Monday, December 03, 2012

Take a Stand

If your kids are grown, do you wonder sometimes if you forgot to teach them something? Something important? While they’re young, time accelerates to Nascar speed and after the blur subsides, you’re left trying to focus. “Did I read to them enough?” “Do they know where our traditions come from?” “Did I tell them not to pour the hot water for tea into a glass pitcher?”
Just this morning, I wondered if we’d remembered to teach my son to stand when a lady enters the room. You don’t see that happen very often these days. Although he routinely opens doors and pulls out chairs for females, I can’t remember if he stands. It’s not crucial, but a symbol of a gentler society filled with respect. I want him to embrace those qualities — and he does. He’s a respectful young man all around. But, does he stand?
Standing in respect. Who else does that? Soldiers immediately come to mind.  An officer arrives, “Ten-hut!” reverberates and men rise quickly to stand at attention. Respect, you see. 
It’s the Christmas season as I write and performances of Handel’s “Messiah” will sound throughout the world. As the “Hallelujah Chorus” begins many will stand. Why? Legend has it that King George II attended the first London performance and stood up upon hearing the line “For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” Some say he was showing subservience and respect to God. Of course, whenever the King stood, you stood as well unless you enjoyed time in the dungeon. Better show some respect for the British Crown. 
I wonder. Who do you stand up for? What brings you to your feet? A rocking song at a live concert? Touchdowns? Contestants about to cross the finish line? Sometimes, it’s not even a deliberate action. We just spring up. A reaction to something exhilarating. It’s those times when we can’t help ourselves. When something just takes over and we're on our feet.
As I was reading in Isaiah this morning, I was halted by a small part of a verse that might be considered prose. But, God has a great way of focusing a spotlight on words that, if I stop and take time to think about them, I’m always the richer. 
      Isaiah 48:12-13 says “I am he; I am the first and I am the last. My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens;” and I wanted to stop there. I could picture a massive hand in the sky sweeping across it laying the stars by night and the clouds by day. How amazing would that be? In the age of computer graphics when we visually feast on images in theaters that wow us, this goes far beyond what we’ve ever seen. God is massive. Stopping on that thought alone would have me daydreaming for awhile. But then, I finished the verse. “My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they all stand up together.” (Isaiah 48:13 emphasis mine) Wait, what? 
How can the foundations of the earth and the heavens stand up? Now, that’s a puzzler. Literally, I can’t figure that out, but figuratively, that’s awe-inspiring. The earth and the heavens - all that surrounds us - stand up together when God summons them. I don’t know about you, but that’s a sight I’m looking forward to seeing. When everyone and everything stands up for The KING. 
Now, that’s respect.