. Does the net effect of your life cause people to talk about you, or to talk about God? When it comes to your life, where are the lights shining? Is there a spotlight on you, or is God illuminated center stage? Glorifying God is the process of taking the spotlight off us and pointing it on God so the world around us can see through the scrim. Glorifying God turns on the lights and makes the invisible visible.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31