I want to talk about clichés for a minute. You know, those figures of speech or word images that get used so much that they start to lose their meanings? I’m sure that each of us can think of a few off the top of our heads. For me, particularly, I can’t help but spot clichés a lot in worship songs. It doesn’t take very long to find a phrase that compares God’s grace to being new like the morning, His mightiness to the thunder and lightning, and His greatness to the moon and stars. I know that might sound a little cynical. Having grown up in church most of my life, I tend to grow jaded toward these types of phrases from time to time; however, every so often I experience something that reawakens my senses and I begin to remember how richly descriptive and magnificent these phrases can be when attributing them to God’s character. I happened to have two of those experiences last week.
The first was on Saturday night. I was driving home from the Gilbert campus, and the sky was covered with dark, intimidating clouds. A vicious haboob had blown through the East Valley earlier in the day, carrying with it an equally-vicious monsoon downpour. I remember looking out the window in the Gilbert choir room and seeing trees flailing from the wind and hearing the rain mercilessly hitting the side of the building. There were also periodic flashes of light followed by a loud rumble of thunder. The whole experience was intense, to say the least. As I drove home that night I kept looking up at the large bluish-black rainclouds that seemed to completely engulf the horizon, when suddenly I saw a streak of lightning flash across the sky. Then another. And another. The view was breathtaking. There’s just something amazing about witnessing thousands of volts of electricity zapping back and forth miles above you. In that moment, I began to think about all the songs and Scripture passages that related God’s power and might to the lightning and thunder. The God that created the physics behind this amazing display of illumination is the same God that we worship.
My second experience came from a source that I did not expect: my homework. I recently enrolled in an online astronomy class at Rio Salado College. The first chapter of my textbook began with an overview of our universe. I’m sure you know that our Earth belongs to a solar system, which belongs to a galaxy compiled of other solar systems. But did you know that this galaxy belongs to a cluster of 40 other galaxies that make up what’s called the Local Group? Our Local Group is part of a supercluster of other galaxy groups, which then thousands upon thousands of superclusters make up our known universe! Some of the stars we see at night are millions (or even billions) of miles away from us. To me, that is unfathomable. I suddenly remember why people compare God’s greatness to the heavens.
So here’s my challenge to you this week: take a moment to reawaken your senses in worship. Think of your favorite song or passage of poetic Scripture. Really pay attention to the words being used and the images being portrayed, like it’s the first time you’ve ever read or heard these phrases. Let your imagination take hold as you begin to acknowledge the vastness and greatness of God’s character. It is truly amazing to be able to worship a Creator that knows us closely and intimately, yet at the same is still infinitely mysterious.
What are your favorite metaphors or images that describe God’s character?
Are there any phrases that you find cliché? How can they be re-engaged?